I wrote this for several friends as I was entering my 20s and it was published in Play Magazine in Washington, D.C. In the years that have passed, it has gone viral and been posted on more than 20,000 blogs, sent as an email forward (I got it back from Germany) and inspired an album cover. I think the reason is that it's just a natural part of growing up. As a young friend of mine mentioned she was having a "Quarter Life Crisis," I smiled knowing exactly what she was going through (and at the fact that I knew she'd get through it). I hope you enjoy it.
They call it the "Quarter-life Crisis." It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn't know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get hot and scared because you barely know where you are now. You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you are. You look at your job. It is not even close to what you thought you would be doing or maybe you are looking for one and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and are scared.
You miss the comforts of college, of groups, of socializing with the same people on a constant basis. But then you realize that maybe they weren't so great after all. You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not. You are insecure and then secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly change is the enemy and you cry and cling on to the past with dear life but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward. You get your heartbroken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough to get to know better.
You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person. One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap and getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You wonder what in the hell is wrong with you. You worry about loans and money and the future and making a life for yourself and while winning the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender! What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it and we are all in this together. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out. We are making a lot of mistakes, but helping one another learn from them and reaching out to pull one another up. We are not the shiniest group of people, but we are very much a circle. We are there for one another and will listen and help heal and grow for the rest of our lives. We will piss one another off, but we will also heal one another's hearts. We are the group who will always call on birthdays and laugh at the end of a conversation that started with angry words. We are a group that talks trash about the same people we call to meet up with on a Friday night, but we are sorry about it and we know that they know that we were just being insecure like they have been.
Brenda Della Casa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Badass + Living, Preston Bailey Designs' editor-in-chief and digital content strategist, as well as the author of Cinderella Was a Liar. @BrendaDellaCasa.