Editor's Note: This is one post in a series on the quarter-life crisis. Each post is written by a reader and describe very different experiences. See others
Like most female journalists, I assume, I only grew up with two real inspirations in my life: Carrie Bradshaw and Harriet the Spy. I had notebooks that grew into Microsoft Word documents, lists upon lists of everything I knew about everyone I had met. All I saw in my future was a New York City life where I lived adventure after adventure, without forgetting any of the details for blog posts, articles, and novels to come.
When I started college, I figured out that the 10-cents-a-word life wasn't really going to pay apartment rents and student loans that were plaguing my future. I saw job prospects decline drastically over my first year of college and professors discourage students from pursuing careers in journalism. After years and years of being told it was the ultimate way to achieve my dreams, I realized that pursuing a volatile degree from private university was possibly one of the worst decisions I could have made.
I stuck with what I had always been told was the 'right' thing to do, and pursued a degree in journalism at Northeastern University, but made sure to take every conceivable step to make myself employable: internship after internship, student leadership, part-time jobs and graduating early. I spent the last four years crafting my resume so I would be the perfect candidate for a writing job after graduation. I was given an incredible job offer from a previous internship days before graduation and after four years, felt like I had beaten the odds and was on the road -- or at least on a road -- to success.
Now, two months after graduation, I seem to be one of just a handful of people that's been able to get themselves on their feet, pay their own bills and actually put together some semblance of an adult life with minimal parental assistance. I bought a car, found an apartment and set up a 401k, just six months after turning 22. I came down on the 'right' side of every statistic -- I found a job in my field that actually pays well, I'm living on my own, and seem to have everything that these other college graduates are dying to have.
But what about that 10-cents-a-word life that I always wanted? What about New York City? What about freelancing, penning newspaper columns and urban adventures? What about the struggles that I see on Girls and the tales of credit card debt and ramen noodle dinners? Aren't these the things that really make you 22?
Anne Marie Slaughter's article for The Atlantic, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" has been quoted and criticized ad nauseam. However, all that's run through my head is that, at 22, I've already had to make life-defining decisions. I chose the path of a full-time job and an adult life. I gave up on the adventures, on freedom, on youth. Forget about career versus motherhood -- I can't even have it all now.
I suppose that I'm grateful that I can make all my car payments and start saving for retirement while most of my friends are living at home and working part-time jobs -- but I often find myself lamenting the fact that I'm not living at home and not working a part-time job. From my perspective, these are just some of the life-changing, character-building experiences that I may never have.
While Seymour Krim writes of the quarter-life crisis, "One life was never enough for what I had in mind," I felt as though one life was never even presented to me as an option. In a pre-recession world where we were taught to dream big, I carefully crafted my goals and aspirations. In the late 2000s, Generation Y was suddenly slapped with the reality that dreaming big wasn't going to cover the student loan bubble or our parents' retirement funds. My 'dream life' took a backseat to pursuing a solid career at a solid company.
Is the quarter-life crisis just not having a full-time job and living with your parents, or is it realizing that you have to choose some irreversible path for your life? In my case, it was realizing that I had already chosen, quite some time ago.
Though I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I might not be living a Lena Dunham-inspired life, I'm putting myself in a position where in the future, I might have a few more options to pursue what I really love -- and maybe I'm closer to Carrie Bradshaw than I think.
At least that's what they're telling me now.