Meet Generation Y: The fast talking, cool kids who spent most of their time playing outside. They used pencils to wind cassettes and, unbelievably, had the patience for dial-up Internet. Fast forward a few years and these kids, now in their 20s, will cause a scene if the waiter takes longer than five minutes.
The world is very different from when their parents were 20. Marriage and kids were a no-brainer, there were about five different career options, and 10 years at one company was rewarded with a loyalty pen and a gift basket.
But this generation has way too many options and questions, and won't settle until they're finically secure and personally fulfilled. All these factors contribute to the challenge of transitioning from a carefree university student to a serious member of the corporate world. Enter stage left, the quarter-life crisis.
The quarter-life crisis begins in the first few years, or even months, after university. Somewhere, between balancing your goal to be irreplaceable at work and your social life, you begin to question everything. Who am I? What do I really believe? Will I ever be enough? When do I switch from white-wine to red-wine? What if I wake up one morning and realize that I didn't live my life to the fullest? (By the way, that will happen, it's called a midlife crisis).
Work suddenly becomes less challenging, you feel like you're stuck in a rut and the occasional loneliness causes you to overthink silly things like the difference between "okay," "ok" and "k."
Thanks to social media there is now more than one platform you can use to compare your life to everyone else's.
At 21 I spent way too much time on these sites, but not to update my profile picture or record my every thought. I was merely checking up on people, so that when I bumped into them we'd have something to talk about... Well that's what I told myself anyway.
Many of my high school friends were getting engaged, others were traveling and some studying towards masters degrees. I began to feel like I was missing out; kind of like the title of Mindy Kaling's book, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?
In a conversation with a friend in Cape Town, I confessed that life seemed to have less sunshine and a whole lot of rain. To my surprise, she said she felt the same. It turned out that there was a bunch of other twenty-somethings who were in the same boat. I didn't even know of the concept of the quarter-life crisis existed until I googled "mid-life crisis at 23."
I don't know the equation to solve the quarter-life crisis. Perhaps writing down short, medium and long-term goals will help you keep your eyes on the bigger prize. Work hard; play hard. Just don't burn out on your way to the top -- you don't want to exit the game early. Finally, when life becomes overwhelming and your body tells you to slow down, whip out that old pencil and cassette and just keep winding.