This generation is said to be uniquely talented at creating and quickly adopting massive platforms where we’re encouraged to share reams of personal information, and it’s not far from the truth. The wiggle room comes when it’s considered that regardless of how social our networks are, it’s normal for people to think of themselves as mostly isolated as they approach adulthood.
Erik Erikson, who had a knack for coining terms like “identity crisis” and popularized seven other developmental crises that span a human life, calls this one “the quarter-life crisis.”
The crisis makes for a compelling plot, and Hollywood has used it in The Graduate, Garden State, 500 Days of Summer and others. My favorite explanation of the crisis, though, comes from writer Seymour Krim in his wonder essay, “To My Brothers And Sisters In The Failure Business.”
“One life was never enough for what I had in mind,” he says early on.
Faced with all that was possible in a “country too rich and confusing for us to want to be one thing at the expense of another,” and while searching for his “one, true self” with an “open fuse-box of ambition and intention” he sought out the “professional skin that could hold the riot” that was his soul.
Through readers’ comments, discussion with my peers and my own early dealings with this topic, it’s clear that this can spring from anything. In Krim’s case, it’s professional; but each is personal to its host.
Whereas Krim was unable to focus through a forest of choice, however, this generation weighs what was formerly, and perhaps too easily considered, a country of vast opportunity against a modern economic condition that narrows choice through unemployment and begs a common question asked by many, “Why does ‘coming of age’ seem to be taking longer than ever?”
Since this quarter-life crisis poses a universal challenge to each of us on a personal level, perhaps the best way to cover it and cluster readers comments and concerns around specific problems is to open the conversation to all who visit. As we do just that, editors here at HuffPost College and partners at the Good Men Project look forward to your take on the topic and look forward to your contribution.
So are you in a quarter-life crisis? How do you define successful adulthood, and what seems to be in the way?
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