Our Twenties – A Decade Full of Quarter-life Crises


by Queenie Shaikh

Almost a decade after high school, multiple degrees later and I still don’t possess a great deal of understanding about taxes or the management of personal finances. A decent salary means paying rent, possible debt, splurging on comfort food and flinching in horror at the non-existent cash flow in my bank account. This dreadful cycle is likely to continue till twenty-somethings like me sell a kidney or win the lottery of life, which will inevitably succumb to capitalism and gross impulse buying. Clearly, algebra didn’t teach me anything about the mathematics of life.

Being in our twenties is no joke. Sure, the prospects of higher education, developing friendships, and landing our dream jobs by mid-twenties (insert laughter emoticon here) makes it a roller coaster ride, but the foreseeable complementary elements of indecisiveness, uncertainty, disappointment, and other unenthusiastic nouns turn it into a difficult decade altogether.

As if this wasn’t enough, the external pressure of finishing university with decent grades (by decent, I mean winning the Nobel Prize because anything less is cringe-worthy), finding a fat salary paying job, remaining physically fit, and being on the lookout for the right partner to spend the rest of our lives with, (which obviously, is much more difficult than just swiping right on Tinder), makes it tenfold tricky. Quoting the infamous Rachel Green from the popular TV sitcom “FRIENDS,” “It’s like all my life you’ve said I’m a shoe. I’m a shoe, I’m a shoe. What if I wanted to be a purse?”

Recent researches and countless articles have exposed the truth about life in our twenties. First off, it is the most complicated time to bag a job with fairly respectable pay-scales thanks to being a fresh-out-of-university graduate with zero work experience. Ultimately, this results in taking the first job opening that springs up because their listed requirements match our resume qualifications.

One aftermath of this panic-induced decision is consciously selecting career opportunities we don’t enjoy, resulting in quitting more jobs instead of sticking to the one we benefit from. The second outcome is pondering over our university program choices and why we preferred to pursue something that had “future scope” instead of “chasing dreams”. Also, if you do consciously decide to run after your passions, people will generally disregard it as a hobby because, since when has ‘writing’ been a lucrative career choice?

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I genuinely believe being in our twenties automatically hands other people the “ask awkward questions” license card because you know, why not. “Are you seeing someone?” and other variations of that godforsaken enquiry become the new norm. In reality, many of us are still secretly in love with some fictional character from a book, Tom Hiddleston, or the guy/girl we eyed during an elaborate wedding who’s now going to face the wrath of our stalking skills.

However, your early twenties are relatively okay. The fortunate ones are still being taken care of by our loving and hardworking parents, money isn’t too much of a problem because really, we’re still essentially teenagers attending birthday parties and pouting at the camera. Life still looks like an endless pool of choices, swimming our way through it via fancy butterfly strokes.

The actual game begins once we step into corporate slavery, paying our own bills and dealing with a wide array of people. It’s also in our twenties when we realize who our genuine friends are — people who truly wish us well and don’t  jinx our plans for the future; an indication of potential wisdom, if not dreadful life choices in the past. Fast forward a few years, you’re 25 and sharing motivational “it’s never too late to start over” quotes.

It also doesn’t help that in the digital sphere, time passes by quickly. One moment we’re counting down to another year of procrastination and not achieving our dreams, and the next minute, it’s time to light the Christmas tree again. Young adults or millennials (fancy words for people who suffer from quarter-life or existential life crises) also (more often than not) have low decision-making power and face a hard time dealing with the concept of permanence and staying put. This, of course, might be a sweeping generalization, as there are some lucky ones who are born level-headed and have their entire life planned out by the time they hit their mid-twenties.

Life for them is devoid of creative struggles because they’re busy taking over the job market. Moving onto weddings and popping out babies seems like the next natural stage for them, which creates a sense of urgency to accomplish, similar for all those who are not quite there yet – not just financially, but mentally and emotionally as well.

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I remember laughing, recalling the eve of Dec. 31 last year when my friends and I clinked to a hopefully amazing 2016, and just a month later one of them posted on Facebook, “I’m so done with this year. 2017 bring it on already.”

Of course, growing older and wiser is a blessing and this in no way, means we would want to stay miserable in our twenties or magically opt out of them. It just signifies it’s a life altering experience that provides ample opportunities to prepare us for a better future and to learn from our mistakes.

People grow up, discover themselves and make necessary improvements in various areas of life. It also gives us the chance to reflect back on our younger years and how carefree and pleasant they were. And most importantly, we develop a newfound respect for our parents who had brats like us when they were possibly still in their twenties – wiping our runny noses while figuring out life and growing up themselves.

Queenie Shaikh - HeashotExploring and writing her way through life, Queenie Shaikh is a biryani addict, latte-art admirer, women’s rights advocate, fitness enthusiast, Harry Potter fanatic and a perpetual nomad, amongst many other things.

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