Category Archives: Being in your twenties
Overcoming the Quarter-Life Crisis
There seems to be a common medium shared by every twenty-something year old on the planet. It’s a state of evaluation of one’s life; a teetering between fight-or-flight mode than can last for months or even years on end. Psychiatrists have dubbed this “the quarter-life crisis.” Common characteristics of a quarter-life crisis are identity confusion, loneliness, frustrations with the working world and relationships, boredom, restlessness, and an overall feeling of anxiety. The quarter-life crisis is rooted in feelings of inadequacy and fears that one has not seen/done/experienced enough. Some people, in my personal opinion, have had the great fortune of avoiding these emotions completely. They have had numerous accomplishments at an early age, and their stars will only continue to rise. I feel that Anthony Green, from the Philadelphia based group Circa Survive, is one of these lucky people.
Anthony is a very, very talented musician who has previously played with such bands as Audience of One, Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer, and Saosin. He is currently the lead singer of Circa Survive. The band has been together for four years, but the members have known each other a lot longer than that. “We were all mutual friends,” Green explains, “We knew each other for a long time through other people. Our lives always kind of ran parallel to each other’s before we formed Circa.”
Anthony attributes his love of music to bands such as Minor Threat and the Smiths. He draws from a number of different musical influences for his bands, but the lyrics and actual songs are all very personal to him. “I think it’s a bit selfish to take experiences from your own life for song material,” Anthony says, “But that’s all I know.”
Anthony Green has been all over the United States while touring with his different bands, and even to England more than once. “We don’t get much downtime during tour,” he says, “We’re always waiting. Waiting for sound-check, waiting to go on stage. I can’t just chill because I’m so ready to play so I can’t relax. And then after the show, I can’t hang out because I’m so exhausted. I just want to curl up in a ball and be alone for a mile in every direction and people still want to hang out.”
Green’s favorite local venues to play in Philadelphia are the Unitarian Church and the Trocedaro. “The church is so intimate,” Anthony says, “Everyone is just hanging out and listening to music and it has a very comfortable vibe.”
Anthony’s love for the Troc can be traced back to his younger years when he went and saw the Melvins there. “It was my very first show and I was fourteen years old. It’s ridiculous to be able to play in a venue where I was when I was fourteen at a sold out show. I love it.”
The fans are also what keep Anthony going. “Circa fans are amazing,” he gloats, “They are just all so cool. Like for Christmas this year fan named Kyle gave presents out to all the band members. I think he’s lour biggest fan in the world. He gave us these journals that he made about following the band around. It was just really endearing and amazing.”
Anthony Green is only twenty-five years old and already is adored the world over for his musical genius. It shakes regular twenty-somethings, such as myself, to their core, but it also has the potential to inspire us. Anthony was born with an immense gift of creativity, and he has used that to its full advantage. He has worked his ass off to get where he is now and I think we should all do the same. Instead of freaking out that we’re not good enough, we should cultivate our skills and find out what we love to do. Hopefully there will be a lot less depression amongst my generation if we do that.
Did you ever get the feeling that you’ve lived many different lives? I think I’ve had about five so far, each complete with its own tiny tragedy and death. My different lives are usually built around new places or people. And when I change cities or relationships, I have to bulldoze over everything I’ve built and start from scratch.
My third life orbited around a guy named Ben. I was 22 at the time, still in college, and worked part-time at an independent bookstore. I had recently moved back to Pennsylvania after spending three years in Vermont and had lost contact with almost everybody I knew from my home state. Ben was a godsend and the gateway drug to the archetype of man that I now prefer. He was the typical tattooed, hardworking, blue collared, beer guzzling, I-can-fix-everything-in-your-kitchen-and-on-your-car-and-I-can-even-sew type of guy. Ours was a love measured in mileage. He lived an hour away in South Jersey and every day one of us took up the task of rounding up the dogs and making the commute across the river to the other’s apartment. I created an adorable life when I moved back to PA, filled to the brim with feminist theory seminars, Ikea futons, laid back, easy part-time work, dog walks, and punk rock shows. I had literally no responsibilities other than keeping my GPA up and paying the cable bill.
That life came to an end shortly after I graduated. Ben wanted kids and I wanted a career so we parted ways. Life Number Four started the day I moved to Philly and revolved heavily around poverty, fear, career changes, and another relationship. I laid Life Number Four to rest two years later, after two apartments, four jobs, the worst break-up that I’ve ever been through to date, and the adoption of another dog.
Life Number 5 is the first life I’ve had that has been primarily about me. It’s about self-improvement, self-realization, and self-acceptance. I’ve made tons of mistakes already and have hurt a lot of people in the process, but something has woken up inside of me.
All through high school and college, some ingrained thing in me was growing and feeding on snowstorms and Catholicism. It made me bite my nails at 60 miles per hour and it made me sad in the winter and it made me stay up all night stressing about where all of this was going, and when I moved to the city, I shut it down. Hey there, painful thing. Chill out for a couple years. So there we sat, in a posh apartment with a job in journalism.
But lately, it’s been moving around again, this enormous monster in the soupy lake of my subconscious. It’s gnawing at me and punching at me and I feel like I have to suffer a bit more to grow up. Life Number Five is about feeding my painful thing, allowing it to grow and working my butt off so that I can feel fulfilled with the one real life that I have. Does that make sense?
When I was three or four years old, I told my mother that I wanted to be a piece of cheese when I grew up. In fourth grade, my occupational goals became a little bit more realistic and I realized that I wanted to be a marine biologist and a movie star.
My indecisiveness followed me to college where I originally enrolled as a philosophy major. In my junior year, I transfered schools and changed majors, thus causing me to join the ranks of the thousands of other kids my age who were on the five-year-plan.
Now, as a young adult, I honestly have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I do know that I want to write, but I don’t know how to incorporate that passion into a work environment that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer for 40 hours a week.
Recently, it seems, that more people in my immediate circle are risking it all to follow their dreams. I know of at least two people who have quit their well-paying media jobs in the last three months to pursue a career in the fashion industry. They’re selling their handmade clothing and jewelry online and waitressing on the side to support themselves.
Before rent and credit card debt and the need for health insurance, my plans for myself did not include Excel spreadsheets and multiple freelance and bartending gigs to help pay the bills. I wanted to change the world, or at least make it a better place. I wanted to travel. At one point, I wanted to own another horse and live in a loft above a barn. I still have exceedingly high expectations for myself, but now-a-days, my dreams seem to be on the back-burner. And I’m not just talking about putting them on hold for weeks or even months, I’m speaking in terms of years. Somewhere amidst the clutter of growing up, I’ve forgotten who I am and what is important to me.
One of the things I was taught in college that has stuck with me throughout the years is a term called eudemonia. It’s a state of living at your most authentic self, a way of flourishing across a lifetime. A person finds out exactly it is that drives them and uses their passions to create a kind of personal velocity. This is the only formula I think there is to leading a happy, fulfilled life. Forget about money, or status, or designer handbags. Find out what moves you and then focus in on that. Whether it be writing, or art, or math, or pasting dead bugs under glass frames, do whatever it is that you love to do. And do it well.
America is a land of voyeurism. Reality television, webcams, live feed from social networking sites, and other people’s problems – we eat it all up. This is especially true for people in their twenties who came of age when MTV’s The Real World was still good and AOL was just taking off.
Blogs are no different. They are online diaries, simply another way to share unnecessary information about yourself with a world that doesn’t care. Even though the entire planet can read about your inner most thoughts and desires, some people still aren’t capable of understanding this and tend to over-share, writing about things like break-ups and bowel movements and other information that is better left unsaid. I am totally one of those people.
The idea of complete strangers reading about my life fascinates me, and I think this is why I am so forthcoming with information. I really am not that interesting, but I do have a lot to say. I guess writing it all down on a public forum makes me feel like this one life, my life, is significant and worthy of other people’s curiosity.
On this particular blog, I try to take events from my own life, such as break-ups and poverty, and create a universal theme that anybody can relate to. It seems that people enjoy reading about things that they are familiar with. If somebody sees themselves reflected in an entry, empathy is usually created and thus they keep reading. It also seems that people my age are so lost. We’re all trying to cultivate some kind of life for ourselves while navigating this brand new thing called “Adulthood.” It’s hard, and I want people to know that they are not alone.
I want to write about how I have been in a perpetual state of heartbreak for the last couple of weeks now. Winter was never my season. When it’s right around the corner I get a bit like Eeyore. I also just realized that I’ve wasted the last month of my life pursuing a relationship that had been circling the drain since day one. I was just too stubborn to see it. I think I told this particular person that I’d never write about him, so I’ll keep it at that…
Cities can be amazing, wonderful places. They can also be terribly lonely places when you’ve lost your way.
“Alarmingly increasing numbers of Americans, however, seem to have difficulty seeing any limits to their entitlement, and as a result of their “entitlement attitudes,” they’re behaving in ways that are harming themselves in the short run and the country in the long run. These are the 20-somethings who took six years to earn bachelors’ degrees, left college with $10,000 in credit card debt, and still feel entitled to big-screen televisions because “other people” have them, even though “other people” have worked harder, educated themselves better and saved longer… Slowly, over time, with the help of their parents, their teachers and our popular culture, entitlement attitudes blossomed, grew and ripened into full-blown, individual and societal, economic and interpersonal, disasters.
“Well-meaning parents are the foremost instillers and nurturers of entitlement attitudes. When they go beyond satisfying all of their children’s needs and start satisfying all of the children’s wants as well, these parents not only “spoil” the kids figuratively, but they also literally spoil the kids’ chances of learning how to manage resources responsibly. When kids learn to expect excess rather than to anticipate scarcity, they learn to expect needs and wants to be satisfied equally rather than to differentiate and prioritize between and among them. They also learn to expect others to make sacrifices for them rather than to be self-reliant. They lose the connection between getting what they want and doing something of value, and they learn to go about getting what they want by placing demands on others rather than by making themselves useful to others.”
More and more I think Generation Y is Generation Jaded.
We were promised the world. I think we all expected a wonderful future. Technology would solve all of our problems. It would be like the Jetson’s and everybody would be waited on hand-and-foot by robots. Technology would make the good life available to everybody, and everybody would live in a land of plenty. The previous generations had all come so far, and were handing us a near utopia.
But I think more and more we’re realizing that utopias don’t exist. This brave new world our parents handed us isn’t really a utopia at all. It’s full of pollution and global warming. The fears of the Cold War didn’t subside with the fall of the soviet union, but persist still due to an even more ambiguous enemy: “terror,” as if we could somehow fight and defeat a primal emotion.
I guess the way I see it is, it’s a matter of value. There is no intrinsic value in anything. Rather, we assign value to things based on how useful or pleasurable it is, and how difficult it is to obtain.
Back in the days before the printing press, people had to wait six months to receive a new book. Now, with the Internet, we can find the population of NYC in less than six seconds. This instant access to knowledge has made my generation lazy and ungrateful, addicted to instant access and fast, lightning speed social updates (i.e. Twitter, Facebook feed).
I am 25 years old and do not know how to use a card catalogue in a library. I think I spent a cumulative five hours in the library during my entire college career. All term papers and projects were done in my apartment with the help of my MAC. I, like most of my fellow peers, could coast through our classes with an ease equivalent to that of doggy-paddling, and it was all made possible by the ‘Net.
This attitude of “I can get whatever I want without trying too hard” followed me on my tailcoats into the real world, where, I found out, one cannot simply “coast” through life. I was expected to earn my money, it would simply not just appear in my checking account. Elbow grease would be involved.
Is Gen Y really this lazy and apathetic? Do we expect too much and do too little? When I graduated college, I expected employers to be lined up for miles offering me a job. Reality hit me like a sucker-punch to the face when I found out that this wasn’t the case. The world would not be my oyster, as I had anticipated it to be. There would be no pearls.
As my little brother so eloquently put it:
“Perhaps we’ve simply had too much handed to us. In trying to make our lives better by giving us everything they wanted, our parents unwittingly made all of those things meaningless to us, and have left us feeling apathetic and unfulfilled, searching aimlessly for something to fill the void, for something to actually strive for.
“Or maybe that’s just progress. Every generation hands off to the next that which they themselves wanted, devaluing it for their children, forcing them to forge forward in order to possess the next impossible dream and hand it off to their children, who will in turn take it for granted.”
This past weekend, I was driving back home on I-95 N from Delaware. It was about 8:20 pm, and the sun was squatting right between the sky and the highway, right on the cusp of setting. There is this part of 495/95, right around Marcus Hook, PA, that runs parallel with both factory lights and fields. I always thought factories were intensely gorgeous (but hey, this is coming from the same girl that thinks pigeons are majestic, so ignore me) and the fact that it was dusk in June, and I had the windows down, and for the first time all season it hit me dead on in the chest that it was finally summer, and later that night while taking my dog for a walk I saw fireflies in the park…
Do you know those moments in life that seem benign enough while they’re happening but in retrospect they are revolutionary times of change? Like that time on 5th Street, he had said not to wear my headphones while walking alone because it was a dangerous neighborhood and I allowed my eyes to follow him for two blocks, replacing my headphones once he had disappeared safely around the corner. I had thought nothing of it at the time, thinking I’d be spending the night with him the next day. But that was the very last time I saw him…
Life is the culmination of little deaths, of silent deaths. Pieces of us are dying all of the time and we hardly notice until huge chunks of our lives do not happen anymore. Habitual, daily acts change, evolve into different routines so slowly that sometimes it takes years to figure out we’ve lost a piece of ourselves in the first place.
There was a time in my life that I spent all of my time in either tiny, rented apartments, disgusting dive bars, basement keg parties, or huge, five bedroom houses where ten people lived. These just weren’t random locations in my life – it was my life. And everything was happening so fast and people were coming and going but never staying and I had intense yet fleeting relationships with acquaintances and everybody owned a dog and nobody had kids and we were all single and broke and we all thought our lives couldn’t get any better than this. This was it. We were epic.
But two days ago at 8:20 pm on 95 N, nostalgia came up behind me from out of nowhere and threw a right hook to my left temple. I suddenly remembered this moment I had in ‘05 on the bed of a pickup truck, on a night much like this one. I had driven to the edge of the Delaware River with this guy I was deeply, deeply in love with. Gutter-punk band Fifteen was playing their song Lucky from his car speakers and there was a spot-light weaving side-to-side on the other side of the bridge, advertising a new business that had just opened up. I was 21 and didn’t have a care in the world. I was in college and my future was still set at zero. I knew the strength of my own velocity and didn’t have any bills to pay. Nothing was set in stone. Everything was new.
That time in my life is gone. Not because of burnt bridges or because it was bad, but because of time. I will never be able to experience the kind of freedom that accompanies having no responsibility ever again. I will never be able to drive down to the river’s edge at 3am on a Tuesday with a strange boy and a skirted 40 because I have to be in the cubicle jungle at 9am. I no longer have the luxury of acting on compulsion on a daily basis. No more binge drinking at 2pm or one-day road trips to Canada. Nobody still appreciates my awesome skillz at turning a gourd into a bong or my 25 page thesis on the underlining Edipus-complex Hemingway’s protagonist suffered in The Sun Also Rises.
It’s funny how we evolve into adults. It’s funny what we are expected to give up in order to succeed, in order to become self-sufficient and independent and responsible. It’s funny what we lose along the way, and sometimes how we don’t even notice that it’s missing…