Quarter-life crisis

I’m sitting in the SS15 Starbucks, trying to kill time while waiting for Afham to decide if he will be coming back to my house for the weekend. I’ve never really liked coming to this Starbucks, because SS15 has become a nightmare to drive around and look for a parking spot in, and this outlet is perpetually teeming with students because there are three colleges on its doorstep. But it’s still better than going to a mall just for Starbucks, pay for a parking spot on top of my frappucino, and only be allowed to sit there until the mall closes. So I put up with the SS15 Starbucks, at least for the remainder of my time living in Subang Jaya.

As I sat down with my coffee and set about turning my computer on, I overheard snippets of a conversation amongst a group of girls at the table behind me, which went like so:

Girl 1: After finals week I’m going back to his hometown to meet his parents.
Girl 2: *gasp* Waaaaahhhh…! He must be super serious if he’s bringing you to meet his family!
Girl 3: You guys talk about marriage yet?
Girl 1: Not yet la… But maybe after graduation la. Two more years only what.

I lost track of the conversation after that because my mind immediately focused on what Girl 1 had just said. In my head I did the math: if she is graduating in two years, that puts her at about 19 years old right now, 20 at the oldest. And it suddenly me feel very, very old.

I told my boss two days ago that I was thinking of quitting my job (yes, again, after only two months, but that’s for another post) because I’ve realized, after three years of being in this profession, that I don’t want to continue being in this profession. I told him that it was one of those instances where you look/wake/sit up and suddenly realize that you don’t want to keep doing what you’re doing because you’ve lost any love you ever had for it and you feel like you can no longer be good at it (at the risk of tooting my own horn, I did actually love what I did once, and I was actually good at what I did). Then, sensing my boss wasn’t quite convinced, I added that I would like to figure out what I really like or want to do or what I can really be good at by the time I turn 30, and considering it took me three years to figure out that public relations is not it, 30 really isn’t that far off.

My boss’s matter-of-fact response to my little outpouring was: “You’re going through quarter-life crisis, aren’t you?” My immediate instinct was to deny it vehemently, until I read up on it and realized that I might, perhaps, be suffering from a bout of quarter-life crisis. It would certainly explain why I’ve been facing such severe job dissatisfaction, desperate to break out on my own and make something of myself, and dreading every day that brings me closer to infertility (I must note here that I am not dying to have children; I am simply trying to guarantee the option of having them should the need arise — and ensure they turn out free of health problems caused by their mother’s irresponsibility). It would probably also explain why I keep reminiscing about my life in the U.S., bemoaning the fact that I am here now and likely to be stranded here.

And it may also be why panicked mildly when I listened to the college girls’ conversation about marriage. Girl 1 is either growing up so fast that she has already entered the marrying frame of mind, or not growing up at all because she has entered the marrying frame of mind without thinking about all the responsibilities that come with it. Whichever it is, it made me feel extremely old because I am approaching 27 with nothing to my name but a career ballgame that I’m trying with all my might to strike out from, and a relationship that has only recently started maturing but is weighed down by requests to fast-track it to the next available level.

But what really baffles me is that this syndrome even exists. What happened to the days when everything was set in stone — go to college, get a degree that will be useful as opposed to interesting, get a job that will pay the bills, and find someone to spend the rest of your life — and maybe procreate — with? When did life become so complicated and competitive that midlife crisis decided to clone and rename itself and hurl it at an age group that hasn’t lived long enough to know how to deal with it? And, perhaps most importantly, if a phase like this starts so early in life, when on earth will anyone ever be truly happy with themselves?

After telling another colleague yesterday that I had handed in my notice of resignation and having him also declare that I am going through quarter-life crisis, I wearily shrugged and said, “Maybe I am.” But then I figured that if it took a crisis (of sorts) to make me realize I needed to stop doing what everyone else thought I should be doing, then maybe quarter-life crisis isn’t too much of a bad thing after all. If nothing else, it gives me one more thing to blame my increasingly bad temper on.

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