The Twentysomething Virii

by phil on Friday Jan 14, 2005 12:14 AM

Recently, a couple of my friends, independently of each other, have come to me with similar crises. Some have to do with finding meaning in their lives, others have to do with relationship doubts. I don't have all the answers, but as luck would have it, I found a book that has organized all of these issues under one umbrella. Alexandra Robbins, in Conquering your Quarterlife Crisis, provides "Advice from Twentysomethings Who Have Been There and Survived."

Check out this table of contents, and see if any of these resonate with you:

PART 1: Hopes and Dreams

1. What if I don't know what I want?*
2. How do I find my passion?
3. When do I let go of my dream?*
4. What if I don't get what I want by the age I thought I'd get it?*
5. How do I start over? or, What if I spent years working hard and now realize I made a mistake?

PART 2: Relationships

6. Why am I having trouble meeting people?
7. How important are sparks?
8. How do I know if I'm dating The One?
9. How do I really know if I was just experimenting or if I'm really gay or bi?

PART 3: Work Life

10. How do I weigh doing something I love versus making enough money?*
11. Will I always hate going to work?
12. When do I give up on a job?
13. What if I want to completely change direction in my career?*
14. Should I go back to school? or, What if school was a waste?

PART 4: Home, Friends, and Family

15. Why is it so hard to live alone?*
16. What if I feel like I'm "stuck"?*
17. Why is it so hard to find friends?
18. What if my friends and I are drifting apart?
19. How do I stop comparing myself to other people?*
20. Should I move back in with my parents?

PART 5: Identity

21. Why can't I deal with adulthood?
22. What do I do if my life seems boring or meaningless?*
23. How do I stop feeling so overwhelmed?*
24. When will I stop feeling afraid of and start looking forward to growing older?
25. What if I don't like myself? or, Will I ever be happy?

* starred entries are ones I've wrestled with heavily.

The book is structured in a problem-solution format. Each chapter starts with stories of people currently struggling with the question, followed by responses from older people who have lessons to share.

Now, I haven't read the whole book. I scanned a few of the advices from the twentysomethings, but they made me cringe. So instead, I read all the problem-introductions, the ones with people in the deepest woes of each of those issues. My first reaction was a relief to know that I am not alone. I used to think I was either nuts or onto something when I went around trumpeting this "pursuit of passion" business.

After reading a little more, I then began to defensively laugh at these people, distancing myself from their problems so as to not have to face my own, but still working on them indirectly through my criticisms.

I put the word "virii" in this post's title, but perhaps that's mis-laid. These quarterlife issues don't have to be viewed completely as "problems," but rather as part of the general ebb and flow of living. You live, you struggle, and it hurts, and it's frustrating, and it's maddening, but it's beautiful all the same.


Bob said on January 14, 2005 9:39 AM:

Remember Mihaly's "increasing complexity" as a prerequisite of flow...not only are good things worth struggling for, it seems the struggle helps make them so good...

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