We're happy to present this story from one of our favorite sites, The Good Men Project. Today, Mike Nicholson explains how 25 is an age of late-night anxiety attacks and epiphanies and hangovers that are beginning to last into a second day.
It happened on May 8 this year. I didn't think it would happen to me, but it couldn't be avoided. Now I can no longer tick the box on surveys, questionnaires, and other data collecting forms that says "18-24." I can no longer answer "early 20s" when asked how old I am. Thirty is no longer an age exclusively reserved for "old" people; it's now around the corner. And don't even get me started on how hangovers are ever-so-sneakily creeping into a second day.
My name is Mike, and I am 25 years old.
If the midlife crisis for men is about buying sports cars, sleeping with younger women, or both, then the quarter-life crisis is about late-night anxiety attacks and epiphanies, clutching at the last straw of acceptable immaturity, and constant planning for the day when that "real" job finally comes along.
For mine, the insecurities involved with turning 25 mostly come down to two elements: career and love.
When I look around at my friends who have full-time "real" jobs, I feel jealous. Why couldn't I have enjoyed law or geology or teaching instead of falling in love with the exciting yet small-employment-opportunity world of media?
After attending five family weddings in the last 18 months, I have come to realize that freelancing in a variety of jobs is cause for concern from some within my family. Who would have thought that those who love me the most would make me feel insecure about where I am in life? I know they hold me to higher standards, but the way I reassure myself comes down to two points: 1) they mean well, and 2) they grew up in a vastly different generation. Of course it doesn't cure my insecurities, but I did feel a lot better coming to that realization.
I'm not going to lie: I could always be doing more, be paid more, or be more successful. There are also times when I worry about my revolving door of jobs and how I would cope supporting more than myself. But maybe that's the beauty of being 25. I can get away with a seemingly unstable yet ever-changing employment lifestyle and be mostly happy with that.
On the flip side, there is the "being single at 25" factor. Why is it that success is measured by whether you are currently dating someone? I have never understood the overarching need to have my success defined by my relationship status.
Truth be told, I feel comfortable with my ability to be single; it seems that those around me care more about it than I do. The dreaded "Are you seeing someone?" or "Why are you single?" conversations get tiresome, but I put up with them by telling myself that at least people give a sh*t to ask.
If a person is single for a long time, this doesn't necessarily mean they never want to change that. I'm no different. I get lonely. I envy those reveling in their love in front of me. But I try to enjoy the opportunities single life brings. You can be extremely selfish in day-to-day decisions when there's only one person to think about. Also, my laptop never has to leave the bed and there's no one to judge me on a Saturday night as I fall asleep with a burrito in hand, snoring off into drunken oblivion. And I wonder why I'm single . . .
Yes, getting older is a thing. It happens to all of us, whether we like it or not. But the point is that there really isn't a need to feel the pressure of a quarter-life crisis. If you're happy, then who cares? If you're not, then do something about it. Just because you leave your boring, dead-end job and hop a flight to South America to learn Spanish or dump your high-school sweetheart because the relationship felt too safe doesn't necessarily mean you aren't taking life seriously. If anything, I think it means the exact opposite: that you have life by the horns and are in control.
When life gives you lemons . . . shut up: you got a free lemon and nothing in life is free. Take the lemon, add some gin, and start a party. Or, if that's not your style, trade the lemon for a lime. If we all took a step back and paused for a moment to appreciate the life we're living rather than regretting the life we aren't, the quarter-life crisis would be a nonevent. Be happy with your choices, or if you aren't, then there is no time like the present to change the game.
My name is Mike, I'm 25 years old, and I'm OK with that.