The cusp of a ‘great’ milestone. The time when one’s Great Perhaps begins to unravel. The beginning of life in the ‘real world’. You know, the big 2-5?
And yet, on the day I turned 25 last December, an ominous feeling gnawed at my insides like a greedy rodent. A sense of malaise that no copious amount of jägermeister could drown.
Young, but just not that young anymore; fit, but just not quite that fit yet. Add to that the constant jibes from older generations about twenty-somethings being directionless and reckless, and I became a grumpy Neanderthal grunting around the house, complaining about my purposeless life. That much-spoken-of dreaded quarter-life crisis was not just looming anymore; it was a full-fledged waging war in my heart and mind. And I knew I was not the only 25-year-old feeling overwhelmingly directionless…
Do you know that in Mauritius, one in two young adults in their mid-twenties claims to be having or has had a quarter-life crisis? Alright fine, that statistic might just be complete bogus like most of the ones being hurled at us on national television. But there are in fact hordes of young Mauritian adults who stepped into university wanting to become yet another doctor or lawyer, and now, years later, come to realise that maybe all they really want to be a professional fart-smeller or something (yes, it IS a real job).
Inhaling gaseous smells for the purpose of human wellbeing; what if, to him or her, it really is not such a waste of life? Or is buying a suit, discussing taxes and pretending to care about politics in Mauritius a more meaningful alternative?
We get it. At 25, we are meant to have it all figured out: a degree in hand, a rospective job on the horizon and a blossoming relationship to go with it. Four decades later, we’d be visualising our lives beautifully playing out like a dusty photo album on the coffee table. Sure, it sounds delightful. Really. But what if some of us found comfort in being uncomfortable in our lives?
Yes, I am aware that it makes me sound like yet another uppity youngster with unfettered online access to a much-too wide spectrum of sordid perspectives on life, but there is some truth to it. “Go out there, try new things, test the waters,” they are often heard saying when we ask for career advice, mixing all the possible convoluted clichés in a sentence. Test the waters? Sure, we could test the waters by dipping a toe or two in. But again, what if some of us were at ease with jumping in the murky waters, stark naked, knowing we’d get twigs and unwanted objects stuck in nooks, corners and cracks of our bodies? What if we knew that instead of focusing on a soul-sucking job, we were looking to build eventual careers that involved having the freedom to change our mind and changing it again if we wanted to?
Of course, many of us have it easy. Our fathers and forefathers toiled hard and could not get away with walking around the workplace on a Monday morning like a comatose patient dealing with a three-day drinking binge. But why compare ourselves to a generation that for instance, finds the idea of someone making YouTube videos for a living unfathomable? Many 20-somethings find themselves fidgety when being confined in a tiny cubicle, counting down the minutes to wine o’clock on a Friday evening. We have, over time, begun to believe that true happiness is not attained with the sole condition of knowing what we are meant to be doing in our lives. Maybe the index of happiness in our working lives relies more in meaning and satisfaction than in anything else?
Of course some of you hard-working readers overwhelmed with compounded student debt and other life choices will be scoffing away at the ‘pathetic bellyaching’ of this ‘first-world-problems’ post. Go on, snicker away, but look around you first. Neo-hipsters with handle-bar mustaches and tattooed necks finding jobs in creative sectors such as advertising and digital creativity; artists, chefs, bloggers, YouTubers making art and humour rhyme with sustainable income; makeup artists and stylists slowly carving their niche; does that coveted job, oh 9-to-5er (plus ridiculous overtime hours, of course) still sound that exciting to you?
Being a ‘groan’-up is not all that easy for many of us. But while we are it, we might as well have some fun living it up. The catch-25, however, remains extant: feeling like we should have more going on in our mid-twenties and having a reality that often fails to match up.
But then, you might ask… ‘When is life going to feel like it’s supposed to?’