The 20s are like a 10-year trial period of adulthood. On the one hand, you’re expected to self-sufficiently go about your grown-up duties (feeding yourself, paying rent, actually hanging up your clothes instead of letting them become a Leaning Tower of Pisa on the floor). But on the flip side, you’re still permitted to seek support from parents for overwhelmingly adult matters (car insurance, any time the washing machine does something weird). Here are some tell-tale signs you’re a fumbling quarter-lifer, along with a solution to get you to a point where you’re confident in your direction and no longer using the cereal box as a bowl. (Actually, you’ll still probably do that, and there’s nothing wrong with it).
1. Everything on social media makes you insecure about your life standing (except George Takei’s Facebook). You know the routine. You innocently check your feed so you can read pertinent news articles examining pressing world conflicts. Jk, you totally signed on to study pictures of your ex’s new boyfriend. Whatever, it’s slow at work/you’re at a traffic light! Next thing you know, you’re like, “wait, people my age actually eat kale?!”
2. You constantly think about ways you can go “find yourself.” The evasive answers to your burning life queries totally lie in a castle in France that can only be accessed by a backpacking trip, right?
3. LinkedIn is a test of your creativity. How can you describe your job ringing up sweaters at Old Navy in a way that makes it sound like you invented a groundbreaking sales model that should be studied by Harvard Business School researchers?
4. If anyone ever mentions the words “five-year plan” or “401k,” your stomach immediately drops like you’re about to skydive. How is someone supposed to save for retirement when they can’t even save enough money for a non-futon bed? If only you were as adept at saving money as you are at saving movie stubs for random movies and finding them in jeans you haven’t worn in a month.
5. You consider joining a commune to escape societal conventions. Because all you want to do is live in a world where resumes don’t exist…and showering isn’t expected as a daily ritual.
6. You analyze your friend’s text messages like a WWII code breaker, searching for meaning in the meaningless. Thoughts such as, “Why haven’t they texted me back?!” can quickly take a turn for, “The only person who will ever return my love is my cat.”
7. You’re constantly considering grad school, because you want to stave off the real world as long as possible. In your head, grad school is a place where you can spend your days lazily pontificating in some sunny quad. You have no idea what area of study you want to pursue, never mind where another hundred thousand dollar degree will lead you, but it looks really impressive on the “studied at” section of your Facebook profile!
8. You consider going to a psychic. Maybe a stranger who has no connection to your life, who possesses mysterious (and monetized) powers can make the most important decisions in life for you. Hey, he/she knew you had an uncle!
9. You buy a couch from Ikea, just to feel like a real adult with real furniture. This is called “grasping at straws.” The sad knowledge that you are not yet ready for nice things is underscored when said couch becomes a veritable hotel room for your drunk friends who fall asleep with their shoes on rather than responsibly Ubering home.
10. You get overly nostalgic about high school, conveniently forgetting all the times you pretended to have a stomach ache so you could hide out in the nurse’s office. You listen to the mix CDs you made in the 10th grade (feeling only slight shame that Nickelback is on there) and Vitamin C’s “Graduation Song” makes you feel ALL THE FEELS.
It’s safe to say quarter-life crises can incite some “I’m not where I thought I’d be!” freak-outs. That’s why we wrote Roadmap, a book that helps you figure out that whole “What am I doing with my life?!” thing. Check it out: theonlybookyouneed.com