I have a great job in PR. I live in a nice house in North London. My friends are the best a girl could ask for. My love life never has a dull moment. And according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network I live in an Alpha ++ city. So why am I unhappy? Well, because I recently realised that I'm going through a quarter-life crisis.
Dr Oliver Robinson, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Greenwich, highlighted that 73% of young professionals between the ages of 25-35 will suffer a quarter-life crisis. He pointed out that there are four phases:
Phase one is feeling 'locked in' to a job/relationship.
Phase two is growing sense that change is possible.
Phases three building a new life.
Phase four is fresh and exciting commitments.
What is a quarter-life crisis? It's a period where a person begins to feel doubtful about their life; this is brought on by the stress and fear of being an adult. When I was at school my biggest worry was who fancied me, and passing my exams. Then I went to university and didn't give a second-thought a career. After I graduated I realised my student discount had disappeared, that I'd have to pay council tax, and that watching Jeremy Kyle all day wasn't acceptable anymore.
The 'real world' sucks. There, I said it. I really don't want all my paycheck going on my rent, bills, and what the f*ck is with all the money they take off for tax?! Every month I hear the following phrase throughout the office "I've just been raped by the tax man", he's a d*ck.
In the 'real world' people start using words like 'mortgage', or 'marriage', drinks with friends that used to revolve around who shagged whom at the weekend now focus on 'career' and 'relationship' chat. You stop getting IDed (the most depressing thing ever), you stop stealing Tesco trolleys at 3am, you grow up. Well world, I don't want to grow up yet. I'm not ready, and after speaking to most people I know, they're not ready either.
When will I know if I'm happy with my career? What if I'd actually be happier as a lawyer; tattoo artist; or a politician? What if I'd actually be happier living in the countryside? Why isn't there someone who will just tell me who I am? Where are the guidance councillors for 25-year-olds?
I blame choice. We have too much choice. We're told that we can do whatever, and be whatever we want. This is crap. You can't be anything you want to be, yes, give it a try, no one is stopping you. But you need to realise that just because you've watched all of Ally McBeal doesn't mean you'll like being a lawyer, you may make a really delicious risi e bisi, but you're not going to be the next Nigella Lawson, and trust me, no matter how many times you've made your friends laugh by saying something highly inappropriate you're not going to be opening for Jimmy Carr anytime soon at Live at the Apollo.
I realised that if I stayed where I was just now I'd progress smoothly in my career, get married, have kids, and continue to live in London, whilst still begrudging paying horrific taxes. So I'm leaving. I'm packing in my career, leaving my best friends, my safety net, throwing most of what I own into a rucksack, and going off for a year to hopefully figure out this quarter-life crisis.
I don't know if I'll figure it out, I don't know if it'll make me happy, I'm already freaking out about not having my Louboutins or hairdryer with me, but this is my phase three, and I'm ready to build a new life.
It's not running away, it's realising that you control your own happiness.
I'm listening to E.E Cummings when he said: "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are", and I'm taking this time to finally grow up.