I would just like everyone to know that I’m having a very hard time in my life right now.
Yes, I am a walking Lena Dunham poster, but, probably, so are you.
Millennials have the not-so unique experience of coming into their own in their 20s, but it becomes a generational phenomenon when pop culture emphasizes this self-exploration in the young adults of today so that we think having a quarter-life crisis is exclusive to us.
Everyone has gone through a period of feeling lost and not knowing exactly who they are, but do women have extra to think about? Dunham, patron saint for all 20 something unemployed girls, even concocted an entire series based on the idea of being a woman in the middle of her quarter-life crisis. The series, given an understated title, is simply “Girls.”
Besides the usual quarter-life problems that encompass self-discovery and have you fantasizing about writing your own coming-of-age novel one-day, quarter-life issues are take to an entire new dimension as a woman.
There’s always the anxiety of needing to define your relationships. Are we just friends, more than friends but not quite boyfriend/girlfriend, companions – the real question is “Is it Facebook official?” Are people even doing that anymore? Why does it matter? If you’re not cheating and not harming anyone, there’s no need to take it a step further. We’re not in middle school anymore where holding hands equates a “serious relationship.” If you are in a serious relationship, don’t fall into the social pressures of your parents or mentors to ditch a partner because that period in your life is over. Likewise, don’t feel the need to commit to marriage and kids after college.
One of the wonderful things about feminism is really bugging the United Kingdom right now. Since women abroad are typically waiting until their 30s and maybe even 40s to have children, a recent ad campaign urging to “Get Britain Fertile” depicts a 70-year-old pregnant woman. The ad is meant to shock women and to get them thinking about having children at an earlier age. In the past, women went to college usually for the sole purpose of finding a husband. After marriage, they were “taken care of” and settled comfortably in their suburban homes to breed children until their little girls grew up and one day got just as lucky. Women in the world now have just as many career opportunities as men, outnumbering men in colleges and universities. Delaying childbirth came naturally as more women wait until they’ve finished their degrees to get married and have kids. There’s no stigma in waiting to be a mother. Post college debt, career advancement opportunities and that “Eat, Pray, Love” trip you’ve been daydreaming about are all stopping you – and that’s OK.
There’s a lot to think about when in the middle of your quarter-life crisis and job identity is usually one of those things for both men and women. Women have extra to think about when it comes to the workplace. Besides landing a job, women have to think about where they land in the workplace. Climbing up the workplace ladder as a woman, unfortunately, comes along with harsh connotations of being callous. The “H.B.I.C” dilemma shouldn’t even be a dilemma at all. After all the training and education obtained during the college years, women shouldn’t feel the need to lie low to be seen as favorable or simply to get by. Careers define people, so if you aren’t happy with where that path is heading, change it now before it causes a whole new set of headaches in your midlife crisis. Think of it this way: Now is the time to try new things, experiment and if you fail, you can pick yourself up and start again. If you have an ultimate goal, think of the smaller things you have to do to reach that goal. It may seem like advice taken from a self-help guide (and it probably is somewhere) but laying in bed and watching all past seasons of “Mad Men” on your Netflix account and angry-blogging about how your life is going nowhere will actually lead to it going nowhere. A quarter-life crisis is not synonymous with couch-potato years of depression.
Finally, when it really boils down, a quarter-life crisis puts us all in the same realm as our favorite moody literary teenager, Holden Caulfield, except with a few years more experience because we all read his book. If we can just figure out ourselves by the end of this, it will all be OK, right? I don’t think we’ll ever stop learning new things about ourselves, but at least we don’t have to resort to preconceived identities in order to feel at ease in the world. Feminism has paved the way for women to do more than just BE a woman. We can now challenge ourselves and take active control of our lives rather than having all our problems solved for us. As for me, I’ll still watch “Girls” and think that’s totally me, and so will you, but at least we’re not Betty Draper