Tales from the “Post Quarter Life Crisis” (PQLC)

Author: Jennifer Barackman

What is the “Quarter Life Crisis” anyway? For me it started with the “OMG, I’m entering my late 20’s” panic attacks. Drinking at bars became something of the past, having a glass of wine or a beer after work in my PJ’s, the future. The feeling that your massive crush on Taylor Lautner is somewhat inappropriate. The scary realization that you could be the mother of one of the kids in that boy band “One Direction” (they are like 13, right?). The incessant questioning of whether you’ve chosen the correct career and life path. Wondering if you will ever be able to live comfortably financially. And that wonderful ticking clock for starting a family (yes it’s real and yes it sucks). And wishing for nothing more than to be able to put life on hold and go live in some romantic Italian villa for a year.

Even though, most days I wake up still feeling very much like I am 24 and not yet ready for this bombardment of huge life decisions, it’s not all scary. The second half of your 20’s also brings more serious, settled relationships, advancing in your career goals, you start making grown-up purchases, you have a better sense of who you are and what you want out of life and for many of my friends it brought, engagements, marriage, and children. While it’s easy to get all Negative Nancy at this stage in your life because most likely life hasn’t unfolded just like you thought it would, it’s important to take a moment to take stock in what you do have in your life. When I was younger and extremely naive I wanted it all. I thought I would be married by 21, popping kids out by 23, and also have an awesome dream career. I also, wanted to be a professional cheerleader and marry Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid” for a brief period of my childhood. So, to say that all my thoughts were grounded in reality would be false.

Then when you actually turn 21 and are in your Senior year of college you think how absurd it would be for you to be married anytime soon… and kids? Ha! You are still one yourself. I know many people make this work, but I quickly realized it wouldn’t be that way for me. Even now, I am not yet married and don’t have kids, even though I do very much want both things, I also want a career as a writer and with that comes job insecurity and sometimes small paychecks, but it’s my dream. It’s a balance, really, and it also helps that it has become socially acceptable to start families later now than our parents did, the pressure has sort of been lifted. I also live in LA and if you frequent any bars out here you are going to find a large concentration of men in their late 20’s with not even a glimmer of thought about marriage on their minds, so that narrows the potential husband playing field considerably.

I look around at my friend’s lives and realize that while most of them got married before they were 25, they took their time before having kids and while they have jobs that make them happy they’ve confessed to me that a job wasn’t their dream but being a mom was and that’s a decision I respect entirely. What I have realized since I entered my late 20’s is that it’s okay if life isn’t turning out how you always dreamed it would, because that allows for the exciting twists and turns, I am still a total hopeless romantic, I am healthier now than I ever have been in my life, I still can’t hold my liquor and whether it be a girl’s night out or a cozy night in with the bf, I love my life and try to enjoy every moment of it.

5 Comments
  1. I was seriously thinking last night that I wished Forever Twenty Somethings would post an article about this. I’m turning 24 next month and have been FREAKING that all my friends are getting married. Great article!

  2. Dead on! This girl knows where it’s at. The exact thoughts I had when I turned 27. I still feel like a kid, so when friends around me are getting married and popping out babies, I do often ponder, ‘am I missing something?’ But it’s true in the end its not about the expectations we had when we were little it’s about doing what makes us happy in the present. This article made me want to summarize my own PQLC lesson, so here it is ‘assumptions of how life should be are detrimental and instead it’s about letting your goals guide you to the unexpected.’ Great article! Great topic 🙂

  3. Hey Jennifer, great post on an important topic. I’m writing on the the QLC as well… focusing on quelling the QLC. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

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