Thursday, April 3, 2008

Quarter-life Crisis

I think the chain of events that led to my most recent mental breakdown is kind of hilarious. After being carded in Ireland (God bless the nice blind man), where the drinking age is 18, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. Actually, the lady standing next to the blind man congratulated me when I told her I was 24. "You look fabulous!" Then I came home from Ireland and asked my husband the stupidest question ever....

"Honey, am I beginning to look my age?"

Now, gentleman, you know what the correct response is to this, right? To stop the car in the middle of the road, get out, and run like hell. I forget Jere only has a year's worth of experience at this marriage dealy, so he actually answers. "Yes." And at my gaping expression he explains, "Mostly around the eyes." Like that makes it better. Poor guy.

So yesterday I was standing in the shower and reached for my facial scrub (a step I usually skip), and mentally reminded myself to make sure to moisturize after I got out. Which reminded me I had vitamin E eye cream in my bag I could use to get rid of dark circles. Then I began to think that I was using a whole lot of different creams and whatnot, and don't only old people need that many creams to look young? And at that point I started thinking that I'm going to be 25, and 25 is really old, and all my friends are having kids, and maybe I should go back to school. But I hated school, and my credits aren't going anywhere, and I need to see the world before I die. In fact, I need to see the world NOW, and began to list all the places out loud I want to go before I'm decrepit.

All while standing there in the shower, holding a tube of peach scrub and staring off into space.

Now I know what most of you are thinking. How can I have any kind of crisis? I've been to more places than some people will reach in a lifetime, I don't have to work, my husband makes a comfortable living, and I'm about to become a valley girl with a gorgeous view of the mountains out the window of my ginormous apartment. To all those naysayers, well, screw you. Despite current restlessness, I am blissfully happy and love my life. But sitting at home with nothing to worry about leaves a lot of time for thinking, and we all know that's a dangerous pursuit.

My friends, I want you think back ten years. Remember being young and optimistic? We were in high school, and were just beginning to take the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" seriously. Get into the mind of your 14 or 15 year old self and remember what your dreams were. Where did you think you'd be by your mid-twenties? Close your eyes and think. Have you done everything you said you would?

Well, considering I'm not working for NASA, I'd say I'm a wee bit behind on that dream thing. Back then it was so easy to dream big because we had the most promising developmental years ahead of you. We all swore we'd attend and graduate college (and some of us did). But now that I'm almost 25, the years ahead don't look quite as wonderful. Mostly because I know 30 is five years away. I guess when it comes down to it, I'm just feeling my age.

And apparently looking it, too.

Today's lesson comes from the author Douglas Coupland (and bless Aunt Debbie for giving me his book ten years before I needed it), who defines a mid-twenties breakdown as: "A period of mental collapse occurring in one's twenties, often caused by an inability to function outside of school or structured environments, coupled with a realisation of one's essential aloneness in the world. Often marks induction into the ritual of pharmaceutical usage."

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