Community: Real Life

Mid-twenties crisis


I was born in Santiago, Chile, and I've also lived in Paris and the US. After six years studying at a university in Santiago I'm now a psychologist and hope to work for underprivileged children. I'm very passionate about everything I do and have also done volunteering in the past. I enjoy art, cinema, a good book, pizza and I'm a confessed chocaholic.

Catalina can't believe that no-one warned her about the mid-twenties crisis, before it hit her slap in the face.

Remember how when you were younger, you always thought that by a certain age everything would just slot into place? When I was 15 I thought in ten years time I'd be starting a great career in my chosen field, living in a nice flat in my favourite part of town, and if I wasn't married, I'd be in a solid long-term relationship with the man of my dreams. Everything was going to be perfect. Want to guess what happened? Ten years later and I've achieved none of the above. For many months after I graduated I was jobless, I'm as single as I ever have been, and I'm living in my parents' house. Please don't all congratulate me at once.

The interesting part is that talking about this with friends at a birthday party, after a drink or two, we all found ourselves ranting about the state of our lives. Having all recently left uni our lives seem to have turned out very differently from what we'd planned and imagined. At least this was a collective phenomenon then, and one that I've subsequently diagnosed as the mid-twenties life crisis.

No, I wasn't the first to name it, but up to then, I'd never heard about it before. Why didn't anybody warn me of its existence? Everyone's heard of teenage turmoil, first-time parenting and the mid-life crisis, but why did they leave out such a difficult time of life, the mid-twenties? For many it's a time when you've finished uni, you're proud of your academic achievement, but have no idea where to head next. You want to be independent, but for that you need a job. Where do you find one? You have the expectation that with a degree everything will come your way. Wrong, it's not so easy. After the frustration of filling out numerous applications, you finally get a job, even in the area you hoped for, but after a month discover you hate it. If you dare complain about it then you have to put up with people lecturing you on how that's the way life is" and how you're lucky to even have found a job at all being so young. Your parents look at you confused, Isn't this what you wanted? What do you want to do instead?" Well, if only you could answer those questions yourself.

"Have I really concentrated on my career too much? Has it been worth it? What would I rather do? If only I knew."

And I haven't even begun on the ever-so-touchy subject of the dating world. Your nosy aunt starts asking, So, do you have a boyfriend?" Er, no. Oh really? Why not?" Do they ever stop to think that if you knew the reason, you would have done something about it and therefore have one already? After resisting the urge to pull a Bridget Jones on them and say, Maybe it's because my skin is covered in scales", you manage to put on a polite smile and a timid shrug and remark: Well, I don't know, I guess I haven't found the right person yet", with your voice trailing away in hope that they'll let the subject drop.

But, alas, no! They continue to bother you and analyse the strange phenomenon that you don't have a boy to take care of you: Maybe you've concentrated too much on your career?", Maybe you're too picky?", and Maybe you need to meet new people?" Well, you think, thank you for such insightful suggestions, you seem to know my life better than me, plus those reasons had never occurred to me 'till now! So before things get really dangerous - meaning they start to take out some of their friends' single sons' numbers, (oh he's such a charming boy, he's so nice to his mother"), I usually find a way to flee the scene.

But even in the peace of solitude, I start questioning all my decisions up to then. Have I really concentrated on my career too much? Has it been worth it? What would I rather do? If only I knew. And concerning my love life, after I had the pleasure of going to six different friends' weddings in eight months, the dreaded question arises with even more force than it ever has: Will it ever be my turn? If you're a control-freak like me, you'll find these issues are not easy to tackle, as you have no idea what's going to happen in the future. I hate not knowing! Could someone give me a map of my life please? I seemed to have come to a massive crossroad in my life, but which road leads me to a place called 'Happiness'? Ah, everything would be so much easier if I knew.

What I want to know is why did no-one warn me about this?! If you've recently left uni and realise your life isn't what you had expected at this stage of your life, or you've no idea how to continue going forward, welcome on board. You are experiencing the mid-twenties life crisis. At least now you know.

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Updated: 19/09/2006

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