The feeling is famous. That sneaky dread, working its way from the back of your skull down to your belly. Thoughts racing through your mind: What does all of this mean?
An existential crisis can take many forms. Maybe you see your friend’s “save the date” and it makes you burst into tears even though there’s nothing to be upset about (except, of course, the unrelenting passage of time). Perhaps you catch a glimpse of your profile in your bathroom mirror, and you can’t remember when you started looking so… old. And, of course, there’s the ever-popular dead-end job challenge to contend with. You’re 31, when do you “start doing what you love for work, so you never work a day in your life”?
I actually have no idea how to handle an existential crisis. So, instead, I’m going to outline advice that’s been given to me, along with my very appropriate responses. Maybe we’ll learn something together. Let’s go!
Don’t you love when people tell you to calm down? If there is any guaranteed method of cranking someone’s crisis lever from zero to sixty, it’s “calm down.” Oh, and another thing: Don’t tell me to keep calm and carry on. Don’t tell me to keep calm and drink wine, or pet a dog, etc. When was the last time you saw a calm woman win a triathlon? Oh, you haven’t? Because being calm is overrated? Exactly.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Who do you think I am, Lou Vega? I already know what I have. I love it all so, so much. However – and this is a big however – my dope globe bar is not what defines me. My book collection, vast as it may be, does not define me. Even my family, my husband – these people do not define me. (If you are picking up on some veiled brags, you are correct, and I also have a classical Taylor that I am obsessed with). Humans are curious creatures. I want more, and I do not think that’s a bad thing to say. I want more for my husband, my cat, and everyone I love. Is it really selfish to want more if you want more for everyone?
LOOK HOW FAR YOU’VE COME
KEEP WORKING HARD
I hate this one because it’s true, but only barely. “Keep working hard.” Telling a 31 year old to keep working hard to achieve their dreams in 2021 is like telling an 18 year old to go to college: You are filling their heads with false hope and costing them money. With income inequality reaching its highest level in over 50 years, our age bracket is, generally speaking, “effed.” My husband and I were preparing for homeownership back in 2019 and now, with the pandemic, we find ourselves pining for just a larger apartment.
“Keep working hard” really means work until you make the right connection. It sucks, but it’s true. If you’re a woman, it’s even harder. So, while this might be the best advice you can receive, it is also the most depressing. Because you have already been working so hard, haven’t you? You feel like you’ve been working hard since you were a kid and now you’re being asked to just hold on a little longer and work a little harder. Maybe you feel like it’s all carrot and no stick.
GET DRUNK WITH A FRIEND
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