I think I’m in a mid-20s life crisis.
I’m questioning everything I know, everything I’ve become, and all of the choices I’ve made in the two decades prior. Like many millennials my age, I wonder if I’ve fallen off Facebook’s perfect love timeline, if I’ll ever be able to repay the student loan debt that keeps me up at night, whether or not I have hobbies or passions remaining, and if I’m the only one experiencing these 20-something-year-old millennial struggles.
In sharing all of my doubts, I’ve found I’m not alone. At first, I was reassured by others my age. Being 20-something is hard. Then, millennials in their 30s told me they’ve had similar feelings. Apparently it’s a millennial thing, I thought. But soon—much to my surprise—I had grandparents, over-the-hill coworkers, and many others reaching out to me saying, “I remember the challenges of being in the 20s; they went away and have been replaced by the challenges of my 40s.” I guess questioning life is just a part of life.
But still, I wondered if there was a way to assess just how well I was doing throughout this whole life thing. Is my career on track? Am I spending enough time with family? Is it okay if I don’t have a ring on my finger?
Up until this point, I’ve always had a report card to tell me how I was doing. I strived for excellence—nothing short of a 3.8 GPA. Perfectionism became an obsession. Monitoring my progress was one of my favorite things in high school and college. But the day I graduated college, that all went out the window.
What am I supposed to do now? Who’s going to tell me how I’m doing? Where’s my life report card? Having contemplated this idea before, here are the areas I presume I would be graded:
I’d really like to know how I’m doing here. Sure, I have student loans, but doesn’t everyone? I don’t have credit card debt… does that count for anything? I’m saving… not as much as I’d like, but some nonetheless. I have an emergency fund—does that bring me to a B- at least?
Okay, okay, I could cut back on spending money on expensive lattes and eating out with friends, but should I sacrifice all my fun for financial health? Is one job enough? Maybe I should go back to two. How do I balance my time and money?
Speaking of time… where can I buy some? My 40-hour work week moves at a glacial pace, but my weekends slip away as fast as the sand in an hourglass. Monday morning always arrives too soon. Can I tell it just to hold off for just 24 more hours?
And what marks the fine line between time wasted and time well spent? Who’s the judge? I’d like to clarify.
Should I be sleeping more and socializing less? Perhaps I should be following the old saying, “Life is too short, you can sleep when you’re dead.” Should I be taking advantage of happy hours with friends before I have kids or getting much needed rest on my weeknights?
Then there’s weekends. Sure it’s nice to Netflix and chill, but what kind of a story is that to tell my future grandchildren? Can’t you hear it? Well kiddos, in her 20s, your grandmother was well-rested and set a record for most Netflix series watched in a 10-year period. Snoooore.
According to Facebook, my “relationship status” is totally lacking. Should I be jumping on the bandwagon, getting engaged, and planning the most Pinterest-worthy wedding? Or should I hold out until the time is right?
What’s the cutoff for marriage? If I wait any longer, will I miss the window of opportunity and end up a sad, depressed singleton with way too many cats? How long are my eggs good for? What if I wait too long and can’t have kids?
When I do get married someday, who’s going to tell me if I’m a good wife? Who will determine who was at fault in our petty fights? Lord knows my husband won’t tell me I’m right. Perhaps an A+ on my life report card would.
How much is too much time spent with family? Should I be traveling home every weekend to check in on my parents? God forbid something awful were to happen, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. Or maybe I should respect their boundaries. Now that my brother are I are graduated, they’re probably having the time of their lives.
And what about siblings? I’m the older sibling… does that mean the responsibility to communicate lies in my hands? I’ve definitely failed in that department. Sorry bro.
Gluten-free, healthy, clean, low-fat, vegetarian, vegan, organic, etc. All of these are buzz words when it comes to food. What diet should I be on? What’s considered healthy and what’s just a trend?
Should I be on a diet at all? Maybe I should just hit the gym. Am I allowed to eat out? Should I sweat about my weight or say forget it and enjoy a greasy slice of pizza and an ice cold beer? Getting skinny isn’t half as fun as being skinny. And I’ll never give up ice cream or wine.
Mentally, am I sane? I guess it would depend on whom you ask. Should I be taking periodic mental health days? Or should I suck it up and live miserably with mounds of stress? How do I detox? Am I halfway to schizophrenia?
Is life about resume virtues or eulogy virtues? Sure, I can argue that when I die people will be less concerned with my credentials and more concerned about the kind of person I was, but… my career is what pays the bills. Should I be putting in more hours at the office or ensuring I have the perfect work/life balance?
And when I’m at work, how do I know if I’m meeting expectations? I want to exceed them… but where’s the letter grade to tell me if I’ve even met the standard? Sometimes I’d rather have praise over a raise.
I think many would agree with me that receiving a monthly report card would take a lot of guesswork out of life. It would solidify our decisions, keep our goals on track, and reassure us that we’re doing just fine.
But then again, where’s the fun in that?
Part of the beauty in life is the unknown, the valuable mistakes we make, and the path that leads us to wisdom.