The Quarter Life Crisis
(Disclaimer: Relatable only to Gen Y and later generations)
My dreary eyes were exhausted. It was almost noon, I walk over to the living room that was vitalized by the smell of ‘tadka’, the little pops of mustard seeds spluttering in hot oil, indicated the making of my mom’s signature Sunday brunch- Paneer stuffed Baati and Dal.
I gulp a few ounces of ice cold water and grab a golden wrapper-ed ‘Bournville’ off the refrigerator door to quieten my growling tummy. I Log in to my blog page and type the words, in dreamy unconsciousness, still musing about the feature comedy film I had binged on last night.
‘THE QUARTER LIFE CRISIS’
The heading of my blog is well bolded. Similar to the title of the movie.
“Ah….the life of a twenty something……” Russel Peter’s butch Indo-Canadian voice beams inside my head.
Something about the movie got me hooked. It wasn’t Lisa Ray’s yearning for a true love or the stark infidelity portrayed in Maulik Pancholi’s character. It was something else, something deeper. But I wasn’t able to pin it down.
My dad peers over my shoulder on to the laptop screen and gives a judgmental chuckle before he settles down on the milk-white chaise lounge next to me. He stretches his rangy legs over the length of the furniture and flips open the day’s Newspaper.
I nibble on my dark chocolate bar, wishing the flavanols and theobromines packed in the cocoa rich confectionery stimulate my neurons enough to bleed out a few good lines.
“Quarter Life Crisis huh?” I could sense my dad’s curious eyes on me. The rectangle of the silver rimmed glasses never seemed to be able to contain his large brown eyes. It felt as if the nose piece of his reading glasses had slid a few more inches down his slant nasal bone as he craned down to take a look at me.
“You are 23. You just finished your Masters from an esteemed University and got placed in a well paying job even before you could step out of the Campus…you haven’t started a family, changed your kid’s diaper or had to deal with dwindling finances………What crisis would you possibly be dealing with?” the question seemed blatant.
He was right, I was a post-grad with a high-end cash job, Unmarried and planning to gift myself an iphone 6 plus next month.
But was I happy? Was my life devoid of any Crises? Were problems, properties solely exclusive to Mid-life or old age?
Well…I beg to differ, dad. I beg to differ.
Let me tell you about us, The Gen ‘Y’s who spent our childhood playing Mario using a Joy stick and got glued to the TV as Tom and Jerry rallied through the screen. We are branded as the safest and the smartest generation ever. But there are more layers to our character than is visible.
Let me jot them down for you.
The Gen ‘OWLS’:
Instead of naming us the Gen Y, we’d rather be called the Gen ‘OWLS’. No, we do not have more rods than cone receptors in our eyes rendering us night vision nor does our eye glow at night due to the presence of tapetum lucidum. But working night shift, attending client calls from half the world and time zone away from us, late night movie marathons and after sunset parties have ripped us off our abilities to live a diurnal life. We don’t just feel more alive but even think better at nights.
This nocturnal lifestyle has wreaked havoc on our health. From obesity to cardiac failures we fall prey to diseases even before we learn the names of them.
Nothing defines us better than Quickies. We want everything quick from meals to wheels. We hate even the word ‘wait’. Patience is never our virtue. We love jingles more than dragging melodies, want a quick fix to all our problems, be it a viral fever or fatal cancer we prefer medicines that work ‘faster’ than ‘better’, we search the internet everyday for faster ways to make money and move on from a relationship even before our partners walked past our street.
In the pursuit of ‘Quick’ solutions we have lost the ‘Real’ ones.
Gone are the days when we were categorized by the type of GOD we preferred. We are the heterodox clan. We are diversified not with the way of worship but by our ideologies. Idealism, Realism, hedonism, Methodism are doctrines that govern us. Instead of being branded by birth we orient ourselves as we evolve.
We haven’t just forgotten God in this process, we also have completely ignored the core of the old religious beliefs ‘Treat another person as you would treat yourself’.
Our age is an age of the internet. People who live continents apart are just a click away. Our Wi-fi has shriveled the world onto our laptop screen. I was more than proud when the Paris attacks were condemned worldwide and aids for the Chennai floods flew in from all around the world. From stock markets to money transfer everything has become easy.
But what are we risking with this?
Not just our privacy but every second of our precious time that could have been used to paint a canvas, play a recorder or even revel at an infant’s smile. Like drug addiction, our gadget addiction is killing relationships and felicity.
‘DOA’ love life:
LOVE- do we really know what this word signifies?
No, we aren’t fantasizing about a Prince Charming in his golden Armour, riding a hefty white stallion, its mane waving with the gentle breeze. Our Mr.Perfect is either the chalky skinned vampire Edward or the fanged, werewolf Jacob. Could we be more unrealistic?
We spend more ‘face time’ with our partners than real time. What is supposed to be a sensual touch of his hot skin over ours, sky rocketing our estrogen levels, just ends up being a pouting smiley on our iphone screen. We find his likes on facebook and dislike his page just after a break-up. We are scared to even expect a long term or a long-distance relationship.
Our Love is more mechanical than the humanoid in the Will smith starring movie- I, Robot.
The diet Deity:
The zero figure Victoria’s secret models and hunked up macho men become our deities, weighing machines and measuring tapes are our bible and our flash diets our mantras. Our foods range from protein shakes to the low brow guilty pleasure, Mc.D’s double burgers. We are either clogging our colons or cleansing our entire digestive tract. It is never the mid-ground between the two. Though our mouth waters for a plate of fries, our brains suggest we take a healthy baked version.
We care more about calories than the satisfaction provided by our gastric indulgences. But the genetically modified veggies and hormone injected meats don’t do justice to our well being.
Self-obsessed? Nah……we are Selfie-obsessed.
Instead of looking at the chromatic rays of the dawn sun, arching out between the luscious green, dew-kissed leaves of a larch, we see the beauty of the world through the 16 megapixel front camera of our smartphones , silhouetting our own zombie-faces. And oh! Our Selfie deaths….
Seriously? What was he trying to click? A ‘Killer’ shot for his obituary?
Following Russia turning to USSR almost a century ago, we live as UISG. Yes, we cannot call ourselves families anymore. We are UISGs- United Individuals with Similar Genes. We prefer personal space to heartfelt conversations and get to check our brother’s Whatsapp status to know where he is. With each one of us running races either towards money, success, career or ego, We live as islands that are just connected by a slim thread of bloodline affection.
Our lack of communication has made even Thanksgiving dinner seem like the mourning of a relative.We sit there in front of a thyme scented roast turkey, engrossed in our personal gadgets unaware of mom’s efforts to make a sumptuous meal or even the life sacrifice of the fowl lying on the table.
Emotions? Please…..they aren’t cool……
We shy away from all emotions, be it good or bad. It just doesn’t seem like our cup of green tea. We are supposed to be ‘PRACTICAL’ not emotional. We have completely forgotten the bliss of buying a new outfit for our mom or a Rolex watch for our dad from our first month’s salary. We have suppressed the tears that overflow as we think of our NRI sibling.
Instead of feeling an emotion, all we do is adorn a skeptical glass, get into an ‘auto-shrink’ mode and start analyzing why or how we let ourselves emote. We mask our emotions and corpse through life.
Living in the moment:
I caught one of my friends last week in the dorm toilet smoking pot. I held her arm mid-way as she brought the blunt stub close to her lips.
“What the hell….?” her anger resonated in her ‘high’ voice.
“Come on Tia…you know this isn’t good..it is injurious to your health….you might fall sick even tomorrow…..” I volunteered, concerned.
“I don’t care about tomorrow or the future…..I live in the moment….” she took another fag as the smoke made my eyes teary.
Yes, you guessed right, many of us have completely misinterpreted the theory of living in the moment. We have leaned more towards momentary pleasures rather than understanding the real essence of the phrase which is putting your heart and soul in the here and now and working on it to build a better future.
The smudged boundary:
With the trending black comedy movies and obscured cultural orientations, our sense of right and wrong are ambiguous. Sure, it gives a better perspective to life and we are less judgmental but with the mark of our limits and boundaries smeared like a mascara-ed eyelash after tears have rained through it, we aren’t sure if the line even exists.
Every existing moment, we are caught in a dilemma, trying to stabilize our morale. Just trying to visualize that line.
‘Now, Tell me dad…..Do I have crises or Do I have crises?’
I finish typing and stare at those big brown eyes that are still interpreting the words blinking on my computer screen.(Believe me, the Gen Y can type and read off a virtual screen faster than the others)
He finally finishes going through it and darts his spectacle clad eyes towards me. No, it wasn’t cynical anymore. He pushed his glasses up and cleared his throat before,
“My little girl……Let me just tell you something…..”
Then came the most LEGEN-wait for it-DARY words ever.
“What you compromise in your young life….is what will haunt you in your later life…….So make rational compromises”
There was a momentary pause before he went on, “If you give up on family, friends or health now for the sake of social media, career or money…… You will end up alone in a huge mansion with no one to give a damn about your wet old-people diapers……If you give up on your values now…you will lose your identity and self worth….If you compromise on your kindness today..all you will be left is a group of acquaintances that would leech you for their needs….If you let go of your emotions…well..you would still live but the life in you would have been long gone……The choice is yours my angel….Pick not what you want now but what a septuagenarian version of you would rather have….”
He ran his fingers through my matted hair gently and like the hot sun gleaming after a rainy day, dispersing the gloomy clouds and clearing the heavy set fog, all the dubiousness in me vanished with his clever words.
“make rational compromises…..”, the words reverberated in my mind again.
How true the words sounded……I was literally cribbing about the things I had given up, compromised for the sake of something else. I was unhappy because of my choice of compromises.And all I had to do to turn my life around, make it more soulful and make better compromises.
What would an old me do? She would put her phone down and listen to mom narrate her wedding story, run to the kitchen and make dad’s favorite banana smoothie and walk out of the house to have a look at the breath-taking rose bed in my garden. True, These weren’t worthy compromises, I should have never given them up ever.
My dad did not storm me with verses and verses of advise. He never told me which path I had to choose or what was right and wrong. He just threw me the gauntlet to pick what a 70-something me would be happy to have.
I felt more confident, uncluttered and most of all LOVED. I knew I would fight through and emerge out of the crisis unscathed.
Yes, my fellow Gen Y, the only solution to your Quarter life crisis is to not give up things that really matter and to start liking people rather than their profile pictures.
Let’s not even look at the issues of our young adult life as crises, we shall make it our own quarter life options, and make intelligent compromises.
Shrewd Compromises to you……!!!!!