Everyone knows about the classic midlife crisis: you realize you’re getting old and get freaked out about your status in life. What I’m not sure gets nearly enough attention is the quarter life crisis: you realize you have no fucking clue what you want to do with your life at exactly the time you’re supposed to have figured it all out. While the midlife crisis is the most cliché, the quarter life crisis is arguably the most universal, even if it didn’t have a name before now.
I am a 20 year-old college graduate with an AS in Culinary Arts. I knew from the time I was 12 years old that I wanted to be a chef. I have known since I was 15 that I wanted to attend Johnson & Wales University. At 18 I acquired the latter and just before my 20th birthday I loosely acquired the former. And now just five months later, at 20 years old, I am absolutely positive that I do not ever want to work in a kitchen again.
For as long as I have been able to work a range by myself, I have known exactly how I wanted to spend my life. There were no doubts, no second guesses, and no consideration for any other field. I was a rarity in my age group and I was proud of it. Now as I sit on my couch writing this, I realize just how stupid I was. If only I had explored other options then, or even attended a university with a wider set of majors, I wouldn’t be gearing up to reapply for another college in the fall. I wouldn’t be 24 before being able to start any kind of career that I love. And maybe I wouldn’t be working three part time jobs just to make ends meet.
Thankfully, I got out of the food industry before it made me hate to cook. I still love to cook and am called upon by most of both my family and my boyfriend’s to cook for every occasion. I still veg out to Food Network; and I still love the produce isle of Publix. The difference now, is that I realize that this is a HOBBY and nothing more. But now I have to face the same anxieties that most have been going through since high school: What the hell do I want to be when I grow up?
As for now, I think the answer is elementary education. But in a few months or a few years, I may change my mind again. For the first time in my life, I am terrified of my future because I have no idea what it holds. I have no idea if I’ll ever find something to make me happy.
And this, my friends, is the quarter life crisis.