By Shalini Banerjee:
Quarter life crisis began for me from the moment I stepped into my 20s. Suddenly everything seemed to be in sharper focus. Life, it turned out, is even weirder than the chaos of the teenage years. I suddenly realized that I am not young enough to party late into the night anymore, neither am I old enough to command the respect I secret wish for.
Many, like me, probably are in their first jobs right now, having completed education. We don’t have enough experience to go on to a better (dream) job but I am sure most of us are trying to adjust to the corporate life our jobs have thrown at us. Suddenly ‘colleagues’ surround us. Sometimes the mentality matches and sometimes the flow of conversation just washes over me. I am dying to fit in. It had been so easy to carve a niche out for myself with my childhood, school and college friends, what’s changed now? The feeling of growing up and taking responsibilities completely freaks me out, especially when I come to realize that the amount of time it took me to get from the good old 1999 to the perfectly alien 2016 is exactly what I have in hand to get to the science-fiction year of 2033!
I do not fit into the hip crowd of college goers anymore, and neither am I pursuing a serious, fixed career. I have come to realize that the dreams that I had seen when I was in college were all starry-eyed. As the reality seeps in I want to change the world, I want to make it a ‘better’ place. I want to make a difference by etching my own mark in the world.
Most of us are away from our hometown and are trying to grapple with the real world. I, for one, miss home but rarely admit it, hiding the longing behind a façade of bravery and necessity. For those of you who are still in your hometown, I’m sure you need to struggle harder to change life in your own terms amidst those known faces and those familiar judgments.
Overnight I have become a cynic, not trusting people or their judgments easily. When I sit around trying to conduct a conversation, mostly formal, in a flash I reminisce about the times when it was so easy sitting around a broken table chatting with friends, laughing over something inane. It makes me realize how uncomplicated my life used to be, how carefree I used to be. Now, I have started shouldering responsibilities: paying my bills, thinking about tax (imagine! It finally exists outside Mathematics textbooks), looking back to make sure that I have locked the door, or that I have all my belongings with me when I leave the house.
Before, I would simply meet up with friends and then construct the plan of action for the day. Now I make plans to meet up with friends. I look at younger kids and shake my head saying, “Hum kabhi aise nahi the yaar” (We were never like this). Suddenly I have discovered a couple of grey hair in my mane of black cascading tresses. Looking at my old pictures, I shake my head, disbelief apparent at how silly I used to look. Mortality has hit me hard. It is no longer wrapped in the uncertain bubble of the ‘future’. Future has become too accessible, unfortunately.
I feel like Rachael when she said that epic line in that very popular 90s show, “Everyone is either getting married or getting promoted or having babies. And I am getting coffee! And it’s not even for me!” My newsfeed is full of wedding pictures shared by my friends. My family has just begun to doubt my whole “career-comes-first” attitude. The mere prospect of meeting my relatives makes me want to go underground. I am at that age where the mere sight of my alarm clocks sets my teeth grinding and the mere sight of my bed makes me weep with relief. And finally, I have begun to realize the meaning of this line from F.R.I.E.N.D.S, “Welcome to the real world! It sucks! You’re going to love it!”