Now, based on her own experience and interviews with hundreds of women, she shares heartfelt stories on issues from career to parents to boyfriends to babies. When I started talking honestly about my life, and the frustrations and issues that were driving me crazy, I discovered that most of my girlfriends were in the same situation. We bonded over our shared sense that nothing is really wrong, but nothing really feels right, either.
A quarter-life crisis is defined by the online dictionary Word Spy as Feelings of confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt experienced by some people in their twenties, especially after completing their education. This phrase has been around since the early nineties but has really caught on as more and more twenty-somethings began to talk about it. Quarter-lifers feel the pressure to make their twenty- something years the time when everything needs to be decided from where to live, to what to do for a living, to who to live with. Since I felt like I was having one of my own, the issue of how twenty-something women experience an advanced midlife crisis fascinated me.
Consequently, I began interviewing women between the ages of twenty-two and thirty-three about what I simply refer to as the twenty-something crisis. I began by just talking to my friends, who then starting talking to their friends, about their twenty-something experiences. So many of us had so much to talk about that I started a discussion and support group for twenty-something women out of my apartment in Los Angeles.
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We gathered monthly, and each meeting focused on a particular topic, from relationships to money to health. I also formulated a survey focusing on the issues and concerns of twenty-something women that eventually became the backbone of my research for this book. Thanks to Internet technology, the survey went all over the country and even to a few other countries. Hundreds of women completed the survey, the majority of whom I did not know. The twenty-something group, surveys, and additional one-on-one interviews I conducted afforded me a wealth of information about the concerns and experiences of twenty-something women who could relate to feeling like their lives were in crises.
20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman's Guide to Balance and Direction
Over the past four years, I have had the amazing opportunity to hear from hundreds of women in various circumstances, cities, and cultures. They were open, honest, and willing to share deep personal thoughts. I am grateful for their contribution to this book, which also guided me through critical moments in my own crisis and inspired me to get to my computer and write. Throughout my research, I immediately felt a connection to other twenty-something women as they shared this time in their lives.
Here are two stories typical of those I heard. At twenty-three, Loren admits that she feels like a complete and total mess. Everything in her life seems out of control, as if she were standing in the middle of a circle with every aspect of her life that she loves such as her family and everything she is searching for such as a career spinning wildly around her.
I am trying to grab on to anything, but it keeps slipping through my fingers.
Loren always thought she knew what she wanted, but when faced with having to get it, she feels like a failure because she has only unanswered questions. Loren is unemployed, lives at home, is single, and hates the way she looks. But ever since she was a little girl, she had expected to have a great career and be engaged by age twenty-five.
To make matters worse, she is surrounded by peers who brag about working for Big Five companies. Her friends are in serious relationships and seem happy with their lives. Seeing all this has left me feeling so empty and like I am just floating along in life, going through the motions. The fact that she is miles from anything she pictured for herself makes her sick to her stomach. Loren is experiencing the typical symptoms of a twenty-something crisis.
On the list of things that a twenty-something woman supposedly should have, Clara has each item checked off except one: happiness. On my twenty-sixth birthday, I did not even want to get out of bed because I was unhappy, confused, and stressed out. I feel like I am doing all the right things, but they just are not clicking. On the outside, Clara has everything going for her, but inside she is haunted by questions such as Am I climbing the right corporate ladder, and should I keep climbing it?
Is Steve the one? Should I get engaged? How will I get far enough in my career that I have time to have babies? Do I even want kids? If so, will I keep working once I have them? Will I ever be content with my body? What is my passion?
15 Books to Give Your Friends Going Through a Quarter-Life Crisis
Although the word crisis sounds rather dismal and drastic, do not fret — you have not been diagnosed with something unique or incurable. Quarter-life women all over the country are trying to do and have everything, but they are plagued by anxiety, confusion, and expectations.
They describe their twenties as a time of struggle, saying things such as:. It is time of dating, living with others, breaking up, and establishing independence from my family. While a lot of attention has been paid to the midlife crisis and the changes that menopause bring to women, for the most part the changes that happen in our quarter-life are just recently being talked about.
During the time when I was looking for answers and guidance, I searched the self-improvement sections of bookstores but always came up empty-handed. There were books that reported on the challenges we face in our twenties, but few that offered personal explanations or solutions. We are told that the twenties are the time of our lives, yet many of us admit that we are not having much fun.
We tuck away our fears and doubts while we try to figure out who we are and what we want. You graduate from college and have to find your way in the real world. You learn that there is no perfect job. There is no perfect relationship. My friends and I have referred to this as a period of becoming jaded. Add to this the challenge of developing strategies to have a family and a career, and you get the special stress of being a twenty-something woman.
Our twenties are a turning point in our lives where we feel pressure to do, well, everything. As the security blankets of college and parents are peeled away, we are faced with finding jobs, building careers, perhaps moving to new cities, separating from our old support systems, taking care of our own finances, dating, marriage, thinking about children, starting families, making our first large investments, creating new social lives, watching our parents age, and shaping an identity to last the rest of our adulthood.
That is more responsibility than we have ever been faced with. Most of us got the sex talk and learned a few family recipes; yet few of us were told about these confusing years, when our entire lives lie in front of us and it seems that any step we take will have momentous, lifelong consequences. Though many of us would like to, we cannot fault our parents entirely. Their twenty-something experiences were just not the same. The concerns of a twenty-something woman today are unique to both our generation and our gender. We face different issues than our parents, particularly our mothers, faced.
Our mothers were among the first generation of women who considered a wider range of life options even though many of them followed traditional paths, working as secretaries, nurses, or teachers and giving up their careers when they had children. We are the first generation of women to grow up hearing, You can be anything you want to be and You can have it all. We are the first to be raised by so many single parents. We are a generation who made eating disorders an epidemic and antidepressants as common as Advil.
We were on birth control by the time we were sixteen. We made plastic surgery at a young age acceptable.
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For instance:. What stands out from this feedback is that no one reported feeling a dramatic sense of pressure and expectation. A few mentioned being scared and challenged, yet the sense of being overwhelmed that I hear from women today was not there. Has the anything is possible mentality we grew up with made us feel that twenty-something has to become twenty-everything?
Has a limitless number of choices created an inability to pick just one? Perhaps our endless options have made us unable to confidently embark on one path.
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Now, you might be wondering, What about men? Generally, the answer is yes. The stress that the twenties dish out is a rite of passage for both sexes, since we all must carve out an identity and make life-changing decisions. However, many variables are unique to the female experience.
Anyone especially men would agree that women differ from men psychologically and emotionally, which affects the way we handle our quarter-life issues. We nitpick, analyze, and scrutinize every aspect of our lives, and we tend to be more sensitive and more dramatic. Additionally, physical alterations in our twenties set us apart from men. Thanks to hormones, our bodies tend to change more than theirs do usually not in ways we are thrilled about , and we can become more obsessed with our physical appearance.
Most men in their twenties can still eat a burger and fries, top it off with a six-pack of beer, and not feel guilty or bloated the next day. Women, on the other hand, struggle with eating disorders, diets, and discontentment with our bodies. And while we are dealing with our physical changes, we may also hear the distinct tick-tock of the biological clock, made louder by research that tells us fertility declines with age. Unlike men, who can have children at almost any age, women who want babies feel that they have a deadline.