Max, 24- 04/01/2012
North Carolina born, Georgia raised.
Q. What is your latest main quarter life crisis and how are you dealing with it?
A. My latest QLC has actually passed…and thank God for that….I would best describe the aforementioned crisis as my suspension from College. My academic dishonesty while at the college has forever changed my life. It was quite the process..going through the suspension…and it took more than two years to say that I moved past it. I am still working on a daily basis to do things different than I did in the past.
Q. What is something, or some things in your life you have recently figured out or have straightened out? How did you do that and how does it feel now?
A. What I learned most from this experience is that I had not truly opened my eyes. I was blinded to so many senses, experiences, opportunities, and chances. Having virtually everything stripped from you forces you to really reevaluate a lot of things in life. It taught me to truly find my passion for learning, and that passion for learning has been what fuels my success to this day. I learned how to focus my energy and ability in a positive direction. It also taught me to look at myself. So many times in life we create a false identity. And this false identity was what I lived for the majority of my time at my first college. Had it not been for my suspension and release from the college, I would be an iota of the person I am today. I feel empowered now. Focused and driven.
Q. Are you finishing school now? If so, how does it feel to be so late in the game and “behind”? How do you deal with those emotions? What’s most important?
A. I am finishing school now in GA. Im an upperclassman so I have found that I balanced the transition well. The transition before getting accepted was the most difficult part of my QLC because there was that undeniable amount of uncertainty that prevailed. Once I got accepted, I found that my approach to academia had changed. It had changed because my life had changed. I had taken more than two years off, so when I was finally back in school I attacked it head on. Going through my QLC made me a better student and a better person. Im more focused, more driven, and above all I am more tranquil. I am at peace with myself. In terms of emotion there was minimal because I was so focused on doing my best. For me, happiness is most important. I study a field Im passionate about. Im happy with the changes in my life because they made me a better person. If I could share anything with anyone it would be to do what is best for you. No two individuals are the same; do what works best for you above all.
Q. How have you learned to forgive yourself for the mistake you made in your past?
A. The reconciliation process was not easy. Reconciliation, for me, involved a lot of self-evaluation. I had to stop blaming others and start to analyze my character and my actions, and through this I learned that I was my own demise. I had brought on all the hardships I faced. Once I recognized that the only thing I can do is improve upon my mistakes, I really started to decide to change my life. And being on Deans List now makes that mistake a little less significant.
Q. Can you predict your next QLC?
A. I can’t predict my next QLC, and I dont think its our job to do so. What is most beneficial in dealing with such a change in your life is knowing how to be confident in yourself. QLC’s can feel overwhelmingly lonely. It is best to have a strong sense of self and the ability to pick yourself up after you fall. Ive learned from my mistakes so I hope that I can continue to do the same when faced with another extremity.
Melissa, 24 – 02/18/2012
Currently, she is living in Hawaii with her husband and three year old son.
Q. You told me that your husband and you were separated. Can you tell me more about that?
A. My husband and I started dating November 7th of 2006, we got engaged February 14th, 2007, and married March 4th 2008. I reached the point of giving up because of concern of infidelity. It honestly took the period of separation for me to realize that I did want to still be married. I am a firm believer in NOT just saying together for your child(ren). It was during his deployment to Iraq, we decided to work through things.
Q. Can you explain to me how you a) made the decision to keep trying and b) how it affected you to have to move your whole life to Hawaii for him.
A. The decision to want to continue trying didn’t happen until about 6 months or so after we had separated. We both started to date again. (I hate dating) Little things started to remind me about him. Songs he liked, movies would come on tv that we had gone to see together, things we had done together. I realized that I still loved him. I had to figure out what that love was though. Was it the love I would always have for him as the father of my son? Or was I still in love with him? In May of 2010, my lease in my apartment was up. By this time my husband told me that he wanted our marriage to work and he was willing to do anything to show me that, so I lived with his mom for 5 months in Delaware with our son. We talked everyday (3-4 times a day) via skype, email, phone… We each wrote out a list of things that we needed to address and one by one checked them off the list. We rediscovered each other and the love we thought was lost forever.
Q. How are things with your husband now that you are living together in Hawaii after having not lived together for so long?
A. I have now lived in Hawaii with him since October after not living with each other for over 2 years! The living together part has actually been easy. We have been together so long that we know what each other’s pet peeves are and what makes us tick. There are definitely moments when we argue over stupid things, (what couple doesn’t?) but after a little space we always come back together and work it out. We have been through too much not to always try. When you don’t care anymore, you aren’t going to want to continue to try.
Q. How long have you been married and how old is your son? How has being married and having a child both individually (one without the other) and then separately (being a family) affected your life as a 24 year old. Are there things you feel like you’ve had to give up? Explain as much and as in much detail as you would like.
A. We will be married 4 years March 4, 2012. Our son is 4 (January 10). After my husband and I got engaged we found out we were expecting soon after. We put the wedding on hold to get ready for our son to arrive. The separation has without a doubt grown and matured me as a person. I’m 24, yes but I definitely feel that I have experienced much more than most my age (in this sense). I don’t look at things like I gave anything up. Sure, with me being in Hawaii I am away from family and friends (and it’s hard) but i’m only a few plane rides away. My husband and son are my family. The family we created. I will finish school to be a nurse at one point. I put it on hold through our separation. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to mentally/emotionally handle it. The dream is not gone, just took a break for a little while :)
Steven, 24 – 11/20/2011
Currently, he is in his third year of law school, looking for a job and preparing to take the bar exam next summer.
Q. Can you give me a summary of how you grew up?
A. I was born in a (very) small town called Richlands, Virginia. I spent a little more than one year of my existence there and have no memory of it whatsoever. By the time I swam into a state of active consciousness, I was in Fletcher, another small town, albeit one on the outer rim of a mid-size city – Asheville, North Carolina. I lived in a suburban neighborhood, which had a semi-rural flavoring (e.g. my backyard ended at a barbed wire fence, and beyond that lay a vast pasture and a pine forest occupied by passive horses and sullen cows). I spent slightly more than a decade in Fletcher, about seven years in Chattanooga, Tennessee, roughly three years in Yorktown, Virginia, and somewhat less than that in Buffalo, New York. The vast majority of my early life experience was that of a consummate suburbanista – television, car travel, and “Hey, you wanna go to the mall?”
My family is deliciously mixed. My dad is originally from the Philippines and practices medicine, but I was never pressured to follow him into the medical profession. My mom is from a big Irish-Catholic family in Buffalo, NY. She served for a time as a registered nurse and taught me to read and appreciate literature. I have one sibling, a sister two years younger than myself.
Q. Define “Quarter Life Crisis” in your own words.
A. That awful, unsettled, in-between period, where you’re trying to get yourself started in your chosen profession and wondering if you’ve made the right choice and if you’ll make it. For me it began during the senior year of college, when you’re forced to start thinking about what comes next. The three year duration of law school is not exactly a reprieve, because the whole time you think about how everything that happens on a day-to-day basis is going to impact you, not just in the context of school but in the context of getting a job and making a good start in the world beyond.
Q. Since you are part of the “settled” category, have you suffered through a quarter life crisis? If so, what were you struggling with at the time(s)?
A. A key part of the quarter life crisis is that it doesn’t divide itself into neat little episodes of particular duration. It’s a continuing phenomenon that goes through fluctuations. For me it was more intense during the first year of law school because I had to acclimate myself to a different method of learning, a different city, a different climate, etc. Getting used to the process of legal education is a nasty business. At this point, I’ve been “in it” for two and a half years, so one builds up a kind of tolerance for it, and having had some success academically and in the real world context (via a summer internship), I get the feeling of “this is feasible.” I feel more settled now mainly because the third year of law school is kinder and gentler than the previous two. The reading assignments aren’t as bad, many of my classes have gotten out early, and the professors take a more den-mother-like attitude toward us, as if in tacit apology for the sweat and drudgery that led to this point.
There are few things more depressing than having to read the (sometimes poorly edited) appellate opinions that fill many a law school casebook. It’s a curious sensation where, three sentences into a paragraph, you feel your attention roll off the page like a marble, and very much doubt your ability to read and comprehend information. And you sit around and wonder if this is truly the rest of your life, and will you be doing this for the next forty years, and did you really make the right choice in pulling the trigger on this decision of going to law school. It’s all the questions like this, the uncertainty twisting in your soul in quiet moments.
Q. What helped you overcome your crisis? When did you know that you were finally finding a path/feeling crisis free?
A. Some things I recommend for dealing with this are very basic. Just going for a walk or talking to people similarly situated helps a great deal. If you can dissipate the stress at that point, you can prevent it from building up and cascading into despair.
Also, I have found the genre of biography to be enormously comforting, something apparent not only at the quarter life stage but throughout my life. On the one hand, it’s just nice having something to read that gets one’s mind off the casebooks at the end of the day. On the other hand, it’s hugely reassuring to read about eminent worthies who have gone through the same sort of quarter life crisis and managed to pull through and drive toward the heights. Right now, I’m reading a biography of Samuel Johnson, perhaps the most eminent man of letters of the 18th century, who compiled a dictionary that remained authoritative for 150 years. His quarter life crisis lasted so long it practically turned into a mid-life crisis! He spent more than a decade in and out of schools, bouncing around, trying to make it as a playwright, poet, and journalist. Reading this, you get a seesawing sensation…Going to Oxford, heading home within months. Going to Birmingham, coming back without fanfare. Trying out London, trying again. In the end, he survived and went on to literary renown. Knowing what’s possible in terms of coming back from a tough spot is deeply comforting.
Q. What is something in your life that feels safe or in place right now? What is something that seems to be giving you a hard time?
A. I am in very good health at the moment. Meanwhile, the job-searching process generates mountains of uncertainty, and of course the bar exam looms darkly on the horizon.
Q. What are a few key lessons you have learned along the way to becoming more “settled” with your life, that you would deem helpful to those currently suffering through a quarter life crisis?
A. I think the key lessons are perhaps the most obvious ones. That it’s not just you, that others are going through this process as well, and that a lot of people have been through this same period of turmoil and turned out all right in the end. I would reiterate what I said in one of my previous responses about keeping in touch with others similarly situated and seeking biographical encouragement where necessary.
The experience is highly individualized. To put it in biological terms, I would say that the quarter life crisis is the genus and there exist many species of it. I have the “professional school quarter life crisis,” so what works for me may not have the same effect for others facing different circumstances. In any event, I think people should find things to which they can commit themselves, things that give them hope rather than despair.
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