After life questions about location, current career path and how to manage the post-college shock are answered, Britney Spears' 2001 "not a girl, not yet a woman" lyrics can still ring eerily true in the late phases of a quarterlife crisis.
One of the unknowns swirling through the heads of those in their mid-20s who—if circumstances allow—face the question of their existence is: will my hemming and hawing disappear when I meet someone? Which begs the next question: does this make me misguided or, worse, pathetic? In looking to define oneself as a firmly affixed adult, far away from the free-flowing tenets that defined many college and post-college lives, a relationship can often seem like a quick fix or even like a natural one.
"Socially Stuck," a 27-year-old guy voiced this particular conundrum in a question posed to Salon's "Since You Asked..." advice column. A year out of a seven-year relationship, he looked around at the frat boy antics of his roommates and realized video games and "empty flirtation with Barbie at the trendy nightspots," were not only uninteresting, he craved otherwise.
Bike riding, playing the piano and enjoying occasional happy hours with co-workers seemingly capable of discussing the world outside of beer and babes satisfied only part of Socially Stuck's desire for intellectual and cultural stimulation. His mother suggested he join a discussion group at a bookstore. Confused, he turned to Salon for advice:
Should I turn back toward the home crowd? Should I look for a new job or go back to school? Should I try falling in with the seemingly hip clientele at a certain local bar, and if so, how would I go about politely ditching the housemates on those nights? Or is it just time to give up, find a girl online or something, and settle?
And there it is. Among the questions of whether to find a new job, get a higher degree, change social habits or take up a new hobby is the question: should I settle? What that really means is, will settling down erase my desire for something more interesting to occupy my time?
Salon's columnist, Cary Tennis, pointed out that this is really about having "bigger dreams" and suggested SS look into graduate school. What he didn't address is that even if the 27-year-old not-boy-not-yet-man did "settle" with an online lady, those late-quarterlife-crisis urges would probably still be there waiting to be explored, right? And if not now, isn't there the risk they'll lie dormant only to emerge again in a notoriously cliché sports-car-at-mid-life form?
What do you singles and marrieds think? Help your fellow quarterlifers out and sound in below.