I watched the movie St. Elmo’s Fire the other day for the first time in years and about an hour into it, I started bawling uncontrollably. If you’re not familiar with the film, St. Elmo’s Fire is about a group of recently graduated friends who are all still trying to figure out their place in life. Which is exactly where I am – still feeling my way through this seemingly endless abyss they call adulthood. This is exactly where every post-grad is. Between trying to make money to start paying bills, searching for a job, wanting to move out, trying to make new friends, trying to keep the ones you had while you were at college, looking for love, trying to hold on to that last bit of adolescence, just hoping that something – anything – you do is going to matter and still trying to remain sane through all of it, something’s gotta give.
No one prepared us for this. How could they? I mean, granted, our parents and teachers never expected us to get thrown into this s**t-storm of an economy (pardon my French), but they had to know that some of this was coming. I mean they even have a name for it! So, then, why did no one prepare us for the Quarter-Life Crisis? Why didn’t any of our professors or our parents sit us down and say “Hey, I know you’re graduating college soon and I just want to warn you: things are going to be different. You might not have a job right out of the gate and you might not even have one at all for a while, so start budgeting your money now and make a plan of how you plan to bide your time in between. You’ll also notice that you’re probably going to start questioning everything that you’ve built up over the last 4 years. This is normal.” Why didn’t they give us an exit strategy?
I’ve done a lot of thinking about this over the past few months, have read a few similar stories on this very website, and have gone to numerous friends about it. Every single answer I’ve gotten has been along the lines of “You’re not alone.” Sure, hearing it from some of my older friends who have already been here/done that was comforting, but it wasn’t until Rob Lowe was comforting Demi Moore on the floor of her apartment after she had just hit rock bottom, telling her “We’re all going through this. It’s our time at the edge,” that it really started to set in (sorry, friends!) It’s one thing to know that you’re not alone in going through this, but it’s an entirely other thing to know that you’re supposed to go through this.
This is our time at the edge. It’s our time to be nervous, scared, reckless, careless, foolish; to discover ourselves in a whole new way. It’s okay to make mistakes right now. It’s okay to fail and it’s okay to be scared. We don’t have a safety net to fall back on anymore, but we’re not up high enough yet where it’ll kill us if we do fall. If you’re afraid of the future, don’t be. If you don’t feel like your hard work is paying off yet, you’re right. It’s probably not going to right away. This is normal. If you’re not even sure of what you want to do with your life anymore, then you’re right on schedule. Now is the time to figure all of this out. Now is the time to try new things, have new adventures, make new friends, and see what sticks. I know it’s terrifying and exciting, and depressing all at the same time, but, as my friend and fellow HelloGiggles writer Meghan O’Keefe told me when I was going through one of my Quarter-Life-Crisis meltdowns, “Just know that what you’re going through is normal.“
And don’t be afraid of life on the edge.
*Photo via FanPop