I saw the play Tiger Style! last night. The story is about two seemingly successful 20-something Harvard grads who are actually falling apart inside. As a doctor and a computer programmer, they both have achieved success in their parents’ and society’s eyes, but they are in crisis because they don’t know who they are.
They blame their parents for promising them success and assuming happiness came along with it if they dedicated their lives to achievement. But when they are finally in these high-status, well-paid jobs, they realize they never stopped to figure out if this is what they wanted along the way. Indeed, these empty careers mean nothing to them.
Who am I? Where does love fit in? Where’s the fun? What’s this all for? These are the questions of the “quarter life crisis.”
The quarter life crisis is a newly coined phenomenon, an accelerated form of the midlife crisis. Why is it happening? Why are so many 25-year-olds having identity crises that there’s a new name for it? Because this generation of kids was never allowed to explore their identities during adolescence. Instead, they were directed (and often pushed) into the singular path of going to the best college they could get into.
The fallacy of the college dream is that it assumes this path leads to happiness and success in life. Sadly, it’s taken a generation of 20-somethings in crisis to show us the error in our thinking.
College is one path to success and happiness in life. It is not the path. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to success and happiness in life. Each person has to figure it out along the way.
Probably one of the biggest disappointments in life is when your child wants to do something different from what you want them to do. Face it: there is a good chance that will happen to you, no matter how much your force your dreams down their throat. They are their own people and they have to figure it out for themselves.