Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Are You Having a Quarter-Life Crisis?

This is a post written by Chris, a close friend and member of my tribe, so-to-speak:

Thanks to Becca for allowing me some “soap-box” time here on her blog.

A few weeks ago, I was intrigued by a book that sat in her office entitled Quarterlife Crisis authored by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner, both of Washington, DC. At the time, I thought I too could be having a quarter-life crisis. I had just lost a job, was about to start another one…and, oh yeah, I’m about to become a father. Yeah, I reasoned, I could be having a quarterlife crisis. As I read through the short book, I realized many of the crises addressed where familiar to me. They included finding a job, finding a career, finding a soul-mate, and balancing work and social life among others.

A Quick Book Review

Despite my status as a “twenty-something” and my keen understanding of some of the crises faced by those interviewed for the book, I began to have some misgivings about what I was reading. Several things occurred to me and other things disturbed me. See what you think and post a comment or two.

  • There are countless crises in each person’s life. What’s so special or different about the twenty-something crisis? Do any of us remember the “college crisis” when we had to pick “the right” school or lives would be over? What about those of us whose parents have divorced? Was that not a crisis in our lives? Maybe the quarterlife crisis is different because it’s the first real crisis after we get out of school. But that supposes that all change leads to crisis and I’m not ready to admit that. Nevertheless, the authors and those they’ve interviewed seem to place more emphasis on this crisis because so many parts of our lives converge at one time. I think I can buy that, but I also think calling it a crisis is more than a little alarmist.
  • My overwhelming feeling throughout the book was that many of these twenty-somethings were busy whining instead of doing. Based on their comments, the interviewees seem much too self-absorbed in their worries and woes, and therefore they forget about others who may be feeling the same or worse. Their self-absorption made them believe that they were on their own – that they were the only ones feeling the way they did. Someone could make the case that self-absorption is endemic to our American culture, but it’s possible that twenty-somethings the world over feel that way. I’ll leave that point to my friends who have traveled the world a bit more than I.
  • What I wanted to yell as I read this book is: “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!” The world is a big place with lots of people doing lots of things. Sometimes if you just get up the nerve to do something—anything—it can make all the difference in the world. How many times have you done something you didn’t think you liked and found out that, in fact, you did like it. These twenty-somethings seemed so paralyzed by what they were afraid to do that some of them wound up doing nothing.

The authors admit in their epilogue that their critics are likely saying “Stop WHINING!” I laughed when I read that because I definitely felt that way. As my father used to say, “Life’s not fair so deal with it.” His statement wasn’t optimistic or pessimistic; it was realistic.

What about Young Adult Ministry?

So how does this all tie into young adult ministry? It’s a good question. The obvious answer is that Quarterlife Crisis can give its readers a peek into the mind of the young adult. The knowledge gained can be used to develop programs that would appeal to young adults. For instance, the authors make the point that twenty-somethings—for whatever reason—don’t discuss their worries or common struggles with each other. A young adult program at a church where individuals can discuss their common struggles related to jobs, relationships, families and other topics may have practical application in their lives.

Exactly how to do that is the challenge. Most twenty-somethings feel that they can’t even tell their close friends about such things, and going to a young adult program that addresses such things may smell more of therapy than of fellowship. Still, it’s worth trying.

One Last Personal Note

I’ve been attending church pretty regularly since I was in high-school. In high-school it was a social event for me, a place to meet new and exciting people. In college it formed (i) a basis for my faith, (ii) several long-lasting friendships and (iii) a deeper recognition of my strengths and weaknesses. After college it became a home for me—a place I could go and feel at home.

Through it all though, attending services, praying and listening to others helped me remember that I wasn’t alone and it helped me understand that I wasn’t the center of the universe (occasionally it still helps dispel that myth).

I welcome your comments, arguments and any other constructive criticism.


Anonymous said...

I somewhat have a testimony on this myself, being I have thought the same things. How it pertains to me, however, to what you are saying is each time I feel that way, I look at what my father has told and taught me, and knowing that he went through similar trials in his life makes me realize that I was not alone. Also, seeing other friends go through them also has been able to let me help them through those times as well. Keep up the faith, and teach others to have faith!

Mr. Drew said...

I enjoyed reading this post even though I am close enough in age for a mid-life crisis .I still remember how I felt in my twenties (and in some respects, still feel today).

Even though some of what you read sounded like whining, it is important to:
* recognize that having time to be introspective about your troubles is a luxury not to be wasted. There are so many in this world who worry about where they will sleep and what they will eat.
*knowing that you are not alone sometimes is the only way to allow yourself to be loved and accepted as you are
* I was at a Youth Ministry event recently with mostly 8th graders who, for the first time, began to recognize that they are not the center of the universe. Although a lot of tears, honesty, and trust was required, this kind of sharing would not have happened had they not felt safe, been in relationship, and were willing to share with others. They are beginning to discover that they are not alone. I will probably blog some more about this in the future.