I was telling my friend about my upcoming birthday woes and he decided that “quarter-life crisis” was an insufficiently classy phrase, so he suggested the term “crescent life crisis.” At the time, I thought it quite lame (sorry, Fer!), but now it has deeply grown on me.
1. the curved sickle shape of the waxing or waning moon.
• a representation of such a shape used as an emblem of Islam or of Turkey.
2. a thing that has the shape of a single curve, esp. one that is broad in the center and tapers to a point at each end
1. having the shape of a crescent: a crescent moon.
2. literary growing, increasing, or developing.
For purposes of this post, I will focus on “crescent” as an adjective meaning “literary growing, increasing or developing”— but first, the crisis portion.
Birthdays are usually exciting times. Until you hit 21. Then the milestones—such as getting a driver’s license, being a legal adult, being able to enter dance clubs, reaching the legal drinking age, etc.—seize to exist and you simply start getting older. Sure, there are milestones—but these are much less defined and significantly less exciting (i.e: my first wrinkle, my first marriage, my first gray hair). This is at the root of my dramatic word choice: “crisis.”
I am only going to be 25. I am not terribly concerned about looking physically old yet, but thanks to the
blessing necessary-evil that is Facebook, I can easily—and most often, unintentionally—compare my life to my friends and sometimes, it does scare me.
Things that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed that freak me out:
Person A is going to grad school. Person B has graduated with a Master’s degree. Person C has graduated from law school. Person D started an awesome new job. In a relationship In a relationship for 2 years In a relationship for more than 5 years Engaged Engaged Engaged Engaged Married Married Friend-I-am-so-very-happy-for has had a baby.
I get it, Facebook. You are like the real-life board game of Life and instead of playing, I’ve gone to Indonesia for two years of self-imposed isolation, trekking through small rural towns, “saving the world” and being the Perfect Peace Corps Volunteer. (Not really, but let’s pretend, because that’s a whole other drama.)
The reality is that I am here for two years, committed to teaching in Indonesia (in Facebook speak, I am in a relationship with Indonesia), which is exactly where I wanted to be and I am happy with my decision. Regardless, in the quiet moments of a Friday night, I do find myself fantasizing about what my life would be like elsewhere and the kinds of things I would be doing.
I’ll be real. What I was primarily fantasizing about was dancing and going out—reminiscing my New Orleans lifestyle—and I was thinking to myself: Will I miss the best years of my (young) life and the good old days where I could do random fun things and enjoy being young? (Shallow, I know.)
But now I am wondering: Will I miss out on some big life-changing milestone by being (mostly) stranded in a small town in Indonesia?
I too could be in grad school. I could be establishing a career. The last thing on my mind is getting married or having children, but I’d be lying if I said that the thought didn’t momentarily cross my mind. Particularly when I am often asked if I’m married and why not? by the many Indonesians who consider 25 an appropriate age for a mid-life crisis. Facebook-peer-pressure doesn’t help either.
I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I am giving up two years of my mid-20s for this experience. Two years that I will never get back. Never. Am I ok with that? Most of the time I am. Sometimes I’m not. My priority is this. I want to teach in Indonesia. I am 100% committed, but when one prioritizes something over another, the other things, people, activities one cares about don’t cease to exist.
So that’s it. That’s my “crisis,” or more appropriately, my “dilemma.”
There’s no real resolution to this feeling and I suppose, everyone goes through this to some degree at various points throughout the course of their lives. In this period of my life, it is particularly pronounced because I have chosen between very distinct roads, and on this road—I have no freaking idea where I’m going.
Yet, I suspect that the “growing, increasing or developing” aspect of this crescent period—which I will attempt to document on here—will overshadow all of my previous, dramatic ranting.
I tend to think of it this way: you know all those people you met before you left for Indonesia that would say some version “Man I wish I could do what you’re going to do, but I have a family/job/debt/pet goat/community softball league/whatever now”? All those on Facebook who are busy becoming real effin’ adults will become those people.
You will not.
You are totally right. Thanks for comforting my “crisis,” John!
No problemo. We have enough on our plates here (figuratively, of course, it is Ramadan after all) that we shouldn’t need to fret about this stuff. We’ll leave Neverland eventually and have to be grown-ups, but right now we’re just gathering material so that when we actually do grow up, we’ll be the hella cool ones.
I feel ya. I’ve been having the same thoughts, especially because it’s wedding season back home and a bunch of my friends got engaged this week. But like John said, we get to have a really cool experience that other people only dream about…because they’re busy gettin’ all settled down and stuff. But for all those moments when it still feels like a crisis…I totally get it!!
I get what you are saying too. All my friends are having babies now if they haven’t already (most are already married), and at 32 I am hitting the snooze button by being here (happily)! But to so many people back home doing what we are doing is seen as freedom and youth and living it up before really settling down. I think you are doing exactly what you should be doing in your mid-20’s–and I bet there’ll be some dancing here too ;-)–Amy
Thanks for your comment, Amy. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one thinking these things. Can’t wait for the dancing!
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Sometimes my crisis is called “don’t move a finger for other people”. The time, the way of doing it, work, family, friends…everything it’s first than others.So I don’t feel you are missing anything..I feel I am missing what you are doing. MUAK!