The Mid Youth Crisis

So it is no secret that we youngsters have got it tough at the moment; no jobs, no money, loads of debt and degrees that don’t really mean anything. I am 23, I have £25,000 worth of debt and I have a first class degree in drama. I graduated university two years ago believing I can take over the world and then got railroaded by the reality of bills and the 9-5. This fruitful combination has catapulted me well and truly eyeball deep in to the MID-YOUTH CRISIS (MYC).

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My definition of the MYC is: An ambitious person in their early twenties who experiences feelings of panic and frustration because there is less time to complete their bucket list.

Just to make myself clear: I do not think 23 is old. I do not think 35 is old but I am looking at the reality of life and my own concerns of hitting adulthood and ensuring that I make the most of each stage of life. This is an exploration, be open minded…

The MYC

The complexity of the MYC begins when you start to compare two sets of things;

  1. Your life now to where you want to be.
  2. Your successes to those around you.

It is restrictions of everyday life that make the ambition of wanting both a very successful career and a happy family difficult to manage. Some may criticize my thoughts to be naive and greedy but I am aiming high and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. This is not to undermine others life choices or the difficulties people face in life. This is to explore the natural transition in people’s lives when they get to their early twenties, how their expectations of themselves and their expectations of life begin to change.

What are the symptoms?

  1. Feeling irritable and impatient
  2. Never feeling satisfied
  3. Compulsive planning
  4. Not staying in a job for more than 6 months
  5. Feeling of jealousy of those who have little career ambition and are satisfied with their lives

Cause and Effect

Time limit is the biggest cause of the MYC. I’ve found my mantra; “It is easy to know what you’re not good at, but difficult to know what you are good at”. Understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are is a vital tool to a successful career and the decision process that gets you there. The pressure put on people to decide what it is they want to do starts from an early age when you are picking your GCSE’s. This constant pressure starts to build up and when you hit your early twenties and you still don’t know what to do with your life there is a moment of panic when all you can think is “time running out.”

Work Hard, Play Hard

There are obvious rules to follow when seeking a successful career and making the most of life; dedication, research, work ethic etc but I genuinely believe that if you grab every experience offered to you then there is very little you can begrudge later in life. I believe that if you take the best from every experience then you will only grow and your life will be enriched. This sounds easy but along with opportunity comes restriction and it is the restrictions that provoke the MYC. Here are the main culprits:

1.       The Baby Complex

Many women today dream of a fabulous career but would also one day like a family. The only problem is our eggs have sell-by date, a very inflexible one at that. I would like to begin thinking about having children when I am 30. This gives me seven years to complete my very lengthy baby bucket list. The reality for women is that it isn’t yet easy to have both a family and a career and I don’t think that will change drastically in seven years. The fact that there is a biological clock ticking away adds to the pressure that young women have on them to make decisions about life.

2.       State of the UK

Gone are the days where degrees were valuable, people got large pay rises and speedy promotions. I can’t help but resent the generation before me where it seemed things were more possible and accessible. I am also aware that I have a romanticized idea of “the good old days” but there are proven restrictions for the younger generations now, such as a lack of jobs and no chance of getting on the property ladder. Reaching your career goal is tougher and providing for your family is harder.

3.       Money Bags

Financial pressure is also a big player in the MYC. With expensive food and extortionate rent the future seems bleak. Internships are a popular route in the competitive world. They get you meeting the correct people, the chance to learn new skills and helps you decide if it is the career you want to pursue.  The only problem is, working for free comes at a price and if you cannot afford to support yourself to work for free then your options are limited. The working world is getting so competitive that in some extreme cases people are paying to be given an internship: Getting your foot in the door has a price. This would mean that those with money are more likely to get opportunities to lead a successful career. It doesn’t mean those with money won’t get the opportunities…it is just a little bit harder for the rest of us. This reality can contribute to the MYC because it seems so unfair (“LIFE IS UNFAIR”) especially if you are aware of time and you feel youth is running out. 

My Advice on surviving the MYC:

I have suffered restlessly from the MYC and I have found a few ways of keeping it under control.

  • Live like a yes man – make the most of ever experience so that when you look back in life you won’t regret not doing something.
  • Create your own luck – be open minded and take all opportunities…it will only end positively.
  • Be prepared to work hard.
  • Never under estimate the power of people skills. If people like you, life is easier.
  • Take positives from every experience
  • Take chances – high risk, high gain
  • Believe in yourself

This exploration will ever apply fully to everyone but I do believe that in your early twenties in the developed world there is a shift in thoughts and values. Sometimes I believe that this change leads to self-conflict when you have a thirst for life but more of an awareness of reality than ever before. It is how you deal with it that defines you though although there will be no impulsive purchasing of sports cars…

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4 thoughts on “The Mid Youth Crisis

  1. sjbunx says:

    Izzy, I have been having this EXACT conversation with several like minded friends and peers over the past 8 to 10 months. I am nearly 23 years old, about to undertake my final year at university. I therefore need to concentrate more then ever, to come out with that all important 1st, although also need to work on my extra curricular activites in order to make me more employable after graduation.

    I am anxious to get started on my career and can not wait to get this final year of study out the way. Just like you, children and a family are high on my importance list. 7 years ago I left school, 7 years from now I will be 30! I feel like I am in a big middle ground with opportunities coming out of my ears one side and economic failure on the other. How do they ever expect us to be able to purchase our own home?

    Thankfully I am already doing all the things you advise to help with the MYC. I am currently studying abroad in New Zealand which is a fantastic once in a lifetime experience. However, I seem to spend a lot of my time anxious to get home to start building my career contacts and future life. Everything I do is all for my degree yet I still feel like it isn’t enough. I think the simple answer (if there is one) is that I absolutely love my job and can not wait to get out there and do it however the daunting possibility that a job might not be that easy to come by is ever looming over my head.

    • Izzy Maxwell Watts says:

      Hey sjbunx. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and touching message in response to my blog. It is so good to share stories and hear how other people feel. When you write ” I feel like I am in a big middle ground with opportunities coming out of my ears one side and economic failure on the other.” I think you summarize it perfectly. I feel stuck on that middle ground and I guess I will be there until I become unbalanced and either the economic failure will succeed or I will use the opportunities of life to overcome it. I guess only time will tell..how ironic that it is time that will give me the answer when I am so afraid of running out of time!

      It sounds like your ambition and dedication will pay off, at least we can only hope and keep trying! I wish you all the very best with achieving your goals and I hope that you find satisfaction somewhere.

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