I’m not really sure why it’s called a quarter-life crisis. Really, it is a rarity for humans to make it all the way to 100 years, and calling our twenty-fifth year a quarter-life crisis is hardly realistic, although rather optimistic. But perhaps it is our escape from harsh truths or the fact that we like round and neat things, that instills within us the confidence to say that only a quarter of our lives are over at twenty-five.
In reality, it is much more likely that this “quarter-life crisis” is actually a third-life crisis. According to Wikipedia, the average life expectancy in the world is a mere 67.2 years, making this reality of impending death a bit more bleak than even the thought of twenty-five years composing one-third of our lives.
What is more puzzling to me, though, is why we call these periods of time in our lives “crises.” Yes, in this past year, there have been moments of crisis and despair, but for every moment that challenged my patience and confidence, there have been several that have inspired, taught, and shaped the adult I am becoming. Perhaps, instead of calling it a quarter-life or mid-life crisis, we should start calling it an “awakening.”
Regardless, the idea of Year 25 being a quarter of your life–awakening, crisis, or otherwise–goes against all logic, and it might be better for us if we saw a third of our lives being over at 25. Maybe we’d waste less time and energy.
And energy is so precious, not only in the context of the current global energy crisis in which we have found ourselves, but also in the context of our own bodies. We are constantly absorbing and expending energy in order to maintain some sort of consistency and balance. We want to resolve disorder in our own lives. But in order to resolve that disorder, it is only necessary to dissipate more energy, to consume more resources, to continuously build more connections, until eventually, our bodies give out. The energy we’ve so preciously tried to manage and control reaches a state of equilibrium, synonymous with death.
And so now, here I am, 24 and 11/12, in a crisis, an awakening, or maybe just another year of my life. Maybe I haven’t even begun to comprehend what the words “crisis” or “awakening” truly mean. Regardless, I’m pondering the energy I have consumed, expensed, and dissipated thus far in my life and what I hope to do with the remaining. By dissipating more energy, I will, without a doubt, be contributing to the greater entropy of my inner being and to that of the greater world. I will become more complex, develop more intense systems of intrapersonal communication, until one day, my body will no longer be able to sustain this complexity and reach the aforementioned point of equilibrium.
So, in the meantime, I want to be sure that the inevitable entropic destruction to which my life will meet its end is purposeful. I want to be sure that the energy I am dissipating, at the expense of my own body and the world around me, is energy dissipated without vain–that my entropic expenditures are at least equal to the contributions I can make to the world.
I’ll call this my third-life crisis, even though it’s not as scary as the word “crisis” makes it sound. We are all in a constant state of crisis, whether it’s mid-life, quarter-life, adolescent, or otherwise. We are all trying to make sense of our lives and find our purpose. It’s the struggle that unites us, essentially, finding the meaning of our lives or just the meaning of life, in general. Welcome to my struggle, my crisis, my “awakening”–one of empathy, passion, despair, inspiration, education, and most importantly, one of impending clarity.