Quarter Life Crisis

I’m hoping today’s post will be therapeutic, not so much for your benefit, but for mine (I know, I’m selfish). I went on a walk with Girl Ninja the other day, and we took a pit stop at Subway for some dinner. All three of the Subway employees appeared to be about my age. I walked out slightly jealous that I didn’t work at Subway with them.

I have a pretty awesome job, but sometimes I wish my job was kinda lame. Deep down inside I dream of working at Starbucks, McDonalds, or Costco. Why? Because they are all part time jobs, with pretty flexible hours.

I thought it was an unwritten law: After college you must bum off mom and dad for a couple years, work a part time job, spend your free time hanging out with friends and backpack Europe. After three years in the workforce, I’m feeling like McDonalds wouldn’t be so bad. Not because I hate my job, but I would love the freedom to have a completely fluid work schedule.

I know, I shouldn’t be whining like a little school girl right now. There are a ton of college graduates out there that would love to do what I do. Heck, I love doing what I do, but sometimes I’m a little envious of the part-time lifestyle. I was blessed to get the job I did, and know it’s going to pay off huge in the long run, but the kid-ninja inside of me just wants to rap to Ludacris and play some video games, maybe even watch a little Spongebob.

Am I the only one suffering from a minor quarter-life crisis? Anyone else experience a little “Holy crap, I’m kind of an adult” moment? Will my passion to be part-time slowly fade? Or am I doomed to envy those that live on their parents couch forever?

35 thoughts on “Quarter Life Crisis”

  1. I feel that way all of the time. Not only was the flexibility great but I actually had fun at work. Working in a pizza place on a Friday night friends was great. Need to switch a shift? No problem! Go into work hung over…easy! Free pizza? Sure!

    If hungry howies paid what a chemist makes, id be all over it!

  2. I think all of us have momentary lapses in adulthood! So snap out of it. There are times I am act closer to the ages of my (high school) students than others and I am 64 years old. This can work for me! If your lapse is do to unhappiness with the 9-5 aspect of your job, then it requires more thought. Like most of those kind of thoughts, see if it passes. Send me $150 for the consultation.

  3. Are you willing to give up practically ALL of your financial goals and current effort? I mean, what nugget-fryer has 60K in savings and retirement?? 😉 It’s all about compromise, my friend. There comes a time when we have to realize that if we’re gonna grow into the man God has called us to be, we gotta get on up outta Mom and Dad’s, get a real job and provide for a family of our own (be it just Girl Ninja or potential Baby Ninjas). Don’t get down, brotha! It takes a lot of work but it is so very worth it.


  4. I feel this way sometimes. My job is pretty stressful (although how stressful can it be when I read this blog every day). I have long term projects that worry me at night, corporate contacts breathing down my neck, and every mistake gets turned into a huge ordeal. I’m entry level in experience but I have the responsibility of a senior manager which is an incredible opportunity, but it’s also incredibly stressful. I really miss my college days, working part time at Starbucks to pay the rent and eating California burritos as the dish du jour. But I’ve done alright these past 7 months, paid off all my student loans, maxed my IRA for 2010 and on track for 2011, and have a sizable emergency fund. Sometimes though, I wish I could just make lattes again and have some human interaction during the day that doesn’t involve office politics.

  5. I don’t think it’s as much about the total number of hours as it is about the autonomy. When I was in school, i worked even more than I do now at a full time job. School was competitive and I studied pretty much 9 hours a day, 7 days a week. Back then all I could think about was “gosh I wish I could graduate, so I can get a job that’s mostly nine-to-five, and I can have free weekends and all this $ to spend”. Now that I have graduated and obtained a full time job, I realize that it’s not that simple. although I work mostly 9 to 6:30-7, and have my weekends to myself, I find that it’s not so much the hours, but the fact that during those hours, someone else dictates how I spend my time. When I was in school I could not attend lectures and slack off whenever wanted, as long as I made up for the time later. But this is no longer a possibility when I am working my way the ladder. That being said, I’d rather be where I am now. Being in your 20s and have the funds of a teenager sucked big time!

    • I 100% agree with Kim! Autonomy…that is what I miss. And fortunately I have a lot of it within my position, but I’m stuck within a set schedule.

  6. As a twenty-something fresh graduate, I feel the same way sometimes ninja. I sometimes dream that after I’ve made my fortune and retired, I can go work at starbucks part time for some spending money. Is that wierd? Every time I go to starbucks, I get a little jealous that I can’t stay any longer than it takes to make my drink. Then again, I would never want to be solely reliant on that money for my income. So, I remain, just like you, a worker bee in the 9 to 5, because ultimately that’s where I want to be right now. Even if I dream of someday being a barista for fun.

  7. It happens to me from time to time too. I wish that I could have at least had one summer off to lounge around and do nothing, but instead I started my internship that first year of college. I never did the week in Florida for spring break, or the cruise to Cancun, and sometimes I think I missed out. But then I turn around and look at my finances and know that I wont have to work my entire life, and I’ll be able to really enjoy trips that I take later in life, like my Western Mediterranean Cruise I took last spring)! Had I done that when I was 21 and just barely legal to drink I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much.

    It’s all perspective. You’ll get the pangs of a “simpler life” from time to time. But one thing I do when I feel that way is I remind myself that I have no idea what that person’s life is really like. For all you know they are living in a roach infested apartment with 4 other people just trying to make ends meet. That doesn’t sound so glamorous anymore…

  8. I have a part time job while im working on my bachelor’s degree. I can tell you for a fact, we can switch lives whenever you want. Part time jobs are the worst. My hours are not flexible, they are whenever my boss feels like scheduling me, not enough hours? too bad, too many? also too bad. If i call out of a shift for something important like a test, i get written up, enough write ups and i loose my job. Not usually a big deal, except i support myself.

    I dont mean to complain, but the simpler life is far from simpler, what you give up in stress related to your full time work, you gain in drama working with people whose full time job, is your part time job.

    Honestly, it sounds like your suffering from the grass is greener syndrome.

  9. Envy the couch surfers until you realize they have no freedom. Only parents who don’t care about you wouldn’t be urging you to get an adult job, buy yourself a car instead of borrowing theirs, and leave the basement so they can remodel for retirement. 😉

  10. I totally hear you. Every once in a while I think I should just quit and work retail. And then I remember that I don’t really like dealing with people and being super-shiny-happy. lol. And I’m not beholden to a boss scheduling me. I know so many people who have had their hours cut and can’t find a second part-time job to pay their rent and bills.

  11. This is totally normal, I think. After having worked full-time for 10 years, I often feel I’d like a break from Grownupville. That said, the break I dream of isn’t in the past (would never want to go back to the struggles of my late teens and early 20s), but rather in the future. Something with a beach and lots of money in the bank. 🙂

  12. Whine away. The desire to have things easier doesn’t really go away. I have 5 kids but long for the days when it was just my wife and me. I provide reasonably for the 7 of us (single-income), but I would love to have less “financial burden.” I haven’t bought any gaming consoles because I know they would just distract me, but I wish for one all the time. Get it off your shoulders. You’re still a good man- as long as you don’t ACT on those feelings.

  13. I never get that feeling man. I’m not an arrogant person, but feel my time is much more valuable than what I would be compensated. People interaction is great, and somewhat lacking in my position, but I make up for it by striking up conversations in the break room/elevator/cafeteria/etc with people I don’t know. That’s how I even it out, plus my paycheck still has the same number of 0’s in it! Win Win.

  14. I too turn a ‘quarter of a century’ old this year. Sometimes I too wish I had the flexibility for a life of leisure – backpacking around Europe sounds right up my alley.

    I was just talking to my brother about the “holy cow I’m an adult moment” recently. He’s about to graduate college, and I wanted to reassure him that it’s normal to feel like a little kid dressing up in your parent’s shoes. Sometimes you just go through the motions of adulthood – working 9-5ish, buying a car, paying rent/bills, serious relationships – and once you do those same things often enough it begins to sink in that yes, that’s what makes us feel like “adults”.

    But what really separates us from young adults is the ability to plan long term. “Kids” think more of short-term gratification. Sure, it’s great to sleep til noon, and then go work a shift at Subway/McDonalds/Starbucks, but it only lasts as long as you’re employed. It makes it tough to save for retirement, when you’ve got all of the hard work of living out of the way, and can spend time with your kids/grandkids, and help them with things like college tuition or even just a fun vacation.

  15. I understand. I’m 52 and see my 3 college-age kids going to school and working part time and remember how great that time of my life was!! But the further away from it you get, the less appealing it becomes. (maybe – ha, ha!)

  16. I don’t know how many times I think to myself, it was so much easier when my mom and dad took care of it all. I just went to the doctors. My mom handled the in and out of network, the benefits, co-pays, etc. My mom gave me lunch money. I wish we didn’t have to grow up so fast.

    And I do understand about the part time job. I was a bank teller during the summers between college/grad school. I loved it. If I made enough doing that, I would have totally stayed there.

  17. I’m singing your tune right now, too. I wouldn’t mind all that much about having less income (and yes, even the smaller amount in savings), but what usually snaps me out of it is the lack of benefits – health insurance is expensive! No paid time off? Boo! Also, to some extent I agree with Where’s the Beef – I consider my time more valuable than $9 or $10 an hour (though if I were absolutely desperate, I’d take it over nothing).

    Gotta love the quarter life crisis.

  18. I feel this way sometimes.

    My friends are servers or bartenders, or work in animal hospitals, or are in law school, or work in after-school programs. There are a few receptionists in there as well.

    Most of them are able to stay afloat on $10-$15/hour, but they’re certainly not “progressing” if you look at the big picture financially. They do, however, make enough to pay the bills. And they get rotating or random days off. Sometimes they work 6 hour days.

    In my case, it’s the 8-5 drain. It’s the following-someone-else’s schedule. It’s the feeling-guilty-when-I-take-time-off. It’s the god-I-lose-an-hour-every-day-to-a-commute thing. It’s the where-will-I-go-next? question. It’s the it-seems-like-you’re-all-hanging-out-all-the-time.

    For me, it’s because my current Very Good Job isn’t giving me what I ultimately want out of a job, which is for it to feel less like work. 😉

    I’d encourage you to honor the feeling without dwelling on it, look for the lesson, and then move on when you’re ready.

  19. What do you mean by fluid? Some of those crappy jobs have very little flexibility. Or they have the worst of both worlds – shifts at all hours (anytime practically 24/7) and little room to request the shifts you want.

    Me, I’m not a M-F 9-5er either, and that’s what I want. Grass is always greener…

  20. I completely understand where your at, I have a steady job with good pay. However, I feel like I’m missing out on life. I also graduated in 2008 and I feel like full time employment–40 hours a week is pretty restrictive. There’s so many things that I want to do before I become “an adult.”

  21. I’ve done retail with fluid shifts and now I’m in a 9-5. Honestly? I don’t care what schedule I work as long as I dictate it. I’m tired of people telling what I can and cannot do (especially for dumb reasons, like I don’t have a degree). Freelance it is!

  22. No way do I want to go back there making minimum wage and working when everyone else was out having fun. Most of those service jobs have available hours when other people are done with work…so if you have friends that work 9-5 M-F, that’s tough because you work friday night, all day saturday and sunday.

    The thing I do miss is being able to leave a job and then pick up another one fairly easily. My mom was always pretty poor so living off of her would not be possible even if I wanted to.

    I think if we all got sabbatical type leaves, then the life of a working stiff would be a whole lot more palatable. I would love a summer off or to go cross country again but in this world, if you quit your job it could be a year or more before you find another one that’s close to the same pay, etc.

  23. I hear ya! For me, I think it’s not just about having free time, but also just not having the stress that comes with a career. If you have a kick-ass job, you have responsibilities. Sometimes I look at our admin assistants and wish I could have their job. Not that they don’t work, but they don’t have that same level of stress that comes with a higher paying job. Doing some data entry, answering phones, delivering mail – you can go about your day, get things done, and not have to worry about deadlines, angry clients, and the such. I’m sure they have their own worries, but from this side of the fence, the grass is definitely a lot greener there! Of course, I wouldn’t trade in my paycheque and I love what I do, but sometimes…

  24. I have a great 8-4:30 job that sorta fell into my lap out of college — pays quite well for entry level, and with a bit of work, could lead to a lot of opportunity in pretty much any field I could imagine.

    That being said, it’s not the part-time job aspect that I miss. Honestly……it’s the lack of a winter / spring / summer vacation. Yes, we get vacation days. But what boss allows you to take a month at a time off twice a year, as well as a week in the spring? I took summer classes every year, but even still I had a month off for doing whatever. That’s the part I miss.

  25. I definitely feel this way. I’m 23 years old, so many of my friends are bumming around Europe and South America and have been for a year or more, or they’re working part time or in “brainless” jobs and are enjoying their youth. They sleep in, share decent apartments with roomies, and hit up the pubs after their shifts and post the pictures on Facebook. They look so happy and carefree, with their IKEA living rooms that they’ve bought on credit and their Wii parties.

    Of course, I do realize that many of them are knee-deep in debt, but they seem so carefree and experience so much through traveling that I definitely pause and get all wistful.

  26. Yup, I actually had that conversation with a co-worker, where I said, wow I’m 25 so I technically can’t screw up anymore! I get wistful esp when I think of having 3 months of summer off, plus xmas break, and other random breaks we got in college. I miss that the most plus the random afternoon naps! I make it a point to go on a trip once a year so that kind of makes up….I wander somewhere around the world, mix in with backpacker. I’m not a ‘corporate america lady’. I’m just another young person with tons of energy eager to see the world, meet people, and DRAM! Still doesnt match up to the flexibility of a part-time work gig though..that would be sweet for like a month. I’m sure I’d be over it.

    On the bright side, I work 60-70 hours a week at my ‘corporate job’ and make less than you do. Plus, you get to work from home so hey, things aren’t all that bad, but yes, we do have to grow up…and I’m ok with growing up most of the time.

  27. Sounds like you need a vacation!

    Seriously, the money you are bringing in should allow you to have some more fun than you are allowing yourself to have. At your age with that income you need to splurge a bit more. Do something those minimum wage people cannot. Work hard play hard! Donate more to charity too!

    Alas, this is the reason I troll many PF blogs. Trying to find tips on achieving that elusive balance between saving and spending.

  28. Definitely feel you. I’ve just finished uni and am looking for a FT job…. loving that I finally (nearly finished, just one more thing to do) but not loving the 8 – 5 rigidness… =S double-edged sword, much? =\

    But then, I know too that the money will be (obviously) good..

  29. I’ve been telling my Mom for over 25 years it stinks to be an adult because we had a great childhood; mind you, I was a kid before PC’s, cell phones, Facebook and Twitter were common in everyday life. I was a kid when our entertainment was building couch forts while watching Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Hour, and eating Cap’t Crunch! On the weekends, we’d take off on our bikes, came home when it was lunchtime, out again until dinner, and out one last time until it was dark (or until the first Mom started yelling for their kid(s) to come in… that broke up the party 😉 )

    Mind you, there was no bumming off my folks when we weren’t enrolled in school F/T. I took a gap year between High School and College, work F/T at a record store, but had to pay room & board; if we weren’t enrolled in school F/T, we had to pay Mom… that was the rule.

    Every now and then, I think life would be so much easier if Hubby worked F/T and I worked P/T (or vice versa), but I snap out of it real quick when I realize we wouldn’t be saving nearly as much for retirement, vacations, emergency fund, etc…

  30. Well…I had a pretty crappy childhood so all I ever wanted was to grown up, make my own money, and live on my own. And I LOVE it! I would never want to go back to being younger, working crap jobs, and being dependent on others.

    I agree with the above poster who said you need to loosen up and splurge more. There’s no reason financially that you can’t take weekend trips to get out and shake things up. You work hard, you make good money, enjoy it more!

  31. Keep in mind that the people at Subway are probably thinking the same about you. They would love a higher income with the perks that come with that. I bet they would be happy to give up their free time and flexible schedule for a better financial situation.

  32. Sometimes the supposed flexibility of those jobs is “nice” but the reality is there’s not always flexibility, schedules are sometimes unjust – you suddenly go from getting a lot of hours to getting shafted, and if you need to take a day off – well, might as well kiss that job goodbye and find another one.

    Whenever I get the feeling that an “easy” job would be better, I just realize how crappy it is to deal with the general public and how awesome it is that I get A) awesome pay/benefits and B) job travel. Yes, there may be more stress, but it’s all relative.

  33. I know how you feel. I settled into full-time working, then bought a condo, then left the city and bought a house, then had a family in fairly short order. Well, a short order by today’s standards. When I was in school I had a pretty good lifestyle for a student – I had all my classes every other morning so I had a lot of time to work and make money while my residence mates were in class. I had three jobs, but only two were regular (I bartended for private parties every once in a while). The best was that one of my jobs was at one of the smaller campus libraries so I could do my homework at the library after I did everything I needed to do on my shift.

    Since I made enough money over the summer to pay for almost all my tuition and rent for the year, my work throughout the school year only needed to pay for expenses like groceries, gas (I didn’t have a car but I paid more than my share for my buddies) and going out. Making about $325 a week and only having that to pay for was pretty substantial in the 90s.

    Now I’m married in a two-income household with two kids and while we have very little debt compared to the average (we have about 50% equity in our home and have a very small car loan – our 1997 Nissan Maxima died and we needed a quick replacement – and a very small HELOC that we used to pay for repairs and renovations to the house that will be paid off within 2 months), I don’t feel as though I have the freedom to go out and be irresponsible, even for more than a night or two a year.

    I’ll be honest though, I love my job and family and those feelings are starting to go away. That said, I’m 34 years old, so you might have a ways to go.

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