I cringed as Carl slammed the door and got in his car.
It was all my fault. I had said something that had pushed too far, words that I wished I could stuff back in my mouth the moment I felt them escape from my lips. I deserved for him to walk away in that moment.
Hours later, post-apologies and a full on ugly cry, we talked.
“What is going on with you? Why do you feel this way?” Carl asked me, “What is it?”
I didn’t have words to explain. All I knew is that I felt like I was spiraling. That I just wanted to not be fighting. That I wanted things to be easy.
And then he said it…and it was obvious.
Quarter life crisis. I am in the middle of one.
I am 27 years old. I just got married. Kids are on the horizon. And I am freaking out. I’m pretty sure all these feelings are what inspired this post.
I’ve never dealt well with change. My mother has endless stories about how I would come home from school and screech about a lamp being moved to another table. I liked things being where they were and staying the same. We moved so often and when what little outside family I had started to pass away, I just wanted things to stand still. My mother, always embracing and inflicting change, was exactly the opposite. She craved change and was never happier than when she was designing a new home with my dad. You should have seen the day I came home from elementary school and she had re-arranged my room.
I am a creature of habit. I like things to be cleaned a certain way, look a certain way. This year has brought endless change. We bought a house, we got married. Don’t get me wrong, these are all things I wanted so desperately, but it’s been a lot to take in at once.
So when Carl mentioned the QLC, I felt relieved. It had a name. I wasn’t slowly going crazy.
It’s hard to explain how I’ve been feeling, which is why it’s been so difficult for me to put a finger on what has been wrong until right now. Work has been draining – I’m gunning for a promotion that I don’t think I’ll get no matter how much work I put in – and Carl and I have still been arguing way more than I like to admit. It’s been exhausting. Something needs to change.
I work with mostly early 20-somethings. When I come in on Monday, I hear all about their weekend adventures out at bars or parties and it makes me feel really fucking old. Like really, really old. I don’t really like doing those things anymore. It’s a weird place to be because I’m nostalgic for something I don’t want. As much as I love a good girl’s night, looking out over the vast sea of “men” who look like boys just makes me happy that I go home to Carl. It reminds me of how happy I am that I am not still out there trying to find someone who is really interested in getting to know me.
I’m embarrassed about the reference I am about to make. Did anyone see the episode of the Kardashian’s where Kim is freaking out that she isn’t cool anymore and basically stalks Kylie because of it? I related to that SO WELL.
It’s strange to feel matronly in a bar when I’m not even 30, or that I no longer find it socially acceptable for me to wear a jean skirt. Carl has noticed that I dress differently. I initially thought it was just from being self-conscious about gaining weight but now that I’ve lost it, it’s really just me. The tops aren’t as low cut, the skirts aren’t as short, and nothing is tight. Ever. Photos of me from age 20 to now are so different.
I mean, the signs were all there. I made a pre-preggo summer bucket list where essentially nothing on it got crossed off. I keep referring to this countdown before we try and have a baby. I’ve been stressed out and in turn, drinking and (I hate to admit it) smoking more often because I feel like I have this tiny window to get it all out of my system before it all goes *poof*.
I feel trapped by indecision about what I want right now. I love my life and where it is. I have the freedom do anything I want (within reason), but instead, I almost prefer the problems of a midlife crisis to the instability of my early twenties. I’m worried that if I do inevitably choose something, it won’t bring me that fulfillment that I feel is missing, and then where would that bring me except right back to the beginning?
It’s an odd place to be. It’s the first time that I’ve ever felt like an adult in a not so positive way. When I went to college, I was an adult with more responsibility but I had all this freedom to contend with. I was soaring and capable of doing whatever I wanted. Now, there’s a mortgage, bills, a lawn, and 100k mile maintenance on cars. The responsibility is more…weighted.
So, all of this was banging around in my head and I had no idea how even understand it let alone form words about it. I lost the ability to confide in the one person who can help me the most – Carl. He’s been through it, he gets it in a way I was unable to describe.
Once that was established, I’ve felt so much better about everything. He reassured me that it’s okay, it happens, and it more common than we think. It’s important in those moments of nostalgic insanity to remember that it’s not about what you don’t have – it’s about what you HAVE. It’s also the right time to finally let go of my expectations of what adulthood should be and just embrace it for what it is.
This is where I am, right here, in this moment. Married to the love of my life, a home in the burbs, an awesome dog, and great friends.
It’s not such a bad place to be.