Friday, March 04, 2005

Transitions to Adulthood and Quarter-life Crisis

Whoever said the adolescent years are a turbulent and precarious period of a human being's life must not have lived long enough to reach his/her twenties. They don't call it quarter-life crisis for nothing. Lately the pressures of being in my twenties, particularly when I'm 3 months away from the big "quarter" of a century, is proving to be harrowing, depressing, and exhausting.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend writing her masters theses on "transititions to adulthood" has made me explore previously unknown avenues in my brain and has unlocked even more anxiety in my already paranoid and quasi-insomniac psyche.

The interview lasted an hour and a half. After which I felt as though I'd run a 10k marathon. My throat hurt, but my mind hurt more. I was able to reach deep-seated thoughts and feelings about my "transition to adulthood" but for some reason, this question I found, was the most difficult.

"What do you think makes someone an adult? Is it career? If you have a job, does it make you an adult? If you've finished college? How much money you make? If you're married? When you have children?"

Wow. So, what makes one an adult? I vaguely remember saying; "I guess it's in a person's perspective, or self-evaluation. If you think you're an adult, if you've decided you're an adult and no longer a child. Then you are one. It's really very subjective."

What a load of crap. I didn't know what I was talking about, and even now, I wonder if I really believe what I said. I've a relatively stable job. I make a decent living. I pay my taxes and SSS dues. I've never committed a crime against humanity or
beasts. I drink in moderation and have recently stopped smoking. I've never voted, but I do so in principle. I maintain reasonably healthy social relationships. I drive on the right side of the road and practice my rights as an individual consumer
assiduously. But do all these make me an adult?

What makes the twenties so difficult, especially for women, is this sense that you're running out of time. You've only roughly a decade to devote solely to yourself, on your self-development, career, life plans. Because, if you want to procreate then it
means you've got to have children by 30. If you push the limit you run the risk of having a difficult pregnancy or producing offspring with less than optimum capabilities as can be generated by you and your spouse's combined alleles.

But before having children you've gotta find the right mate. And God knows when you're about to hit the big 2-5 then you get this feeling the time for "fun" and "games" is fast diminishing in the horizon. Less time and space for fooling around and toying with other people's feelings. Less time and space for casual dates and flings. It's time for some serious natural selection; do I want my children to bear his genes? Will he be capable of providing food, shelter and a home?

But before finding a mate, any self-respecting woman of my generation, socially conditioned to make full use not only of the uterus, but of other equally working body parts, would like to make "something" of herself. What this something is, is usually nebulous. But you know its something bigger, greater, more relevant than yourself. And certainly as relevant as creating another life and providing for it decently.

So you see, a woman has got to make all the right decisions that will affect her entire life in her twenties. Finish studies, work, produce, consume, mate and breed, all while that clock is ticking. Not doing any of the above in the right sequence, and at the right time makes one a social anomaly. Abnormal and strange yes, but probably more stress-free.

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