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By Eric

I started writing these “Quarter Life Crisis” posts as a way to a way to unleash my own frustrations. Prior to joining Reactionary Century, I had never really used my writing as a way to explore myself – at least not directly. Over the last few months, however, I pried into myself once a week to explore my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Exploring myself is something that I have always done, but that exploration took place exclusively in my own head, where I could protect my ideas from the outside world.

Once I convinced myself I had something interesting to say, and could hide behind the relative anonymity of a byline, I began writing my thoughts into these weekly posts. Whether or not you, the readers, got anything out of what I had to say, I will probably never know. I don’t need to know.  Although, I certainly hope you gleaned something.

What I do know is that I gained a lot out of writing once a week about myself. The fact that I had an audience, to be quite honest, is irrelevant. I learned about myself and improved myself. I honestly believe I am a better person today that I was when I first started writing “Quarter Life Crisis.”

The reasons for my changes go far beyond writing for this site once a week, but scribbling my thoughts certainly played a role. Life, as everyone knows, and as every cliché teaches, us ebbs and flows. Consistency is hard to find.

As I look back and look forward, I realize that I am ending this writing venture at the perfect time. I don’t really feel like I am in a “crisis” anymore. I haven’t figured anything out, really, but I’m pretty content with that. The angst, cynicism and stress give way eventually, and you realize that you’re just happy with the things you have, as opposed to the things you don’t have.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I am currently ebbing (or flowing? I don’t really know which is the good one…) but I really can’t look at my life in terms of a “crisis” anymore. Whereas a few months ago I needed somewhere to release my insecurities, right now I feel pretty good with where I am (and who wants to read about someone who is happy?).

I’m hanging up my general life musings pen for now, but I will continue to write. I encourage anyone who ever read my thoughts, and realized they felt something similar to write their ideas down. Even if it’s just in a journal. I promise it will be the best decision you ever make.

Quarter Life Crisis has come to a close, but if you want to keep up with Eric you can find his writing on www.tktwincites.com. Or follow him on Twitter to keep up with whatever he is thinking, writing, or doing.

By Eric

I hate hard news. I hate it hard. Harsh, but to me there is nothing worse than reporting the news.

This is where I backtrack momentarily, because I am not trying to demean reporters in any way. It takes skill. I know this. I’ve tried it. However, I also know that it absolutely isn’t for me. I thought it was, once upon a time, but I was a freshman in college and drunk 44% of that time.

No, what I have learned through my various meandering thoughts and equally meandering writing ventures, is that I have no interest in journalism—or reporting, at least.

My point here isn’t to rant about myself – as far as you know – but rather to state that it is often easier to figure out what you don’t want to do than what you do want to do. (Which sounds more obvious than it is.)

When I first decided I want to write, I was hell-bent on being a sportswriter. Lock it down, I’m covering sports. I joined the paper freshman year in college as a sports reporter. I did the standard things a sportswriter does: cover events, interview athletes, write game recaps. It was exactly what I thought I wanted to do.

Except I hated it. A lot.

At the time, I didn’t really think of year-and-half I spent hating being a sports reporter as something that would become defining for me in any way, but it turns out that it was. It showed me that something I was so sure I wanted to do was something I didn’t want at all.

People get so wrapped up in trying to make the job they think they want work, that they don’t explore whether or not that job is what they really want. Even if you spend a couple of years doing something you thought you would love, only to realize it isn’t why you really want, is that really a bad thing?

It’s a lot better to change your plans and be happy, than convince yourself you are happy if you really aren’t.

By Eric

Everybody is either breaking up or getting married. Hyperbole, perhaps, but it certainly feels that way.

From the outside looking in at these crumbling or (theoretically) burgeoning relationships, it seems to me that the success or failure is rooted in change. Specifically, change in the people involved. And while I am the antithesis of a relational expert, I have become a self-appointed expert on personal change over the last year or so.

People change. People change constantly. But people also change at different times, rates, and in a myriad of ways. It is how one deals with their own change that allows them to deal with the change in others.

Everybody who is old enough to have experienced the post-college, early-twenties lifestyle—a lifestyle that can only be described as an enigmatic mystery riddle—says the same thing: Nobody knows what the hell they are doing in their twenties, but eventually you begin to figure it out.

Everybody who is in the midst of experiencing the post-college, early-twenties lifestyle is coping with the realization that they have no idea what the hell they are doing while, with as much confidence as they can muster, doubtfully proclaims that it’s okay, because eventually they will figure it out. Cuz that’s what them old folk say.

And while them old folk may be right, everyone is so caught up in the mess that is their own life, that they’re too busy to get caught up in the mess that is anyone else’s life.

Basically, you have a group of people who have no idea what they’re doing, assume everyone else does, and are trying to process the changes they are experiencing in their own lives. Difficult, no?

Now add another person to the mix.

Beyond just romantic relationships, any sort of bond becomes stretched, weakened, and possibly broken by how you cope with your own changes, while simultaneously dealing with the changes in others. While changing in perfect unison is the perfect scenario, the reality is that perfect change doesn’t exist. Change is imperfect. Change is human nature—the most imperfect of all natures.

The problem is that self change is a wholly selfish construct. It’s rooted solely in yourself and your own experiences. And while, generally, selfishness is bad, sometimes it is necessary—as problematic as it can be.

Now consider a relationship. Something that should be selfless is tainted by the necessary selfishness of those involved. It seems like an insurmountable problem. It seems like we should all hole up to discover ourselves and re-emerge upon self-realization to unite with others and form friendships and relationships that are confident and solidified.

Depressing.

However, the fact is, periods of change and self-realization are good things. The key is surrounding yourself with people who understand what self-realization and change are. Not because you will be changing at the same time and in the same way, but because you will be realizing your changes together. Finding out if the people you are becoming are people who want to be together.

In some cases, the relationship will become stronger, while in others it will completely collapse. Neither is wrong. Moving apart is natural. As people change and mature, the people who are unwilling to accept the changes in others will be the ones that will see their relationships fail.

The ones, however, who realize the changes in themselves and others, and decide to move on anyway, aren’t experiencing failure. Those relationships didn’t fail, they just didn’t evolve, and as painful that discovery can be, in the end everyone is better off—even if one of them doesn’t believe it.

Change is a good thing. Change, like the people involved, is an imperfect thing. How you accept the changes in yourself and others, is how you become a better person for yourself and others.

By Eric

I started a new job this week. A job that is the furthest possible thing from a career. A job that isn’t even a step towards a career. A job that is the epitome of temporary. A job that is just a job.

The reality is that for most people a job is just a job. It’s rare that you stumble across the person who legitimately loves what they do. Some people like what they do, some people hate what they do, and some just do what they do.

As a 23-year-old, over-analyzing my job history is a tad ridiculous. I don’t have much experience, and what experience I do have amounts to absolutely nothing I would ever consider as a career. (Especially the four summers I spent, for all intents and purposes, as a garbage man.)

Trying to decipher what exactly having a “career” means, is the hardest thing for me. It’s something that gets wrapped up in my mind as an entire lifestyle: Job. Wife. Kids. Picket fence. Dog. Bills. Grocery shopping. Little League. Dance recitals. Neighbors. You know, the whole “real world” shebang.

Maybe it’s because I’m not mentally prepared for anything on that list (my last trip to the grocery store resulted in me returning with mayonnaise, green tea, and Scooby Doo Macaroni and Cheese) that I can’t stand the thought of a career right now. Or, maybe I’m being unfair to the entire notion of employment.

If someone were to say to me, “wait, aren’t you just avoiding responsibilities?” the short answer would be, “yes.”

The long answer, however, goes much deeper than that. I’m not irresponsible. In fact, to be frank, I am one of the more responsible people I know. I’m quite confident that I could do most jobs (within reason) and do them well. I’m also quite confident that I would be completely miserable doing those jobs.

When I graduated from college and began searching for work, I half-heartedly sifted through full- time entry level positions. When I stumbled upon a temporary internship that gave no allusion of leading to a long-term job commitment, I couldn’t have been happier. Whereas most people approach an internship as a potential means for future employment with a company, I approached it as a temporary resume builder – which is exactly what I wanted.

Upon moving on from that job, I began searching primarily for temporary work. With the holidays coming up, everyone is looking for extra work during the busy shopping months. Again, I took a temporary position – one that will last through December (although, less for resume-building this time).

It’s easy to look at what I am doing as a fear of commitment, but that isn’t what it is. I’m not afraid to commit. Am I afraid of what is going to happen next? Of course. But I’m not afraid of commitment.

The fact is, I don’t know what I want out of life yet, and as I watch some of my peers pretend to know what they want, I become even more aware of this fact. As I watch people around me get engaged, get a “real” job, and begin planning the rest of their lives, I wonder how they can possibly be so sure of what they are doing. The reality is that they probably aren’t. They’re probably just as lost as I am.

I don’t legitimately know what my goals are yet. I have ideas. I have twinges of desire for a certain life, but I don’t really know what I want.

Maybe I’m scared. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m making the wrong choices. But I don’t have to be confident in what I am doing, to be confident in knowing that I will figure it out.

Odds are, someday I will have a wife and kids. Someday I will have responsibilities that are bigger and more important than me. And if and when that day arrives, I know my choices will be different, because my choices won’t involve “me,” it will involve “us.”

Right now, it’s just me. I’m my responsibility. So for now, I have just one goal: figuring out what my goals are.

By Eric

Have you ever had one of those weeks that makes you really re-evaluate yourself? Not a bad week per se, but just a stretch of days that really makes you think?  This is obviously a rhetorical question, because if you say “no” you are a dirty, rotten liar. In which case, kindly leave. (Kidding…mostly.)

Lately, I’ve had a lot of time to think because I’ve been jobless since September and essentially left to wallow in my own subconscious, which clearly has its pros and cons. I’ve been known to drive myself a little crazy with my over-analyzing skills from time to time.

The past week or so, however, the time to think has certainly been a good thing. As I’ve watched the people and world around me change on a daily basis, I’ve become more and more aware of how much I am changing as a person.

Even in just the last few months I feel like I have changed. A lot.

Some people embrace change. Some people fear change. Some people are so unable to change that they spend their entire lives doing essentially the same thing all day every day.

No matter how much or how little your day to day life shifts over time, there is one thing that will remain constant: your relationships. Not romantically, necessarily, but just the notion of surrounding yourself with certain people. The interactions within those relationships will change, and the people who you consider closest to you will likely change, but having people around you never will.

Trying to decide where you fit, and who is most important to you isn’t just about deciding where you fit, but deciding who fits there with you. I’ve always struggled with that, because I’ve always struggled with forming legitimately close bonds.

Looking back, everyone can think of friendships that have stood through thick and thin, and everyone can think of friendships that have fizzled. Not by design, but just because life forces people in different directions. People change. People move on. People drift apart. It’s a completely natural progression of life.

The fact is, someone you have known for six months could know you better than someone you’ve known for six years. Figuring out who is important in your life isn’t about quantity. It is it about quantity of time, and it certainly isn’t about quantity of people. Surrounding yourself with as many superficial relationships as possible isn’t going to make you happy. And spending your time with people you’ve known forever isn’t going to make you happy if that is the only reason you still hang out. Quantity doesn’t matter.

It’s all about quality. The people you know, trust and respect. The people who know you the best. 

As I sit here thinking about the people in my life, I can’t help but think of a quote from an essay by Mary Schmich that was turned into the song “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” by Baz Luhrman: “friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.”

The key is deciding who those precious few are, and realizing it isn’t just how long you’ve known them, but how well.