Quarter-Life Crisis Lessons

Years ago, there happened to be only one phase of life crisis – and it was midlife. Alas, with the stresses of student loans piling on interest rates, undeniably talented twenty-somethings sans and the ever terrifying possibility of moving home with parents, a new crisis has come to be a household phrase: the quarter-life crisis.

It’s happened. I knew it was coming and that there was no way I could even stop it. Even at the tender age of 21, commuting back and forth from the City of Brotherly Love to the Big Apple on my own dime for unpaid internships created an anxiety to be experienced by only those who have mortgages, trust funds and several mouths to feed. I had none of those; my only expenses were Greyhound tickets to NYC and back, the occasional meal when I could fit it in between my multiple part-time jobs, 18 credits and my internships, and of course, the absurdly high rent payments in Philadelphia. There was no reason to have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and yet, there it was.

The Hustle

Perhaps the elusive “quarter-life crisis” only strikes those with an innate and unutterable fear of failure. Everyone defines “failure” differently. For me, my definition of “failure” terrified me to the point of exhaustion. At a time when I should’ve been enjoying the last months of my collegiate experience, I was too busy working from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, to ensure that I would never be put into a position of “failure.” When I moved to an entirely new city early last year, instead of going out to make friends and explore my new “home,” I stayed at the office until the sun went down. I knew only the walls of the office and the walls of my apartment complex. That wouldn’t make a great story, would it?

Perhaps it is both a blessing and a curse. If you are terrified of failure, work consumes your life. This could certainly put you among the top performers with the best numbers and greatest experiences but are those numbers enough when you ignore friendships, family and all that which made you what you are? It may be that I’m getting older, smarter or a combination of the two, but I’m starting to believe that it is not enough.

I haven’t stopped working in six years. I’ve gone anywhere and everywhere to better my career and gain the best experience that I could. Along the way, however, I’ve lost the best friendships I’ve ever had. I have stopped talking to friends just because I wasn’t able to find the time. And this – all of this – is what creates the quarter-life crisis. The realization that everything you have been tirelessly working for doesn’t matter when you don’t have anyone to enjoy it with you. Your successes mean nothing when the only person you can count on is yourself (and your parents, if you’re lucky).

As I’m embarking on a new chapter of my life, wherever that may take me, I am entering into it knowing two things. First, I will never lose my innate fear of failure. It makes me who I am and drives me to be the best marketing professional I can possibly be. Second? When someone comes into my life, realizes that my career is of utmost importance and still wants to stay, I will do everything in my power to keep them in my life. As for this quarter-life crisis; it’s old news, as far as I’m concerned. Hit me with your best shot.

To have undeniable success is one thing; to be surrounded by true friendship is another. There is a way to have both and I will have it all. Mark my words.


Has Hov Inspired You Recently? Didn’t Think So.

His name is Hov. H to the O, V – and I bet you would never believe that a lyric of his has become my personal pep talk and professional slogan. Yes, Jigga – the man, the myth, the legend – has successfully crafted a sentence which is coherent and clever enough that it has altered the way I plan to approach the future of my career.

For those of you who know me (and for those who don’t), I make it brutality obvious that I will do everything in my power to fight the stereotypical duties of a woman – marrying rich, counting down the days to the birth of one’s child, delivering several more children, and having a “career” which is flexible enough so one can leave work in enough time to take little Johnny-Jo to soccer. I last thought this sort of life was appealing when I played with dolls — I made Ken drive the pink convertible to work while Barbie and Kelly stayed home to cook. I loved babies and a fun Friday night was sitting for my neighbors. Things quickly changed.

I cannot tell you when this changed happened or what caused the transformation, but I can tell you one thing – “I’m different. I can’t base what I’m going to be off of what everybody isn’t.” While it is society’s norm for women to have an innate urgency to marry and reproduce at a surprising rate, I think I’ll focus on my career – instead of driving three kids to ballet and Boy Scouts, I’ll enjoy a casual glass of wine while watching reruns of Desperate Housewives to unwind after a fast-paced and game changing day. While most of my acquaintances from high school are engaged, married or onto their second child (not necessarily in that order), I am wonderfully content with my life and where it is going.

For the majority of my life, trying to “fit in” was the bane of my existence. Now, at the tender age of 22, the last thing I want to do is conform. Hova, your poetic words have moved me so, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will be what everybody isn’t.

I'm So Ambitious.

The Clash of Generations…

Our generation seems to always want to cut a few corners for instant gratification. Now, I’m not talking about in gym class when we were running laps and cut corners (which I did every time…sorry Ms. Andrews), but we were expecting to graduate college with a Porsche and adorable townhouse waiting for us with bows on top. Needless to say, that was not the case because I am still sharing a 1994 Chrysler LeBaron which happens to be missing the back window and is an easy target for the Philadelphia homeless population with my brother.I don’t want to say I was one of those expecting things to just happen, for the heavens to open up and my dream job to fall into my lap…but…I sort of was.

But all of the blame should not fall on us, because previous generations are doubting our abilities. Previous generations…the baby boomers, if you will…expect us to sit behind a computer, Facebook stalking and playing World of Warcraft all day instead of making them money. Needless to say, that is not the case either. There are members of my generation (including me) who are willing to go the distance for a company, to work for minimum wage (or for free) to prove ourselves to the bigwigs of any given industry. The question is, are they noticing?

When I send out resumes which boasts of three unpaid internships which required long commutes and no stipends, several  part-time positions promoting Fortune 500’s, a membership in an honor fraternity…are they intrigued by my ambition or sickened by my boastful e-mail attachment? I want honest answers. Companies are going so far as to say we, my generation, are “problematically overconfident.” Is it my generation which is problematically overconfident or the baby boomers who are problematically pessimistic?

We are capable. We may be confident but most of us are not cocky. We have been taught to fight for what we believe, and the truth is…we believe in ourselves. I guess we can work on the whole “cutting corners” thing, though.

We Are Capable

The College Grad’s Version of a Critical Decision

"To Know the Road Ahead, Ask Those Coming Back"

Since graduation I have had five interviews. I thought I was one of the lucky ones until I realized I will be having to make an extremely difficult decision in the upcoming weeks (if all goes as I hope and think it will).

OPTION A: Before graduation, I had interviewed with an NFL team for a position in community relations. “What could this position be,” you may ask. Aye, there’s the rub. It is an intern-level position. Now before you shudder in disbelief that I may be considering an internship position post-graduation, I need to let it be known that it will be paid. I do use the term “paid” loosely; it would be minimum wage, without benefits (bites finger). Yes. After four years, thousands of dollars and three unpaid internships, would the next step be to a paid internship? I’ve been teetering back and forth; the job description is me in a nutshell. Player appearances, media coverage, promotions, event planning…everything I love to do, and coincidentally, everything at which I excel.

OPTION B: I recently had two telephone interviews with a digital ad sales company in New York (if you don’t know me, New York is my promised land). My third interview is  tomorrow afternoon at the New York City satellite location. The company prides itself on the benefits offered by the 30-something executives. With the founder being just a little younger than 35, the company knows what is enticing to its younger-than-normal team;  it offers health, vision, dental and little perks like car washes and happy hours. The position for which I am interviewing isn’t necessarily in the field of public relations but the closely related and perhaps, more profitable, marketing and ad sales. This company is showing promise of growing into one of the world’s premiere digital ad sales firms, and perhaps I should hop on the tail of this comet while I have the chance.

But the question remains; is it better to take a salary position with benefits which is not necessarily in your field or a “paid” internship that promises of growth and demands all skills you’ve acquired during your collegiate career? To make it simple; a career for money or a gig for passion?