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Disillusioned, quarter-life crisis, whatever you wanna call it - help?


Aceism

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Tomorrow is my birthday. I hit 24.

 

I should be happy. I am in a great place right now, doing what I love. I have a great supportive girlfriend, a supportive family and a vast network of friends that would go to bat for me if I needed it. A seemingly perfect life.

 

I'm not.

 

Here's a list of things that need to be addressed:

 

Age / Career

 

The first thing that bothers me is my age. My entire life I was kind of the partier, adventurer type, traveling accross different states, blissfully ignorant to the reality around me. I hopped from college to college, meeting new people, figuring out my interests, basically enjoying life through rose-tinted lenses. Only recently did I kick start my career. While there is nothing wrong about enjoying life, I was a complete idealist, not really learning about financial planning, paying bills and the costs accumulating from spending. And film is not really a field you should be going into if you plan on a stable, secure career. I'm trying very hard to learn the nuts and bolts of the industry so I could be a confident producer. I've picked up books, studied them nonstop. I went to film school. I've worked on feature films, and interned at a couple of places that could provide me with a framework for opportunity. Still, I think I could be doing better. I just got off a feature film, so now I'm on the job prowl again. It's frustrating having to always worry about getting your next job.

 

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with my girlfriend. We were talking about Sonic the Hedgehog, and I told her it was the first video game I played on SEGA Genesis.

 

She didn't know what a SEGA Genesis was. That's when it hit me how fast my youth was disappearing and how fast my peers were surpassing me in their careers, relationships and ultimately life.

 

All my friends back home are getting married, settling down and having kids. I can't do that yet because working in the entertainment industry requires a lifetime commitment. I can't afford it anyway with the amount of debt I've taken on.

 

Relationship

 

My girlfriend is also long distance and still in college, enjoying the illusion of security I was protected by some years ago. I really want to be with her, but at the same time sometimes I feel she is a hindrance to my own life - a hindrance in the sense that I'm constantly jealous of her youth while I'm worrying about bills. I also don't know when she can move in with me because she's so comfortable where she is right now in her small town, so all that anxiety and worrying distracts me heavily from writing scripts and generally pursuing my dreams with 100% focus. I want to be with her since this industry is so lonely at times, yet I don't want to because of the above-mentioned. So that's a conundrum.

 

Friendships

 

I've been a social butterfly my whole life. I have friends in many different social circles, which may seem like a good thing, but you ever hear of the term, "the lonely leader?" The guy who can sort of click with everyone, but never on a deeper level because he's off hanging out with another group? He gets invites to parties, but never to small social gatherings? That's me. I was always a leader. A lone wolf. I could guide people, offer them support, laugh with them, but then I'd wander off working on my career or doing my own thing before they get to know me on a deeper level.

 

I just can't seem to settle on one group of friends, which is what I feel the majority of people do. Life is too interesting in its variety for that. What that does for me in the long run though is it leaves me with a feeling of emptiness. I don't get it. I have a girlfriend and lots of friends, yet I feel alone. Am I asking for too much?

 

Family

 

The other issue here is with my family. I feel like I've had a disconnect ever since I moved out of my house on a whim and settled in California. We've always been close. Family gatherings, social functions, parties with family friends. Now that I'm away I miss them terribly. I'm still guilt ridden with the fact that my family has supported me so much in the past and I still don't have anything to show for them (basically a career that will allow me to cut off any financial dependence from them). My sister and I don't talk so much. I recently heard she's been doing horribly in school, and getting into drinking. I feel awful as a brother not being there. Advice over facebook doesn't count.

 

The point of all of this is the accumulation of all these things is starting to scare me into thinking I've failed as an adult. I told myself when I was younger I would not have a quarter-life crisis because I'd already be successful at this age. To keep the lie going, I've projected the image of myself as a happy upscale, mobile yuppie to all my friends and family when deep down I'm no more than a wreck. To put it loosely, I feel like narrator from Fight Club.

 

I'm not telling you guys to do a dissection of my life (although I'd greatly appreciate it), but perhaps an insight as to what I could do to straighten it all out. If I don't, I feel like the next place I'm gonna be checking myself into is therapy or a mental hospital.

 

Thanks.

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There is a lot to dissect here, I will do my best. The first thing I want to say is that you sound a lot like my best friend. He feels like he bounces around in different social groups, never actually joining any of them. Just as you described, he is something of a "lonely leader". Now me on the other hand, I am the opposite of him. I have no large group of friends. I don't even bounce between different groups. Instead I have a small core group of friends, and I am very close with all of them. But we don't really all go out and party together. Which is why it is so strange that my best friend and I are even friends. I think we became friends because there is no barrier to being friends with me (like there is with these insular groups he attempts to join). I walk my own path a lot of the time, and because of that, there is usually room to walk next to me. And I think that's why we get along so well. It is certainly the best friendship I've ever had. My point in all this is, perhaps you need to put some more effort into meeting some different people, but then not moving on so fast. I get the feeling like you "collect" people. You seem very interested in people--as you said, "Life is too interesting in it's variety". But could you be going for quantity at the expense of quality? It takes a lot of hard work to build lasting relationships. The fact that you aren't doing this, indicates to me that you either have not thought to do it before, or you are avoiding it for some reason. Or, the lifestyle you have chosen is not very conducive to forming long term relationships, and you are now realizing the impact of that. Whatever it is, I think you need to look at your pattern of behavior and analyze why you don't have the relationships you want - and this applies to friends, family, and intimate relationships all the same. You said that you are "projecting an image of a happy, upscale, mobile yuppie" to hide your feelings. I would ask, why do you think you need to project a certain image to people?

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I think it's because of how I was raised. My father is my role model. He was successful in virtually all aspects of his life - relationships, school, sports, social situations. The modern alpha male. And when I was born, he named me "Ace," so I could live up to his expectations as being successful, being number one. Needless to say I've fallen far short of that and I'm ashamed.

 

I'm insecure. So I pretend to hide my insecurity by projecting this false image of myself that I am a starbound success. It's worked so far with my friends, family and girlfriend, but I'm so far deep in this lie that I don't know how to get out of it, although I want to.

 

That's also probably why I maintain multiple superficial relationships instead of keeping a few close ones, since at a distance it's easier to hide the truth than expose it. I want to be like my father, but I can't. So I just try to act the role.

 

It's disingenuous at best and a fraud at worst. I hate it. But I don't know how to undo what I've already done.

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You know Ace, I could have written this post. I certainly agree with Yakas, the first step to wanting something is to realize it, and it seems that you have in regards to friendships. I am the same...lone leader wolf, however, after graduating, I realized that I prefer a core group of friends, and that's what I am in the process of doing...maintaining a handful of friendships. It certainly takes a lot of time and energy, but worth it than just having superficial relationships.

 

As for putting on face, many people do. I bet many people have even fooled you. I do the same, I think many people do and have to in order to not totally fall a part. It doesn't mean you are "fake", it's a coping mechanism.

 

I am about the same age as you and I think it's great you have a career! Especially in times like these. Keep focusing on that, as well as creating new goals. Write these goals done and visualize achieving them. Seriously, this helps (it does for me).

 

As stated earlier, the first step to change is recognizing what needs to be changed, or what you want changed. I think you'll be okay Ace...I also want to add it's great you got worldly experience with your traveling, that is priceless. Some people stay sheltered their entire lives and do not experience different places or people.

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I find it so amazing that people can be SO different. It's almost like I have the exact inverse problem as you guys. I feel like I cannot escape from my issues in any way, like they are always at the forefront and I feel like other people can very easily sense the problems I have with myself. I actually wish I could put up a little facade once in a while.

 

Your thoughts about your father are very insightful. I wonder if he struggled with some of the problems you are having. I think he probably did, and just never told you. Is he still alive? Perhaps the first step is to connect with him in a deeper way.

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