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How to handle your quarter life crisis: Be realistic

David Floyd • Mar 22, 2020 at 8:00 AM

As a junior in high school, I made what I thought was a pragmatic career choice: I was going to be a screenwriter.

At a time when most of my friends were thinking about jobs in medicine, engineering and law, screenwriting seemed like a perfect compromise between realism (I didn’t have a camera and therefore couldn’t actually make movies) and smart leveraging of my existing skills (I liked to write and watched a lot of movies).

I turned 25 on March 16, and I’m no closer to being a screenwriter today than I was as a 17-year-old student reading every possible book about filmmaking in the Dobyns-Bennett High School library. I’m fine with that. It turns out there isn’t much of a job market for screenwriters outside of California.

But, that doesn’t mean I’ve been immune to anxieties about my future — a feeling only exacerbated by the fact that I’ve now been alive for a quarter of a century.

According to LinkedIn, 75% of 25 to 33 year olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis, a dramatic way of describing the general apprehension young people have about their relationships, career and financial stability.

In 2017, LinkedIn commissioned a survey that gathered responses from 6,014 people aged 25 to 33 living in the U.S., the United Kingdom, India and Australia. Sixty one percent of respondents said the No. 1 cause of their quarter-life crisis was their desire to find a career that they were passionate about. Career achievement was one of the most frequently cited reasons behind their anxiety.

According to the survey, this prompted some young people to make momentous life choices, with a third reporting that they changed their career entirely and one in 10 saying they made the transition to freelance work.

I admire people who have the confidence to say that they want to be a filmmaker or a poet or a famous musician or the president of the United States. If they have a realistic plan to get there, I don’t think they should compromise their dreams in the slightest.

But, as a backup, it’s probably better to think more specifically about the activities that you like rather than the careers that sound appealing. I like to write, and I like to follow current events, two passions that added up to a career as a reporter.

Realistically, the world only needs a certain number of screenwriters. It’s good to be flexible about what you can accomplish.

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