It Gets Better for Quarterlifers Too!

April 12, 2011

I’ve been reading the It Gets Better book this week and it really struck a chord with me. If you aren’t familiar with the project, columnist Dan Savage started it after last years rash of publicized gay teen suicides. He wanted a way to reach out to those teenagers who were unable to see what their lives could be after they escaped the bullying and the homophobia of their middle and high schools. It began with him and his boyfriend in America, husband in Canada making a video about how much better their lives had gotten. After only a few hours on YouTube, there were hundreds of other videos from gay and straight people alike letting those kids know that, they may not be able to see it now, but life gets better.

I thought about my Quarterlife Crisis. It was a time where I really couldn’t see that things were going to get better. I was lost and depressed and didn’t see how anyone else could understand what I was going through. It wasn’t until I found a few friends who were in the same situation that we realized that we weren’t alone. The bullying I felt during that time was all internal. I told myself I was worthless, and lazy, and unmotivated. I told myself I was never going to achieve anything and that my life to that point had been a waste.

Meeting the people I have through this website and others like it, I was able to build a support system. I didn’t have people who had gone through it telling me it gets better, but I found people who were able to help me believe that one day it would get better for all of us. And one day, it happened. It wasn’t as though there was some miracle change that made it all better. Making your Quarterlife Crisis go away is a matter of many baby steps.

One of the symptoms of the Crisis is finding out that the path you’ve been on may not be the right one for you. It leads to a feeling of confusion and an inability to move forward. I stayed in that place for two years. I tried a lot of things in those two years to attempt happiness, but it wasn’t until I enrolled in business school that I really started to get better. It wasn’t that I was even particularly interested in business or wanted an MBA, but I wanted to be working on something, anything, that could feel like bettering myself.

It starts with one step: A part time job in a bookstore or a volunteer opportunity on the weekends or joining a choral group on Tuesday nights. It means failing at more and more things until one thing fits what you’re looking for. It takes redefining yourself and realizing that just because this first path didn’t work out doesn’t mean you’re a failure. In fact, it means you may know yourself better than most people out there.

For those in the Quarterlife Crisis, it does get better. But you have to be responsible for making it better. And that isn’t a task that comes easily when you’re gripped with fear. And even when it gets better, there are still hurdles to overcome. Some days I feel that same feeling of dread and failure creeping into the back of my brain. Maybe I’m not doing things the way I should. Maybe I chose the wrong path. Maybe I’ll never amount to anything. But then I do something that reminds me how far I’ve come. I’ll go back to that volunteer opportunity, or read a book on economics, or dig through the recycled craft supplies at Goodwill in order to make art. You have to remember who you are and what makes you so amazing.

I realize that when it feels like everything you do is wrong it’s hard to take the advice to just do something. One of my favorite themes in the It Gets Better book is that it doesn’t actually get better. What happens is you get better. You become better able to handle the bad times, you have greater resources to use during those bad times, and you have the ability to change your life so that those things and people that were making you so miserable no longer have a grip on your life.

It does get better. We all have the ability to make it better. It’s not easy and it’s not pretty, but you’re also not alone. And in the end, not only does it get better, but WE get better.

Irreplaceable: A Review of Color Me Obsessed

April 12, 2011

The other day I went to see Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements. What else can you say about The Replacements – a band that has been broken up for nearly two decades – that hasn’t already been said? Apparently, not much. The entire length of this film is one big succession of fans (both famous and not) geeking out over the relative genius of each of members of the band and, of course, the madness that equaled and collective. Strangely, though, this proves to be more than enough. The tidbits of information that die-hard fans aren’t already well aware of are few and far between, but the story-telling is spot-on and will keep you at attention the length of the film. Every one of the subjects interviewed is clearly enjoying talking about their favorite band as much as the audience is enjoying listening to them talk about their favorite band. There’s realism and simplicity to the craft used that makes the headiest moments come off as relatable, not contrived or, worse, pretentious. In a world of constant false-reality T.V., this is no easy feat. It is particularly impressive because there is no music in the movie, no interviews with surviving band members . . . there are not even that many pictures of the band shown. The director claims that he wanted to treat this differently, and compared his choice not to show The Replacements during the film was much akin to the way God is always talked about in films but never shown. To quote him, “I don’t believe in God, but I believe in The Replacements.” That may or may not be true, but it adds to a collection of good stories centered around The Replacements none-the-less. It’s a collection of stories worth telling.