Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Midnight In Paris, Golden Age Thinking

Midnight In Paris is the best movie I’ve watched so far this year. It caused a lot of introspection and I found myself thinking a lot of the same things the main character did. Warning: The rest of this entry contains spoilers. In the movie he travels back in time (I’m a bit of a nerd for time travel) and talks with Hemmingway, Picasso, and others. It was a really cool idea and I loved every moment of the movie which took place in the past. Later on, the main character has an epiphany about how people become too enamored with the past.

“Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is Golden Age Thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in - its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

I couldn’t agree more. I have always been a big fan of living in the moment, trying not to lament things in the past, or feeling “that we are victims of the time we live in.” The movie ends with the main character getting a new resolve to live in the present and make the most of the time that he has. The movie points out simple things that we take for granted like modern medicine or the ability to travel all over the world. You watch him come to terms with his reality, his present.

I really enjoyed the film, from the acting to the overall message. My favorite character is the Hemmingway character, who is absolutely amazing. I’ll end this entry by sharing an awesome monologue of his about love:

“All men fear death. It's a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven't loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same. However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what most lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman's heart - the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another. Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task, for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness... you will feel immortal.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dealing with your Quarter Life Crisis

What is a Quarter Life Crisis?

It’s the overwhelming feeling that everyone is somehow doing better than you. If you’re in your twenties or thirties then you probably categorize your success in two ways. 1) Having Financial Independence and 2) Starting a Family. These two things come from the traditional definition of “being an adult” (I have my opinions about that but I’ll save that entry for another time). Below are some of the symptoms of people experiencing their Quarter Life Crisis:

  • Disappointment with your job.
  • Frustration with relationships.
  • Bored with your social life.
  • Feeling “not good enough” because your job isn’t at your academic/intellectual level.
  • Insecurity about your current accomplishments or insecurity about the future.
  • Nostalgia for high school or college years.
  • Intense loneliness or depression.

The Quarter Life Crisis can be thought of as an extreme case of “the grass is greener.” The reason people our age experience this feeling is because our paths have been similar up until now (we all went to school). So, as our paths diverge it is natural to form insecurities in all the areas of life. The strongest catalysts for a Quarter Life Crisis are lacking a meaningful relationship or lacking meaningful work. Due to a variety of factors (economy, apathy, and intellectualism to name a few) my generation contains a lot of people who are dealing with their Quarter Life Crisis and it is becoming almost as common as the Mid Life Crisis.

Read on if you’re having a Quarter Life Crisis the rest of this entry is designed to help you get through it.

You might already feel better knowing that it’s a real thing, that you aren’t alone, and that all the people around you have similar anxieties and insecurities. I went through my own Quarter Life Crisis just last year. Given my experiences, I think these steps are a good way to deal with a Quarter Life Crisis:

Step 1) Figure out what you want.
Step 2) Figure out what you’re willing to give up for it.
Step 3) Go to work.

It may sound easy or oversimplified but, trust me, it’s not.

Step 1. What do you want? Sounds easy enough, right? This step was incredibly hard for me. I honestly had no idea what I wanted. I could come up with a reasonable list of the "What’s" that I wanted, but then I gave some thought to the "Why" part. I spent night after night struggling with mortality, religion, and psychology. Why do I want those things? Is it societal pressure? Is it something that would genuinely make me happy? Is it material? This step might be easier for you than it was for me, but the point is to really think about the things you want and why you want them. You should break them down into things that will make you happy in the short term, in the long term, and in life.

Step 2. What are you willing to give up for your goals? This will be a wake up call if your goals are possible or not. If Step 1 is the "What" and the "Why", then this is the "How". It’s okay to dream big, but if you have no idea how you’re going to do it then all you’re doing is dreaming. Step 2 balances being realistic and being sure that risk and failure aren’t holding you back. This may often require you to go back to Step 1 because reality can change what you want. This step led me to a lot of self discovery. I discovered that I was wiling to give up a lot for my goals. I once gave up my social life to work on my depression. I once gave up a steady paycheck to take the leap and find a new career.

Step 3. Going to work doesn’t mean actually go to your job (although it could be). It just means “going to work” on your goals. No more lazy cop outs. You might still be “finding yourself”, “soul searching”, or “going through something” but at least you have a plan of action. As long as you did Step 1 correctly you should be doing something that will lead to your happiness in the short term, long term, or the rest of your life. It may not be easy but (if you did Step 2 correctly) you’ll know that it’s realistic and that it’s worth it. To me, Step 3 seems like the easiest step because when you truly want something nothing can get in the way.

By completing these steps you’ve given yourself purpose (through goals) and happiness when you reach them. These two things alone can help you make it through your Quarter Life Crisis. Looking back, the Quarter Life Crisis wasn’t some terrible event that caused my stress and depression, it was just an opportunity to re-evaluate my intended course through life.