Book report: "Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis"
Good book, especially for 20-somethings, but also for anyone who's feeling or thinking or avoiding their way through a life crisis. I'd like to rationalize that I have a few years left on mine, and I threaten my 13-year-old kid that she's starting hers if she doesn't straighten out.
Lemme wander off-topic for a couple paragraphs. I seem to be giving up on some authors and drifting back to comfortable favorites. Life is too short to keep reading John Grisham or Stephen King (especially now that he's sober), but I'll happily wait for the latest Nelson DeMille or Robert B. Parker or John Sandford novel. Same for non-fiction, and Alexandra Robbins is worth coming back to.
I found her through her book on college girls. I'm not even sure if Robbins still writes for the NYT after publishing "Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities", a book that will strike fear & trembling into the heart of every father of a matriculating daughter. (If you're a college-age guy, of course, you're road-tripping to SMU or you're trying out those IM names.) Someday I'll get around to reading Robbins' Skull & Bones book about Ivy League power conspiracies. These days I think she spends most of her time at conferences or media appearances, and being hugely photogenic doesn't hurt. She talks to a lot of people and she tends to have her finger on the pulse of demographic trends.
Her latest book follows up on her five-year-old "Quarterlife Crisis". She updates us on some of the people from that first book (which now I no longer need to read) and she also shares the wisdom of people who've gone through a similar crisis. It's not earth-shattering: "What if I don't know what I want?", "What if I don't get what I want by the age I thought I'd get it?", "How do I know if I'm dating The One?", "Will I always hate work?", "Should I go back to school?", "How do I stop comparing myself to other people?", and "What do I do if my life seems meaningless?"
What's different is that each chapter sets up the question through the story of someone who's struggling to deal with it, and then tells the tales of three or four people who worked through that situation a year or two earlier. The lessons are summarized and a couple other helpful steps are suggested. She's not preaching at us-- she's telling us how other people have solved that problem in several different ways. Other problems can't be solved and can only be lived with.
The voyeurism is captivating, as well as a good dose of schadenfreude, and the advice is practical. It's a fast read on the back lanai with a frosty beverage. What I really appreciate is the theme of the solutions, which is mostly "Relax. You're trying too hard and you're making yourself crazy. Don't worry so much, have a little fun, give it some time, and you'll recognize the answer when you see it."
It's not only a comfort to 20-somethings, but it also helps you understand their frame of mind if you're mentoring someone in that age group (or anyone in a similar crisis). Quarter-life crises can be laughed off as drama-queen angst, but that won't help solve a very real problem that's causing a good bit of pain for someone.
It also reminds me of the 20-40-60 rule: At age 20, your life revolves around an obsession of what others think of you. At 40, you begin to not care what others think of you. And at 60, you realize that no one was paying any attention to you in the first place.
Hey, Trombone Al, your daughter might appreciate the sorority book along with this one. Not that you're trying to send any messages or give her any crazy ideas, of course.
Next up: Andy Kessler's "How We Got Here". I hugely enjoyed his "Wall Street Meat" and "Running Money." He may look like Steve Carrell of "The Office" sitcom, but Kessler has a brain and he's not afraid to use it. Good writing.
The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.