Existential crisis? Join the club!


Today I read that I am not as unique as I perhaps thought I was. Here was I thinking that my increasingly sombre mood and neurotic preoccupation with work, life and the meaning of it all, was my burden to bear and mine alone.

Turns out that such a conceit is nothing more than the typical behaviour of the 30 something generation to which I belong.

It seems that I am not alone in my search to find the perfect life/work balance. So hurrahs all round there then ……..?

Still, while my hopes of uniqueness may now be dashed, there is some comfort to be had from the fact that many people out there are experiencing the same vague exasperation as me.

For a long while I tried to ignore it and to look at all the tremendous things in my life. My job was, on the whole, pretty good. It paid well, the days were varied enough, there were opportunities to travel, my colleagues were funny and interesting and came from all over the world and, to top it all, I was working for a large international NGO, so everything I was doing was for a “good cause”.

So what was up with me then? Why did I have to drag myself into work day after day? Where did this sense of a total lack of accomplishment come from? When and why did I start with all this whingeing?

Perhaps it is my generation. We do want everything to be perfect. We have this dream vision of the world. A tendency to imagine our “ideal” lives, basing our expectations on a whole host of “lifestyle choices” thrown at us by the media, corporations, trendsetters.

“This is how we should be” we think to ourselves, without being entirely sure if we believe it.

And when these expectations are not met, when our lives fail to live up to our expectations I think we tend to collapse. To sink into some existential crisis of our own making.

We moan and wail at everything and nothing in particular. We go on dumb spending sprees hoping a new ipod will cure our ills. We set off on increasingly adventurous holidays in the naive hope that such travel will expand our horizons, make us interesting people, give us something to talk about back home at dinner parties. We quit our jobs in one last show of defiance and independence, racing off into the distance to go “find ourselves”.

Are we brave in doing so or just spoiled and pampered fools?

I honestly don’t know. How can I? After all I am one of these creatures. I too have handed in my office pass and mobile phone this week in one last ditch attempt to discover just what it is I really want out of this life.

In doing so it appears I am merely following the pattern of my generation. My last attempt at independence is, it seems, just a typical 30 something’s reaction to life, love, the universe and everything.

In seeking freedom I am nothing more than one of the crowd. One day the irony of this will hit me I’m sure. Just not today though…..

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