The Quarter-Life Crisis of Normality


Normality (n).

The condition of being normal, the state of being usual, typical, or expected.

Isn’t that the universal dream? Our lives becoming existentially predictable that we almost expect things to be a certain way? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wish I could sometimes expect when I’ll get a flat tire, speeding ticket, jury duty, that last phone call at work one minute before closing time, unexpected traffic jams on my way to work, or the like. The list is endless, really. But if everything had this overwhelming sense of normality, what would it mean for our sanity? I don’t know about you, but I’ve always favored the “I prefer a workplace to be spontaneous” rather than the “I prefer to know what’s going to happen at all times” answer during one of those application quizzes when applying for a job.

Normality is something of the American Dream. Actually, I’ll correct myself on that; I think all humanity wants pieces of normality in our lives. It’s exhausting to the soul having a steady bombardment of inconsistencies over and over again. Why do you think we buy homes? Start families? Get a job in the hopes we stay there for a couple years or more and move up? Our knowledge that life, by nature, is horrifically unpredictable makes us all minor (or major) control freaks.

I will admit openly that in my wildly unpredictable life, I scramble at times to find some piece of normalcy.

More and more, though, I find myself looking for a new normalcy; a fresh start, new “home base”, new experiences that differ from the past ones because they feel all too painful. I resent going to certain parts of Pittsburgh, my home for the past twenty-three years, because they remind me of people or times where happiness was free-flowing and careless. It’s a struggle, especially after hardships, to readjust and reform to a rapidly changing normal. Sometimes it feels like one massive responsibility that I never wanted.

I go to places a past love and I went to and find myself looking at the same spot we sat in/talked at/enjoyed while in the company of friends and others, feeling the gravity of that moment in time where I felt nothing but explicit happiness and love. I find myself stuck in the present moment where I’m struggling to juggle three knives: mourning, expectation, and happiness. While I mourn the memories and past happiness, I hold heavy expectation on myself to not always be caught in the riptide of sadness around people that bring me current happiness.

At the same time, if I didn’t have those memories and experiences, I wouldn’t be here writing this out into the great void of the Internet for all to have access to—to let you into my mind and release-share these pressuring feels.

Sometimes the reminder of abnormality hits me in unexpected places, as it did last night while I enjoyed fireworks with three friends of mine in downtown Pittsburgh.

We were close enough that I felt every explosion in my chest and reverberate throughout my rib cage. With each explosion, I was reminded of the past where things felt ‘normal’ and reminded me of this ‘new normal’ that I seek presently. That’s where my responsibility of reminding myself to be present in the happiness and company of others is so important. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s a slow process for me. Some of you might have this down a little sturdier than myself and I appreciate that. Others might not have this down at all, and I want to let you know I’m here for you every step of the way because the road is hard with a lot of speed bumps and road blocks—each unique to the next with their own set of rules to get past them.

There’s so much good music out right now and even though I’m looking to stay present in the small, scintillate pieces of happiness I come across, I’m listening to music that reminds me of past happiness. It’s not the sad-rip-your-heart-out-and-shut-the-world-out kind, but the kind where I’d travel alone to different cities, write adventurous stories, and think about the life-changing future I want for myself and the ones I love/know.

So, I’ll quote a song that is all about being wildly unsure of the future; whether it’s normal or abnormal, predictable or unpredictable, filled with happiness or struck with hardships. No matter what the future holds, stay in your present normality and feel the change around or accept the staleness of the present.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I know it’s going to be a long time. Cause I’ll be leaving in the morning with the white wine, bitter sunlight. I want to hear your Beating Heart, tonight. Before the bleeding sun comes to life. I want to make the best of what is left, hold tight. And hear my Beating Heart one last time. 

Song: Beating Heart by Ellie Goulding.

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