Quarter-life crisis musings

September 12, 2023

by Jaeann Marañon

Times are tough, sure, but it can be tougher for the 20-something youth who are going through a quarter-life crisis – that period of uncertainty and deep soul-searching. To experience dismay and existential troubles is definitely not exclusive to adults and older people, but why does it seem to have reached crisis proportions today for the young adults who should be full of energy?

It is often said that the youth are the hope of the nation—being able to have the tenacity, vigor, and strength to inherit the current system and transform it for the better. But it seems that a lot of us these days have been subjected to a certain form of defeat – a 9-5 job that can only provide poverty wages (if we are lucky to even land one), higher prices of basic goods and services, lack of social services and protection, on top of strained family relationships and mental health problems.

Our political rights are also being attacked by none other than State forces. Recently, two youth fisherfolk organizers have been abducted in broad daylight in Bataan. They remain unsurfaced, along with other youth activists who have been forced disappeared of late. It all just seems so futile. It’s as if the “hope of the nation” is stuck in a rut, oppressed and silenced and is bogged down in ruin, with nothing but our parasocial relationships with celebrities, massive internet culture, alcohol, substances, and mere distractions to keep us company.

It’s easy to surrender to these conditions – after all, isn’t resisting hard enough? It takes sheer will and determination to go against all that is vile from the world capitalist order. How can you not participate in the ranks of exploited masses when we don’t have education for all, public healthcare, affordable housing and other social services in order to live decently? Resistance is villainized as well – whatever political spectrum you subscribe to as long as it is against the oppressive status quo, you are bound to be redtagged and face attacks from State forces. The conditions can be incredibly daunting, and we start to doubt our place in these troubled times.

But still we ask, what is to be done? While Reddit and Quora forums can give some advice and mindfulness techniques on how to get through the crisis, it most likely would not be enough. The society which harmed us will continue to harm us unless it systematically changes. But that doesn’t mean that all of our tribulations are for naught.

“Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle” – V.I Lenin

Hope is often portrayed as a double-edged sword, giving you optimism in times when it might not even be possible. But as the above quote from a great revolutionary implies, it’s very important to hold on to hope, but in a manner where we are grounded, scientific, and truthful. In the midst of socioeconomic, political and cultural crises, what makes the situation seem inextricable is that we think there is nothing for us out there. We only have to look around. These crises will definitely cause despair, but if we understand what causes them, we are able to know what we can do about our young lives. We can grow with a community that struggles to win the future we all deserve – robust lives, free, democratic, and with just and lasting peace that allows us to pursue our dreams.

Transitioning to the next life phase is indeed made more difficult by our already difficult social situation. But here I realize that at quarter life is a tremendous chance for growth. We are at the peak of studying our conditions and knowing solutions. We have ideals and we can demonstrate to our fellow youth as well as older generations that struggling against the horrid conditions of society doesn’t have to be an individual act. We can move together and find strength, solace and even love in our collective action.

It is not easy to struggle and hope. We might even have a hard time opening our eyes the moment consciousness wakes us. But from a struggling individual who is going through her quarter-life crisis to another young adult out there: we can always find ourselves in the causes we wage.