Quarter Life Crisis


The world is broken up into 3 parts: that which moves, that which is moved and that which cannot be moved. You get the movers and the shakers of the world, you get the people who are influenced and then you get the people who are stuck in their comfort zones.

This post isn’t about a quarter life crisis

It’s about the environments and cicumstances that create them. We go through different stages in life but aren’t that aware of the trends around us affecting us at the time. I’d like to call them ‘life trends’ because they are stages in life where everyone follows a pattern.

The first birthday, then nursery school, primary school, high school, sweet sixteenth, legal to drink alcohol at 18 (although you’ve probably been drunk even before that time), get your driver’s license, pass matric, go to university, get a job, find a partner, get married, have kids – and the cycle starts again. We’re supposed to have accomplished certain things at different stages in our lives, but who said so? Nobody told you to follow the trend. Most people just do.

The song Everything is Awesome! from The Lego Movie, perfectly explains the concept regarding people following trends and how sometimes we just do what everyone else is doing, without questioning it.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point offers readers an insightful look at how trends are sparked and take off.

A tipping point, as defined by Gladwell, is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”. Gladwell continues, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do”. According to Gladwell, only a handful of people are required, in order to spark a trend. He identifies these people as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen:

  • Connectors are the people who know large numbers of people in different circles. They make introductions which otherwise might never have occurred.
  • Mavens accumulate knowledge and help others make informed decisions. They are people who connect us with new information.
  • Salesmen are charismatic persuaders who have the ability to influence others’ buying decisions and behaviors, because of their exceptional negotiation skills.

“She said yes!” is a major trend in my Facebook news feed at the moment. This isn’t just an online trend though, it’s a life trend. The world around me is telling me it’s trendy to get married and have kids at the age of 25.

I frequently interact with at least 4 pregnant ladies at the moment. Two little girls I know of born recently are named Hannah. After the Twilight movie franchise there were a bunch of babies named Bella, Edward and Jacob. I have a friend who knows a baby actually called Renesmee. (I know, right?)

You may think that what you wear, what you buy and what you eat is your choice. But you are actually influenced by everything that goes on around you and something or someone influenced you to follow a certain trend. We don’t necessarily realise it, but consider this: Did you buy that car because you needed it or because you wanted it? Was it because someone recommended it or did it claim to be faster or more luxurious or value for money? Well that’s where advertising plays its part. Although advertising may spark trends, advertising itself is also influenced by them.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada’ is an all round feel good movie about a naive young woman, Andy Sachs, who comes to New York and lands the much sought after dream job as assistant to the ruthless and cynical Miranda Priestly; one of the city’s biggest magazine editors.

Here’s an excerpt from the film that makes you think twice about fashion:

Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?

Andy Sachs: No. No, no. Nothing’s… You know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I’m still learning about all this stuff and, uh…

Miranda Priestly: ‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff. – source

You think the hipster trend just came out of nowhere? Well, for a period of time, the only glasses frames you could buy were big and bold. Also during that period of time, the clothing shops were only stocking and punting skinny jeans. Indie musicians such as Alt-J, Bastille, Birdy, The Lumineers and Lana Del Rey became more popular – because people living busy, noisy lives want soothing, feel good listening. These listeners were influenced by the relaxed attitudes and interesting hairstyles of these musicians and voilà: the hipster trend was born.

You can even view real time Twitter trends around the globe here and when funny trends become memes, look no further than this site.

Life trends are indirect societal pressures that we need to be more aware of because they influence everything from what we wear to how we feel. I may not always be feeling the pressure, but I’m certainly observing it around me. I believe things will happen in good time, if or when the time is right.

My current concerns are far from thoughts about marriage; I’ve already had a quarter life crisis regarding more important aspects of my life, like appreciating the family I already have. The only serious relationship I’m focusing on right now, is my relationship with God. It’s a daily struggle and often the most difficult relationship for me. Then again, there are those who would argue that religion as well, is only just a trend.

(Edited and republished. Originally posted on my old blog: Peaches and Pie)


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