When college is too fun...
October 21, 2006 6:14 PM   Subscribe

How did you get through your quarter-life crisis/post-college angst?

I did the search and read the previous thread on quarter-life crisises, but mine has a different enough flavor that it really wasn't all that helpful. In the other thread, the crisis took the form of wanting to travel and be free of responsibility, these aren't my problems. My problem is, in essence, the downsizing of one's social circle that I've been told is inevitable with getting older. I had a large circle of friends in college, many of us lived in the same apartment complex, and we were always together. Now, I've moved to go to law school and I commute fairly far to go (boyfriend's job is far in the other direction) and I'm having trouble with not being able to just call people to hang out any ol' time I want to. There are law school friends, but they're new and not that close, emotionally or distance-wise. To make matters worse, most of my college friends haven't moved away from our college town and so they don't really know how I'm feeling.
To answer questions I can see coming a mile away:
I live with my boyfriend, this is working out swimmingly and I love him to pieces, but I'm used to a wide social circle.
We've kind of looked around for stuff we can do to expand our social circle where we live, but it seems like everything is designed for people older than us (we live in a rich suburb of LA.)

Anyway, tips on how to deal with this, or books/movies/etc that deal with it would be appreciated! I apologize if my question isn't particularly clear, its hard to put into words how I feel.
posted by wuzandfuzz to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Which suburb?

Might it be worth moving somewhere more hip/urban?
posted by rbs at 6:23 PM on October 21, 2006

Response by poster: Calabasas, I don't know if you can even call it a suburb...maybe a suburb of a suburb? We can't move now for a lot of reasons, including my boyfriend's job in Camarillo and me going to USC. We'll consider it next year, but unless he gets a new job it'd still have to be somewhere in the valley.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 6:30 PM on October 21, 2006

Good vibes for surviving it - I had mine a few years back and got through. Now I've only got my biological clock and mid-life crises to look forward to. ;)

All kidding aside, I read 3 or 4 books (the top ones on Amazon after searching for quarter life crisis) which helped me feel less alone.

Be glad that you have your boyfriend! Try to join some sort of volunteer group, team sport, or something else that may get you guys out a little bit more.

I found that after my post-college shock of not having a gazillion pals around that I was able to make BETTER friendships with a few couples (very often) with whom my boyfriend and I could hang out with together. We often made friends 5-8 years older than me, but as long as we were all sans babies (or at least the majority of us), had similar disposable (or lack there of) incomes, and some free time, it all worked out.

I also am in a new city with my boyfriend, only new school friends (and he only new work friends), and we've enjoyed getting to know each other better and keeping in contact with old friends via e-mail or IM.

Good luck!
posted by k8t at 6:39 PM on October 21, 2006

Oh, and I also got really busy by getting a part time job at a test prep company -- lots of interaction, some social life, and extra money!
posted by k8t at 6:40 PM on October 21, 2006

Well I was going to suggest going back to school, btu it looks like you've got that covered. Law school should take care of this to be honest, that first year tends to throw you together pretty closely.

Other than that you really need to start being proactive. I would suggest first inviting people out more. Trust me, everyone is in pretty much the same spot as you. Somebody has to take that first step and throw ideas out there. Might as well be you, plus that way you can pick the people who come, which at least in your law school circle means weed out the toolboxes.

you also need to be proactive in activities. I know i went out and found places to play ball, did some reading stuff at the local library, volunteered on a local political campaign, etc... Just start doing stuff you think is fun, and the type of people you want to be around tend to follow.

If possible become a regular at a local bar/restaraunt. Bartenders and waiters always know what's going on, and if you're nice they'll help you have fun.

Finally, keep in close contact with your old friends. There's a reason they're your friends, might as well hang on to them.
posted by sorindome at 6:42 PM on October 21, 2006

Best answer: If the other thread you referred to didn't mention it, a good place to have this conversation would be at the forums at quarterlifecrisis.com. It's comforting to read about people having your exact same problems. It sort of makes you realize that you're not personally deficient and rather are a... participant in social currents that are larger than you. You might get some good ideas there.

The thing you're suffering from acutely I think can be called "loss of community". For me it was awful coming out of college. At school I couldn't walk out my front door without bumping into lots of people I knew. They were everywhere and most of my time was spent hanging out with lots of friends who also had lots of leisure time. That was probably why I loved school so much. Moving to a new city afterwards with just my one roomie was terrible. From people everywhere to people nowhere. Nobody at work my age, job sucked. The bar scene seemed like the closest thing to the formerly ubiquitous college parties, but were a poor substitute, filled with people I didn't know. It was tough coming to grips with that.

It gets better after a while, after you sort of get your sea legs, but it can take a very long time, and that can seriously affect you. I'm not sure it'll ever be like it was before, which is sad. But you grow into your new life after a while.

This is hard. I'm sorry you're going through it. Good luck.
posted by kookoobirdz at 6:43 PM on October 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

Hey, my husband is from Calabasas! I always thought it would be a kind of hard place to live unless your friends were already all in the West Valley (his best friend is, we're in Seattle). His best friend has actually rated possible girlfriends as "geographically undesirable" if they lived in South Bay.

Where is your college town?
posted by GaelFC at 7:02 PM on October 21, 2006

How far away are you from a more "city-like" area?Is there a local artsy-fartsy paper that is printed for the area? If so keep an eye out for events that you might be interested in...gallery openings, live music at a local bar/coffeeshop, release parties for bands you might like, etc....and don't be afraid to go ALONE!

I was in a similar situation once. I am a female, probably about your age, just moved to a new city...not looking to meet anyone in the dating sense, and would head out to a small club to go dancing, or go listen to some jazz at a bar...I met some great people, that I still connect with regularly.

Just have some common street sense and be aware of your surroundings.
posted by engling at 7:04 PM on October 21, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the advice so far, keep it coming!

And GaelFC, my college town was Davis, as college town as college towns can be.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 7:07 PM on October 21, 2006

My quarter life crisis had exactly the same flavour as yours. When I was in university, I was one of those people that "knows everyone", and even more people knew who I was. (I don't know how that happened actually, it just did;) and I really enjoyed having a thriving social life. When I graduated, I was in the same situation as you - i felt lonely, and isolated, and, I realise now, I was missing the 'thrill' of being socially in demand.

Seriously, it sucked. I didn't really do anything to make it better, and was actually pretty depressed for a while. (I didn't help that i also had a horrible boss, a roommate i was fighting with, and a shitty basement apartment, so it all sort of compounded itself).

In retrospect, though, the things that helped me get over it and move on were this:
- I realised that having fewer closer friends was so much more valuable than having 40 friends who were mostly just 'social' friends - ie people i had fun with, but who I would never be able to count on for true emotional support.
- I just came to 'accept' that having fewer friends was normal and okay, and didn't make me a 'loser'
- I eventually, slowly and over time, built up a network of new people: in a few years those new law school friends could end up being old law school friends

Also: find ye an ultimate frisbee league. It is the post-college friend-finder, and often creates a good broad social circle.

Good luck; it can suck but try (if its possible) to change your expectations. If you expect life to be like in college, you'll be disappointed. If you expect it to be like 'boring old adulthood', you'll be pleasantly surprised (because its not that boring.)
posted by Kololo at 7:12 PM on October 21, 2006

Hey, come on out to Hollywood and meet me at the Cat 'n Fiddle (Sunday's jazz night)! I'll give you some cigs to sneak back across the border into Calabasas with you. ;)

I have no real great advice, but I'm fascinated to hear an actual name put to this this phenomena. The first movie that springs to my mind about "quarter life crisis" would be Green. A neat little indie film.

Best of luck to you!
posted by Kloryne at 7:25 PM on October 21, 2006

It's only in the past 25 years that Calabasas has become a bedroom community; I went to horse camp out there.
posted by brujita at 8:24 PM on October 21, 2006

we live in a rich suburb of LA...Calabasas

my boyfriend's job in Camarillo

GAAAAHHHHH!!! No wonder you're having social problems. Seriously, the best advice I can give you is: MOVE AS FAR AWAY FROM VENTURA COUNTY AS YOU CAN. I truly cannot imagine a worse place for someone who's just graduated from college than Ventura County and Los Angeles County south of the 405 (aside from the city of Ventura, but that obviously wouldn't work for you). There's nothing in Calabasas but spoiled suburbanites and their drunken teenage offspring. VC is very diverse but post-grads are probably the most underrepresented demographic (and I really consider Agoura and Calabasas to be VC's snooty rich stepsisters).

Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

I'm in Oxnard.

Is there any chance your boyfriend could commute from, for example, Santa Monica? The closer you are to USC (and people your age), the easier it'll be to find a new social circle.
posted by granted at 9:43 PM on October 21, 2006

I neglected to emphasize that we're in pretty similar boats. I graduated in June and am focused on getting the hell out of here by February. The only pals I have around here are the people I went to high school and with who never left. The vast majority of them moved to Ventura or are still living at home.
posted by granted at 9:46 PM on October 21, 2006

Response by poster: Oh granted, you have no idea. I GREW UP in Oxnard. Nothing makes me sadder than to be back in socal. On second read, it looks like maybe you did too. Things are complicated because my boyfriend just got permission to get his driver's license (he's epileptic) but even when he has it I won't want him to drive very far to work. I too graduated in June, but because of law school I can't get the f*ck out of here for 2 1/2 more years.

posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:53 PM on October 21, 2006

Come to LA MeFi meetups! I have met some way cool people there and if you're lucky, Dashiv will be in town to snap a highly flattering pic of you.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:21 PM on October 21, 2006

posted by granted at 12:55 AM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

I spent high school in Davis, so I can see how transplanting to the wilds of suburban LA, sadly bereft of bike paths, bike cops, and those cool bike-level street crossing signals, would be hard to adjust to.

I would say that the challenge is transitioning from seeing yourself as "in school" (with the attendant focus on social life) to "in career" (with your energy going to work and maintaining those social ties that really nourish you -- it's quality, not quantity). Basically, getting through the quarterlife crisis is about accepting that adulthood is about work and family, and figuring out how to do those two things in a way that makes you happy. (Family can include close friends!)

I could see how law school might complicate things, especially if you went straight from undergrad to law school instead of taking some time off. (When I went to law school, I had been out in the "real world" for 3-4 years, so I really wanted to be back in school and had a lot of direction that got me through all the 1L hazing.) So, I'd say that if you want to add new people and activities to your life, focus on law school -- study harder, join a clinic, start doing volunteer pro bono work, get an internship, whatever. The experience is really going to help you down the line figuring out what you want out of your legal career, and when you hit your 30%lifecrisis in five-six years, you'll be all set because you'll be doing work you like rather than being one of those depressed angry lawyers.
posted by footnote at 6:48 AM on October 22, 2006

Start buying the Friday paper and look through it for four or five weird things to do every week. Do at least two of them. Getting out and doing strange or unusual things is one of the best ways to really enjoy life.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:06 AM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Most of my friends who attended law school found that there were regular social events - keep a lookout for something like that.

Also, on a larger scale, remember that you no longer have that built-in network that comes with a college campus; that's just the way things are. Check the papers and online for social groups you could be a part of, or local events that appeal to you. A wine-tasting event at a local restaurant might be a way to find people with similar interests, for instance, or a women-only kickboxing class at the law school's gym might be a way to meet people.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 8:34 AM on October 23, 2006

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