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The 5 People You'll Encounter During Your Quarter-Life Crisis

Well, it finally happened. After 21 years on the magic school bus, you're finally done.

You've spent one (or two, or three) months in a post-graduation, relaxation haze, binge-watching “Friends,” dying your hair magenta, finally biting the bullet and grabbing a few piercings because that one girl in psych said you'd look cute with a septum.

You think your sleep schedule is finally back where it should be (sleeping until 11 is fine; you're making up for lost time, remember?), and you're really starting to get what that Fun song, “We Are Young” is all about.

Then, one day, you wake up and realize you're an adult now. What do you do?

Panic.

Luckily, you're not alone. There are thousands of post-grads struggling right alongside you. Here are the five you're guaranteed to meet:

1. The Grown-Up

Open Facebook, and you'll see these people. They're the ones who have the gorgeous new apartments, the fancy cars and the sky-high salaries you would kill for, until you remember you didn't go to school for advanced business journalism (but wouldn't it be great, if you had?).

Every time you make plans to hang out, they show up in suits or pencil skirts because, of course, while you're praying you don't still have Cheeto dust on your jeggings, they're coming straight from that nine-to-five.

Once they're done being your excuses to drink your feelings, they're off to their palaces (which have hot tubs and gyms, on-site?) because they can afford that sort of thing.

What You Can Learn From Them:

If you're feeling deficient by comparison, remember that everyone is different.

Maybe your friend landed a fabulous job and an awesome fiancé, but you're doing things with your time, too, and even if you're not, you're getting great material for that memoir on which you'll someday make bank.

Sure enough, when the moment's right, you'll find your Patrick Dempsey/Katherine Heigl and, more importantly, your dream job. The Grown-Up is living proof that it's possible.

Feel free to be jealous, but don't be bitter; your friend deserves to hear you say you're happy for him or her and mean it. If you really can't get over the haves and the have-nots, you have the perfect motivation to get to work, sitting right across the table.

Still, the more the Grown-Up talks about how much he or she loves adult life, the more you'll want to crawl up in your Snuggie and watch “Gilmore Girls.” And, you might feel that way until you meet…


2. The Underdog

Finally, more slackers with whom to commiserate your lack of accomplishment! Their inability to commit to adult life will lift your spirits instantly because, at last, you'll know there are other people out there who lack purpose and direction.

The more you hang out, the more you'll feel like a Blink-182 song; there's no subtle judgment, no offers to help you find a job because, “Really, it's so easy, once you get the hang of it.”

Best of all, there's nothing whatsoever to be jealous of… except, maybe the fact that these people spent seven hours playing Mario Kart last night because their dad wasn't sending them links Craigslist and Monster links.

What You Can Learn From Them:

Taking some time to unwind is important and having a co-conspirator in planlessness can be great. Still, if you're not careful, you could get so comfortable that you'll both end up in limbo land.

Maybe The Grown-Up achieved a crazy level of success in an unrealistic amount of time, but it's just as unrealistic to hide in your blanket cocoon forever.

While it would be nice to call yourself a Professional Ben & Jerry's Inspector or Freelance “Agent Carter” Watcher, this kind of life will get old fast.

Maybe The Underdog has a few more years of “Doctor Who” to catch up on but, even if it feels good to live the “Lazy Song,” even Bruno Mars says he'll get going on that P90X/sex/degree thing tomorrow.

When post-grad life gets stressful, you'll know who to call for a pick-me-up. Just remember, whatever it is you want, procrastinating can only get you so far.

Still, it's a good idea to take some time to figure out what's actually on your bucket list. If you don't, you could end up like…


3. The Disappearing Act

You'll run into people like this early on. It's the old friend or former roommate with whom you always got along, but haven't seen in a while.

Like the Underdog, they'll have no immediate ideas for the future, but they'll have dreams and, almost always, these dreams with coincide with yours.

You'll make grand plans for an apartment in Astoria with a sunflower on the fire escape and a three-legged cat.

You'll even agree what to name her when you discover that, miraculously, you have the same favorite character on “Gossip Girl.”

You'll go home feeling good about yourself; you'll even break out the old cover letter template and send some off to the Big Apple because, take that, Dad — you finally have a plan.

It'll be great… until, a week later, you find out your savior is thinking of joining the Peace Corps or fulfilling his or her “lifelong dream” of moving to Gallup, New Mexico.

“Sorry,” this person will say, “my plans changed.” As you drown your unrealized dreams in pistachio gelato, you'll watch his or her “post-grad goals” statuses change again and again, until it gives you whiplash.

What You Can Learn From Them:

Dream-destroyer or not, your friend is right: Plans change. People shouldn't commit to something of which they are unsure and, even if living with friends in Atlantic City or Los Angeles sounds like a blast, it's important to understand what you want.

During this part of your life, it's okay to be selfish. It's one thing if people depend on your promise to pay rent, but until that's set in stone, no one can rely on a one-time conversation or a “Wouldn't it be cool if…?” text.

It's messy, but so is everything once you reach adulthood. Unless, of course, you find…


4. The Fountain Of Youth

We all experience nostalgia, but for people like this, nostalgia is a way of life. Almost every time you hang out, this person will turn on “Hey Arnold” or “The Rugrats” and pop a tray of dinosaur chicken nuggets in the oven.

They're your go-to girls or boys for any pre-One Direction boy-band trivia, and you can spot them from a mile away with their multi-hashtagged “You Know You're a 90s Kid If…” posts.

To them, adulthood is a state of being and they're pulling a total Peter Pan.

Like the Disappearing Act, they're not sure what they want from life, but as long as they've got their Smacker's lip gloss and jelly bracelets, they're A-OK with waiting until Danny Tamberelli gets slimed again to — wait for this mad pun — “Figure It Out.”

What You Can Learn From Them:

Call this friend when you need to borrow a retro t-shirt, but not necessarily when you're making huge, life-defining plans.

It's 100 percent necessary, healthy, even, to reflect on the “good old days” every once in a while, but there are some pretty great things about adulthood, too.


5. The Rock

I'm not talking about Dwayne Johnson here; the Rock is the person who's been right there beside you through this awful, wonderful, disgusting, panic-inducing trip into the real world.

She's the one sitting next to you when you meet up with The Grown-Up, brushing the Cheetos off so you don't look like an idiot, and he's the one who's there at four in the morning when you realize you really do want to try your luck in Seattle or spend another three years in grad school.

He or she is the perfect mix of adult and child, who's just as happy to swap martini recipes as favorite “Lizzie McGuire” episodes.

This person knows, without you having to say a thing, when it's time to get on your ass about applications or when it's time to back off.

He or she might be your best friend since middle school, your mom, your dad, your little brother or someone you barely knew in college.

People like this are hard to find but, once you've got them, stick with 'em. Life can get hard sometimes — especially once you trade your popcorn shirt for a cap and gown — but it's a little easier when you're holding on to each other.

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Erin Arata

Contributor

Erin Arata is an Emerson grad who enjoys chubby cats, superheroes, and using her finger as a spoon to eat guacamole while on the phone with prospective employers. She has been writing fiction for 75% of her life and living nonfiction for 100%.
Erin Arata is an Emerson grad who enjoys chubby cats, superheroes, and using her finger as a spoon to eat guacamole while on the phone with prospective employers. She has been writing fiction for 75% of her life and living nonfiction for 100%.

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