Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Quarterlife What?

– Contributed by Wee C

About 10 years ago, during my first degree (hush, all you youngin’s, I don’t want to hear it), I remember first hearing the term “Quarterlife Crisis”. It was used as a novelty. As if that guy in my world politics class had made it up himself. He used it in reference to himself in an effort to explain his lack of personal hygiene, his equal lack of personal direction, and his inability to complete his assignments. He was in despair and unable to focus. And, predictably, he was preoccupied with running away to Greece.

At the time, I remember being annoyed by the term. I saw it as an excuse for a lack of discipline, as a way to give yourself a free pass to just piss off and excuse yourself from life’s endless responsibilities. I readily passed judgment on those who subsequently used the term in my presence, wondering why they needed to label their inability to “show up” and just do what needed to get done. Couldn’t they just call themselves lazy and be done with it? Why did we need a trend, a movement, or worse, a new psychological term that would inevitably make its way into Psych 101 courses 10 years from then (I haven’t checked, but I have a sneaking suspicion)? It all felt a little self-indulgent, and frankly, a little too easy.

And today, it seems that guy from class was onto something. Oh, he’s probably still living it up on the beaches in Greece, wearing togas and barely grooming his mile-long beard, so he may not know the trend he started. But it seems pervasive. Overwhelming, even. I rarely engage in a conversation with a 20- or 30-something who doesn’t share sentiments of the Quarterlife Crisis. All desperate to do something more. See more, experience more, live more.

My disgust with the term had long-since caused me to reject its application in my own life. You see, the notion that I would accept anything less than President and CEO was not even an option. A Quarterlife Crisis would only hinder my rocket-like climb to the top.

But in the midst of this rapid ascent, hints of doubt have consistently crept in. Voices telling me to quit my job and run away to Europe. Consistent thoughts of selling homemade Italian pasta and sauces from the back of an old delivery truck. Multiple mornings where the idea of getting out of bed was so paralyzing that even thinking about it simply perpetuated the problem. And still, I refused to embrace the term; like a character from Harry Potter, afraid to utter the name that cannot be spoken.

Having experienced these sentiments, there is, now, no doubt in my mind that for my generation and the next, this time in life is the one that both enables and demands the greatest amount of self-reflection. We are constantly challenging ourselves to question our level of fulfillment and to make changes as required. We are quitting our jobs and moving to other continents to pursue our dreams. We’re abandoning convention and changing the rules. We’re opening yoga studios. We’re pushing ourselves and others to reject the status quo, to view it as a poison that must be banished. We’re taking on local and global issues, dismissing corporate jobs for those that can legitimately change the world. We are changing everything. We are making our own rules.

And so, with that context in mind, I go back to my original sentiment around the notion of a Quarterlife Crisis to see whether anything has change. I’ve shared in the sentiments that seem to define the term, surely I can now embrace it? And yet, somehow, surprisingly, I still feel the same disgust and annoyance for the term. It makes me want to swat it like a house fly and knock it on its behind.

After much reflection, I’ve concluded that I loathe the term because WE ARE NOT IN A CRISIS. We’re simply being overly dramatic, looking for attention. There are no babies bleeding here, people. We are in the most opportunistic period of both our lives and, in my opinion, history. The sense of being overwhelmed, of not knowing what we want to do, of wanting to do everything and nothing within the same day…that’s not a crisis. It barely even qualifies as an issue on the Crisis Management scale. It’s the fear of making the wrong choice with all these options that incites a sense of crisis. But why, if we all want to be so damn free, are we choosing to label this period in our life in a way that applies hypothetical handcuffs? This is freedom at its finest, and yet we need to be all melodramatic about it. Really? Really? Can we all just pull ourselves together?

For those of you who have embraced the term, please don’t feel insulted. Fundamentally, I agree with you. Our 20s and 30s are confusing. We have so many options. And perhaps worse than that is the knowledge that with every option we accept, many other options (perhaps equally desirable) are completely eliminated from our lives. It’s no wonder that we’re skitzy and fearful. But surely we can better-articulate this? Surely we can reposition this phenomenon as a positive, thereby reframing the conversation and potentially the outcome? Surely to heavens we’re not all in such dire states that it warrants a term reserved for only the most desperate situations?

Frankly, I don’t much care its new name is, as long as it articulates possibility and hope, and that the way we think about it changes. Wouldn’t you rather be in the midst of embracing your Quarterlife Freedom (for example) than dealing with a crisis? And if it’s the latter, pack your bags and get your ass to any Third World country. You can have your crisis there.

Those Lovely Lady Lumps (and #14 of 30)

– Contributed by Wee C

There's one at every wedding...sadly this time it was me.

“I describe my look as a blend of Mother Goose, Cinderella, and the local hooker. ” – Dolly Parton

Let’s talk about boobs, shall we? Breasts, ta-tas, my lovely lady lumps. I don’t much care what you call them. In my world, they’re boobs…because they genuinely make me feel like one.

Now, don’t get all offended. I, too, am a modest fan of these two mounds of fatty flesh that seem to have no other role than to obnoxiously attract the other sex, feed a hungry infant, or firmly (well, only if you’re young and perky or have implants) define the female body. They do, however, serve the important purpose of making me feel definitively womanly, so I’ll give them that much.

But for a part of the anatomy that really has a secondary purpose (they’re not saving lives here people), they get an awful lot of credit that I don’t believe they deserve. Think about it this way, if they were personified as a friend in your life, they would be fat, lazy, seasonally employed (if that) and they would attract unwelcome attention to you and your other friends. Oh, yeah, and they’d always be just hanging around and they’d never look you in the eye. Not really the type of person you want to have attach themselves to you, eh? The cheesy puns are running fast and loose today, folks.

So why the heck do I care about them enough to dedicate an entire blog post to them? Well, I find myself talking and thinking about boobs an awful lot. Oh, please, get your mind out of the gutter. But for someone who really has a love/hate relationship with this part of the anatomy, they do, indeed, preoccupy a good deal of my thinking. Here’s why:

1. I blossomed early in life. I had boobs (and serious ones) before nearly any of my friends had them. It was a fact that went unnoticed by few, I can assure you. Not exactly the kind of attention any girl that age is seeking. Or at least not the demure, respectable ones.

As a result, my affinity for turtlenecks quickly…blossomed. I’ve been managing “the girls”, keeping them reined in for as long as I can remember. Since the pre-teen days, I’ve been selecting my wardrobe accordingly, avoiding the deadly button-up shirt (I’ve popped out and shown the goods more times and in more inappropriate situations than I would ever like to recount). Through my teenage and university years, I refused to wear v-neck shirts. And while I often wore tight-fitting shirts, my fear of cold weather and, ahem, catching a chill, was pervasive. So, my well-endowed chest has been influencing my wardrobe decisions on a daily basis for as long as I’ve cared about how I dress. And I’ll tell you what. When a fashion trend comes in that the girls ruin because they make me look like a hooker, their stock goes WAY down with me.

2. About a year and a half ago my mom was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. And in the past three years has had six biopsies. That’s right, six long needles with a hook on the end being jabbed about her misbehaving boobs. The stress that those darned girls have induced on her is infuriating. Going back to the discussion about personification…my mom’s boobs are like the kind of friend who moves into your house uninvited and does something stupid like accidentally leaves the water running in the bathtub and floods the place. And, yet, despite your anger, you still have a soft spot for them, knowing that if they were gone altogether, there would be a dramatic and unsettling void.

It was my mom’s experience that prompted me to sign up for Bust a Move, a new fundraiser in Halifax in support of breast health. Disclosure: it didn’t hurt that this monsterous event was also the first thing on Big L’s list of 30 things.

So, here I am raising money for a part of the anatomy that I’m luke warm towards at best, rallying to protect and nurture them, to keep them safe and healthy. And doing it felt great. Because, frankly, it wasn’t about the boobs, it was about the people in those boobs’ lives. The goal was to raise $1,000. I raised $3,000 and happily put the event (exercising for six consecutive hours) as #14 on my list of 30 things.

3. The bloody things misbehave at the most inappropriate times. About a week ago I traveled from one side of the country to the other to stand in a dear friend’s wedding. She was kind enough to allow her bridesmaids to select and order their own dresses, which theoretically meant that we would pick a dress that suited our body types, thereby looking lovely and appropriate in all of the lifetime-lasting wedding photos. Theoretically. Lifetime-lasting. The moral of this story is becoming quickly evident, yes?

So, I order a dress that I love. It’s strapless with a cute little belt. And I know better…no strapless dress, with the exception of my wedding dress, has ever offered the support I need to get through the day. But my ever-optimistic self ignores the nagging voice in the back of my head and proceeds anyway. Mistake #1: strapless dress.

When the dress arrives, it’s a bit too big, so I march myself to the tailor to have it taken in (quite delighted with myself that I need to have this done, of course). “Tuck me in as tight as you can. These girls have strength, power and weight you can’t even imagine,” I cheekily tell the tailor. Mistake (and life lesson) #2: a tight fitting strapless dress is a bustier (read: a ledge for your boobs to lay upon and sun themselves), not Spanx.

I then take it upon myself to farm myself a little tan before the wedding, thinking that a golden glow would be a nice complement to my beautiful cobalt blue dress. But if there is a beauty or “looks” disaster to happen to someone, it will be me. Why I considered tanning with a tank top on is beyond me, but I did, and surprise, surprise, I had tan lines. Mistake #3: do I really need to spell it out?

In true Wee C fashion, I pick the dress up the day before we fly out (mistake #4), realize that it may be a smidge snug, but depart for the west coast reasonably unconcerned. Until I actually need to wear the thing. Look, all the right factors were in place: a beautiful colour, a really cute design, and an event that was worthy of such a party dress. Except one factor: it took two bridesmaids to pour me into that dress. No, really, picture the fat skin on my back folding in an effort to desperately get the thing zipped up past my boobs.

Now, I could go on at length about the day and evening and me in my party dress and all the looks I received. But here’s what I’ll tell you. It was a truly exquisite, Martha Stewart-esque wedding, but as with every wedding there’s always one girl with the boobs and that day, that girl was me. I pulled, twisted and tugged. I practically sucked myself inside out. I tried duct tape, and lots of it. Seriously. NOTHING worked. And over the course of the 10 hours I wore the dress, it just got worse. At one point, one of the other bridesmaids, who stood about eye level to my chest expressed fear that they would jump out and bite her. Oh, yes, and the tan lines? Not so bad when it’s just the straps, but when the dress is falling down to your belly button, the white ring that forms around your chest and shoulders is particularly charming. Need I refer you to the photo at the top? I truly fear for the expensive, professional, lifetime-lasting wedding photos that me and my boobs appear in. Appropriate I was not.

And, so my ongoing love/hate relationship with those lovely lady lumps continues. Some days I win, some days I lose. But truthfully, after having witnessed what my mother has been through, I’d rather go through life with them than without them. I just wish that they didn’t always need to be the life of every party.