55 years ago, Holly Golightly called it the Mean Reds. I call it the earliest recorded case of a Quarter Life Crisis. “Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.” Sound familiar?
Maybe it’s just that point in the summer, when the air is too thick and makes everything hot and sticky, compounded with the hectic pace of peak season in Barcelona, but right now I feel stifled. Usually I would prescribe myself a quick weekend getaway. Nothing beats the blues of everyday monotony like exploring somewhere new. But as Ms. Golightly said, the blues are because you’re getting fat and it’s been raining too long. These are the Mean Reds, and I haven’t quite found my Tiffany’s.
What’s most frustrating about this frustration is that if I think about it, I have no reason to be unhappy. I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with an arguably very fun job and great work-life balance. So I should get over myself, right? Besides, why would anyone from our generation be unhappy anyway? Everything we could ever want is literally at our fingertips, one swipe away, from our next meal to tonight’s hookup.
But this myriad of choices can be absolutely overwhelming, to the point that sometimes it becomes easier to escape real life in favour of a Netflix-binge. I’ve found too much interaction with an inanimate device leads to urbanite ennui. Ironically, having the power to talk to anyone and everyone will never be a guarantee against loneliness. And it doesn’t help that these omnipresent screens bombard us with smiling selfies and perky hashtags, upping the pressure on us to out-fun each other.
Do we begrudge ourselves the right to be unhappy? Is it another feeling we’re afraid of catching? There are still plenty of reasons to be. With all this choice comes the constant fear we’re making the wrong ones, enter FOMO. Those of us with steady career paths, fewer and further between in this economy, wonder if there’s more out there, while those of us with itchy feet wonder if they’ll ever settle down, buy some furniture and give the Cat a name. The Mean Reds are now filtered through a blue light.
Maybe it’s okay when things aren’t picture-perfect. It’s okay to feel a little down and not seek an instant fix. Maybe the solution is to switch off, step away and reconnect.