Is my 24-year-old daughter having a midlife crisis? I was a single parent who went without so she could attend a private high school that turns out driven students. She finished her bachelor’s in three years and then was accepted at another prestigious university for her master’s degree. She was just accepted into a Ph.D. program, but now wants nothing to do with the field she chose. Back home now, she is either on the computer in her locked bedroom, at bars with friends until all hours or on long runs alone. She seems depressed, but talks about traveling and couch surfing. Is she OK?
Midlife crisis mourns the passing of youth and the beginning of maturity. Some people surrender into it and others resist by growing immature: dumping their spouse, buying a sports car, logging hours in tanning booths and hitting on people half their age. Your daughter is simply burned out from living life as a destination—the “I’ll be happy when [fill in the blank]” rather than the “life is a journey” mindset. Our culture loves to frighten teenagers with stories of how they will be failures if they do not get accepted into a high-ranking university and secure a degree. This succeeds in teaching teens (who grow into young adults like your daughter) how to motivate themselves through fear. At some point, the illusion shatters and people crash. Many return home, seeking to be free from adult responsibilities. So, tell your daughter that she must meet twice monthly with a psychotherapist or a career counselor. It’s best if she pays for these appointments with her own funds and signs a written agreement with you to that end. The agreement should include any household chores with which you expect her to assist. Remember, you are teaching her how to take care of herself. Don’t be milquetoast.
I scored a job after graduation, but now I am completely stressed. In school, I always got my work completed early. Now, I struggle with managing my inbox, plus answering my e-mails daily in a timely manner as expected by my boss. There also are so many rules, such as no eating at your desk and no personal calls. I am not sure now to handle this.
School is steeped in rules, so you already know how to color inside the lines. If you are chafing against directives at work, allow more unscheduled personal time in the evenings and during weekends. Then, during the workweek, recreate—if only in your own mind—the structure of a school day. If your favorite college class was 45 minutes, break your workday into similar chunks. If you have to deliver something to a colleague, want to grab coffee or use the copier, do it “between classes,” if possible. Treat your e-mails like a computer game. Each answered e-mail lands you 2 points, unanswered minus 1. At week’s end, call your voice mail and say something sweet about your progress. You’ll love hearing the good news Monday morning.
My boyfriend has lots of female friends, all former dates, although not necessarily former girlfriends. Still, they are all women he was interested in at some point. Should I be worried?
I’m trying to be less of a worrier, so I can’t recommend the practice to you. Instead, try emotional intimacy with your man. Let him know you are insecure, but that you do not expect him to ditch his gal pals. Then, check in with yourself and determine if he has given you any reason not to trust him. If not, you can be assured that this is old material from a previous relationship. Use the process found at www.thework.com, so you can be fully committed now.