20 something and confused

Ashok, is in his early twenties and works for an Indian software giant. He gets a good paycheck that he deserves for his thirty months work-exp. He left his first job and joined this new company a couple of months ago, with a reasonable hike in the salary. Life seems to be fine except in the moments of deep contemplation. He always tried to avoid those moments where he tried to understand or rather questioned the meaning of his life. Nevertheless the thoughts returned frequently.

He looks at his job and realizes what he is doing is not anywhere close to what he had thought when he was in the college studying Mechanical Engineering. But, the money in a software job lured him or rather lured his family. Thus, he joined the rat race which he started to hate now.

He started to realize that people are selfish. The friends he thought who are so close to him are actually not that close in reality and he started to miss his school days and college days. He could not understand why people at workplace are so selfish to win the rat race. He hates office politics.

Paradoxically, he feels secured and in-secured at the same time. The job seems to be secure, but now and then he thinks it is not that secure in reality. The global economic crisis added fuel to his thoughts.

He looks at other people who are doing better than him, mostly financially, and thinks why he is not doing well. He thinks it’s luck rather than his skills which matter. He never envies though.

When he was in college, life looked so beautiful with full of promises. But, like many others, he realizes that the reality is far away from the dream world.

Confusion prevails and clarity seems to elude. Is this what I want from my life? Going to a day job for the rest of my life. The same boring social interactions. Same everyday thoughts about financial security. Checking the share prices every morning. Maintaining the finances, loans, and EMIs. Occasional boozing on weekends at a teammate’s birthday party.

How to do something different from going to a day job? Should I think about getting an MBA from IIMs? Should I try some business ideas? Should I prepare for Civil Services Exams which I liked when I was in school? Should I shift my job into some other field than software? Should I marry now and get a taste of family-life? Whom should I marry? How to propose that girl? Should I pursue my hobby of playing guitar seriously? Should I run away and live a life that is completely new? What’s my identity?

What are my long term goals in life if there are any? Am I really bored and confused or is it a product of over-thinking? Why can’t I be like other people? Wait, are the other people thinking the same way as me?

I know I want to do something but how to find that something? Monday comes, weekend comes and one more Monday and one more weekend. Monotonous life. Let’s do something.

‘Enough’, he said to himself, and logged onto Gtalk to catch up with his friends.

‘Hey dude how are ya?’

‘I am fine, how ya, u coming for the party this weekend?’

‘Hmm.. yes.’


And life goes on as they say.


I am a 20something now and most of my friends are 20somethings. Though I have few good 40something friends.

Software engineer is only an example I have taken. No matter the job, this kind of confusion is common in young adults venturing into real world after college.

We (friends from my engineering college) meet once in a couple of months or so and have fun together. When we guys talk about life in general, the common thing we hear is:

life seems to be boring guys… I want to do something, you know man… something…

We discuss and debate the revolutionary ideas over a party on a weekend or over a phone call and leave those revolutions to their fate. And the next party and the next party. Few of my friends are happily married now and they have a new revolution to tackle at home :) (guys just kidding, don’t take it literally!)

I realized recently that there is a term to describe what the young adolescents go through when they enter the real world after graduation/college. It is called Quarter-life Crisis. You can visit the Wikipedia link to know more about it.

For me, the term ‘crisis‘ is a bit overwhelming and I guess a more suitable word would be ‘confusion‘ which has little negativity attached

Most of us seem to say ‘I am fine..’, but when you scratch the surface a little bit, the stories come out: you know I think…  you know I should do this or that… and so on…

May be, not all of us would agree, and many may dismiss this crisis/confusion as trite and a product of too much thinking and lacking a realistic view of the world. Nonetheless, the confusion exists. It is whether we acknowledge it or not is the question.

These kind of thoughts and emotions can come at any point in our life. But, the unique challenges that we face when we are 20somethings make the situation more complex to tackle. The decisions we make are incredibly important at this age and most of them are impossibly irreversible.

I am not trying to generalize here that every-20-something will go through this phase and experience these emotions. But majority of my friends at least have this confusion to some extent.

How to overcome the confusion is uniquely and highly personal. One may leave job and experiment with life, one may find time to pursue his hobbies, the other may accept the reality and try to find happiness in seemingly boring life and so on.

Anyways, life without challenges and confusions is obviously more boring than life with challenges and confusion. We make choices, we make mistakes, but we grow stronger with every challenge we face and every mistake we make.

I tried my best not to vent my feelings here. If you are a 20-something and relate to what I have written here, I would be happy to hear from you. Please use the comments section to share your thoughts.


Confusion is better than illusion!

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  1. Vamshi Krishna
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    wat u wrote is absolutely true with most of 20somethingss…
    the reasons that I think for one’s quarter life crisis/confusion are
    1. one is not clear with what he wants to be and what his abilities are..
    2. some may be clear with their ambitions and abilities but may be forced to join the rat race
    3. and some may be in the race before they realise where they are..

    only few people will be having their career and ambitions going in same direction..

    anyways.. your analysis is superb.. an article which everyone can relate too..

  2. pranitha
    Posted July 30, 2009 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Hmm…good one raa chandu…Your 20 something and confused…
    bagundhi…Keep writing as the confusion clears and ideas prosper and you find out more ways and avenues…LIFE is a loooonggggg…travel…..anyways..

    Akka…30 something and confusion continues…still….lol

  3. Posted July 30, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Yes!!.you caught the nerve of a typical keyboard player.(s/w engineer).
    For a 20+ techie these are the most obvious thoughts unless he
    1.makes a world tour(Onsite)
    2.has a girlfriend
    3.is a tech/team lead (no more a key board player,can be a guitarist instead!! he can pull the strings of young developers)

    We humans are not self-satisfied
    We make money,but feel others’ pockets are heavier
    We change our jobs and the jobs keep changing..
    We plan for the future(which isnt’ sure!!),ruining our presTHey

    There are lots of questions(rather options) above. Is Ashok satisfied chosing any one?..definitely not!!

    Can there be a solution for him,,,If you ask me,,yes!!
    Why choose one option?,
    Mark all the questions asked as “Things to do”
    DO everyting..
    1.You CAN persue an MBA from IIM,
    2.join the civil services,
    3.marry a suitable girl,
    4.Be an entrepenuer
    5.Be a Guitarist for the rest of your life…

    This looks simple….but is it ?

    “We need not have an aim in our life..we could just be an aimless arrow shot in the sky…no one knows where it lands,,but we certainly have a direction and that’s ‘Upwards’!! “

    • Posted July 30, 2009 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      ‘keyboard player…’ that’s a good term.

      and very well said… thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Posted July 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      That was a good one. Looks like an apt complement to this really good post.

  4. Posted July 30, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Chandu, this was one of the best posts I’ve read from you yet. I particularly liked the insight and the expression. Guess most us (read the IT fraternity) can properly identify themselves with this idea. I almost felt I read my own story :-)

    Good going. And congrats on completing your ten-day-ten-posts Marathon. Looking forward to read more from you.

    • Posted July 30, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      thank you. good to know that you liked it and actually could relate to what I have written.

  5. Padmaja
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Hey..really good one. way of explaining things is good..i liked it..keep going..

  6. Vidya Sagar
    Posted August 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Nice post…liked the way u expressed..the same thing, even going in my mind..the state of confusion continues.. for all our keyboard players :) .

    Keep going..Good luck !!

  7. Posted September 16, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    this quarter-life crisis/confusion has no end..i am in my early twenties fresh out of college placed in an Indian mnc without the joining letter/date of the job. this economic crisis has added more to the confusion…now even a software job pays you less..so i m confused whether i should go for mba right now without experience of any job..or ..wait for the call from the indian mnc,go for the meager paying job and relax now ..go for entrepreneurship taking this crisis time as opportunity..take investing seriously as a career option..

    we now live in an over communicated society..we read blogs..newspapers..books..and have access to unlimited data/articles which add further to the confusion. when i was in 11th standard , i knew only one thing i.e engineering..i was not living in a society of information overdose. i prepared for the entrance and got into a decent college. the four years of college life changed every bit of me..from a guy who always knew what he wants to do to a guy who keep exploring different things still in hope that he will find his interest like before.

    sometimes i think this confusion is an excuse for procrastinating things. i am idle after college not preparing for mba also. if i would have not been confused whether i should do mba or not i would have taken this idle time as opportunity and would have been preparing like i did for engineering. But in this over communicated society many have told me that getting job experience before mba will be good..some have told me go for b schools abroad..some have told me if u want to be an entrepreneur,this is the right time to go for it. so many thoughts many opinions and more confusion..

    clearly what i am doing right now..
    1. reading about investing a lot these days. i have loads of theoritical knowledge but lack experience.
    2.reading about entrepreneurship from last 1.5 yrs as i consider this my true calling but till now i have not taken any firm steps.
    3.preparing little bit about mba as everyone around me is doing so.
    4.meanwhile waiting for call from the meager paying company i am placed via campus placement.

    one thing for sure..to rise in any field i’ll have to stop being confused..stop being procrastinating..and will have to decide one thing and go for it with full heart..and finally will have to stop listening to the over communicated society..

    if anyone have any suggestion/advice contact me at chaman{dot}raj@gmail

    • Posted September 16, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Very well said Chaman. Welcome to my blog.

      I think, till you get the offer, you may try out any business ideas if you have.

      Other option is, taking MBA prep seriously and getting into a good B-school.

      Good luck with your plans!

  8. Posted November 10, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I can totally identify with this article..superb..the first few lines totally described me..lol….i agree with u..its not actually a crisis..but yes…confusion..a lot of it..may be because we have so many choices with us now…but i think the only thing that matters is the willingness to take risks..i mean how many of us would actually leave the job and answer their true calling…but yes, these moments of contemplation are sometimes good,..sometimes nerve breaking..:)

    • Posted November 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to my blog.

      Good to know that you can relate to what I have written. You are right, if we are willing to take risks, in the least, we will not have any regrets that we haven’t tried.

      It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all.

  9. sukanya
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi chandu, a very nice article. your insight is very good. you just triggered my thoughts. mmmm… i think this is not only quarter life crisis, but it is a life long crisis. but prorities of life change with time and so does thoughts of crisis, but the feelings are same. I suppose. your way of putting it is very good. keep going. you have a fan in your akka. wish you all the very best in every thing.

  10. Rahul
    Posted January 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi Chandu, very good expression raa,

    Here I add a couple of lines, I dont know how much these words are relavant to your expression.

    Gita says “Samshayatmanam Vinashathi” = “Those who doubt shall perish.”

    Being humans, it is very rare for us to not get confused or not to doubt anything. So it doesnot mean that people who are in confusion, or who doubt will perish. It can be better interpreted like: Do not remain in confusion state or with doubts, get the confusions cleared, get the new ones…and this cycle should go on. If this happens with us.. we live not just remain.

    hey Chandu… here I did not mean to draw some conclusion, but I felt it is always better to have a confusion cycle “ON” , rather than not thinking at all.

    -It was really good. Keep writing ra..

  11. Posted January 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Rahul, for reading my post and taking the time to share your thoughts.

  12. Posted March 1, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink


    Nice post! I agree with it partly! But to an extent it is the way we all grow up. The her mentality. I have done my engineering and I chose not to take up a software job. A friend of mine helped me to relaise what i liked at that point of time and since i was writing poems since a year and was working with an ngo. we thought why not writing?! I got into a publication and started writing for it. And soon, i got into a channel too. I quit that and now i am working for a company as a associate editor.

    The journey was long, perhaps, i had foreseen things becos of my cousins who are into software and feel the way you have written. I did not want to be a part of it.

    I wish each of us recognise that life is about taking chances and nothing comes to you. you go to it. so ppl. it is never late. Do you know that Bomman Irani chose acting at the age of 44.

    Well, my dad is resgning and looking for a new career. Not that we are affluent, we just want to explore. It won’t hurt. Take a break and think. Develop yourself, think of options.

    Think of an option or career where only YOU can make the difference. I am still in the process but i have made a start.

    Come on people. we have the potentital within us! We know it! But need to push it and not get de-motivated!

    Beleive in YOURSELF!! and only YOU can save yourself! and trust your family, i have with a help of a friend of course.


    • Posted March 2, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Hi, Welcome to my blog.

      Very well said and you have added a couple of interesting points to what I wrote. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Posted September 12, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Good One Chandra!!

      Being a 20 something myself..and software enginner as well..I wonder…why this confused 20 something community is so prominent in IT/software industry…..why other industry folks seems to be more happy….and why is the notion that if you you want to be happy….dont choose software industry and if you are in software insustry you will be dis-satissfied always!!!!!

    • Tarun Shetty
      Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      You are definitely one of the monks who sold her Ferrari :)

  13. Madhavi
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Very true! :)

  14. Rasika
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Story of my life! *weary sigh*. Nice to know that there are many others like me but, Only if I had some solution.

  15. Tarun Shetty
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Ignorance is bliss dude…. I have been soul searching for 3 years now…. Read Paulo Cohelo’s Aleph…..

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