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After my first five years of professional life, I felt a little empty…

I think all Escape the City members will recognise many of these emotions. The passages below are from the introduction of Riding the Ice Wind by Alastair Vere Nicholl. They really struck a chord with me. You can view the full extract here.

Special offer to Esc members: a 30% discount – use the promotional code: 4CI when buying the book through this website – www.ibtauris.com

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“We are all familiar with the phenomenon of the mid-life crisis. We can instantly recognise its distinctive and incongruous couplings – the uplifted blonde with the down-slung grey, the slow body in the fast car, the ostentatious outfits but the thinning plumage – but we are less familiar with its quarter-life counterpart. A decade after leaving school and looking ahead to a life of repetitive drudgery like a goldfish in an aquarium, those hitting their late twenties or early thirties can often also face their own, quieter, crisis of direction.”

“While the mid-life crisis is essentially Epicurean – characterised by indulgence – the quarter-life crisis is more Stoic. Rather than wanting to be in society, it wants to be outside it. It wants to get its kicks from something of substance – rather than from substances. It aspires to reinvention rather than reliving.”

“After my first five years of professional life, I felt a little empty – as if nothing in the current circle of my existence had the capacity to truly stir me. Admittedly, to feel restless after such a comparatively short period of working life sounds somewhat pathetic – despite the fact that for most juniors such a period of apprenticeship inevitably involves repetitious and uninspiring tasks with little responsibility – but it is precisely this brevity, the feeling that you have only dipped your toe into ‘real’ life but have found it unbearable, which leads to the quarter-life crisis.”

“It is worst for those who have excelled at school and university and who expect and have got used to standing out, or have been funnelled by that very success into professional careers that are the most unromantic and laborious. Your future spreads out before you and can seem so interminable, so dull, so filled with routine tasks – each successive day the same as the next, the career ladder so hierarchical, and promotion won by time-serving, conservatism and petty politics.”

“It is the world of precedent – you learn by copying what those have done before you, all risks nullified. The formula of each year punctuated only by the odd holiday spent going to the same overcrowded and rapidly melting ski-slopes.”

http://www.ridingtheicewind.com/files/9781848853065.pdf

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Special offer to Esc members: a 30% discount – use the promotional code: 4CI when buying the book through this website – www.ibtauris.com