Amol Rajan: My quarter-life crisis


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The Independent Online

The giant poster on the Tube confirmed it. I'm having a quarter-life crisis. Three questions, three yeses – and one devastating conclusion. "Feeling tired?" Tick. "Slightly overweight?" Tick. Of "South Asian origin?". Tick! "You have type 2 diabetes."

Well, I probably don't, thank goodness. But what with my sudden onset of baldness, I've realised that the late twenties are an age of health paranoia and intimations of mortality. That ties in with a theory I have. Let's call it Rajan's Rule of Delayed Adulthood.

My generation and our immediate predecessors have invented a decade. It's called the twenties. Previous generations got jobs, houses, and spouses in their early twenties. Sometimes they fought wars. Now we delay all that until much later. We live with our parents for longer, so extending childhood. And we spend our twenties trying lots of different options – among careers, partners, and lifestyles – before settling down.

Partly this is because of economic factors. It's getting harder to find jobs and affordable property. But it's also just a cultural shift in our expectations of young people. And do you know what? It's not making us happy. We go from the wonder years to the blunder years, making mistakes, building up debts, and feeling pointless. The odyssey between childhood and adulthood gives only an illusion of freedom. Much better to get on with being a grown-up.

And that's where the Tube poster comes in. All my life, I've been too fat. All my life, I've wanted to lose weight. All my life, I've been too lazy. But the thought that, as an overweight person of South Asian origin, I could soon be saddled with diabetes for the rest of my life has jolted me into action. I don't want my kids to have a diabetic dad. So I'm changing things up, eating less, boozing less, cycling to work.

But as I do this, I realise what an epically self-indulgent rascal I've been for the past few years. It's a quarter-life crisis, man. What am I doing to myself? Why am I so unhealthy? Why don't I save more, or spend less on myself and more on the people I love? Epically self-indulgent, as I said. But if it wasn't for you lot, I'd be lost, so thank you.