Is This a Quarter-Life Crisis?

Via Krystal Baugher
on May 31, 2011
get elephant's newsletter
Christi Nielsen

In seventh grade my dog died. Now this is a common occurrence for any pet owner, but what made it different was that I knew it was going to happen.

I was with my parents at their friends’ house. I kept begging them to leave because something had happened to Buffy. They thought I was being silly, over-dramatic, and irrational.

And perhaps I was being those things, but those things should not have been discarded.

We went home and sure enough the dog was nowhere to be found. The next day I was informed that Buffy had been run over–­­she was found lying in a ditch a half a mile away.

I didn’t take the news very well. Mostly I felt guilt, guilt that I didn’t try hard enough to stop it even though I could feel it was going to happen.

That was the day I started writing. Getting the words on paper helped connect my emotions and my thoughts. It was therapy.

I began writing all the time.

Fast forward a few years, I joined my high school newspaper staff. Our teacher was pretty lenient; she gave us quite a bit of creative control, which felt really amazing.

One day during my sophomore year, I’m sitting outside the counselor’s office. A guy, who we labeled at that time as a “druggie”, was sitting next to me; him waiting because of his bad behavior, me waiting because of my bad thoughts. We had nothing in common. Or so I thought. Then out of nowhere, he spoke to me. He mentioned he read an article I wrote, thanked me for the honesty in my words, and confided that he had felt the same way.

I realized at that moment that writing was not just therapy, not simply entertainment, but more importantly, most importantly, writing connected.

Two people who in theory had nothing in common actually shared the same human experiences, emotions, thoughts.

Suddenly I was aware that I was doing something powerful, something important, and I shouldn’t stop.

Now I’m 26. I have an MA in Writing and Publishing. And to be honest, though there is immense value for the reader in a writer’s words, there is little besides the satisfaction of a job well done for the writer. Words give little value to the writer; we do all this work for almost no compensation, especially today when everything has gone online and everyone has become a “writer.”

I am not on this earth to be a martyr, a savior, a saint. I think it’s time we all start to re-evaluate what we find of worth. This includes not just writers, rather all people in the arts, all people out there trying to transform this world into a less oppressed, better understood, and more connected place.

We need to let go of the stereotype of the “starving” artist and start giving artists some substance, some bread.

I know it was my choice to go down the “creative” path, but I could never imagine going any other way. I am not the only one who has felt compelled toward creativity with the hope that no one was really serious about it not paying the bills.

I could never have imagined it, until now. Now of course, I am questioning everything that I have done. A good friend once told me that we have to forgive our former selves for doing what we thought was right or necessary at that particular time. But can I forgive myself for choosing a path that basically keeps me in poverty?

And what kind of society is it that diminishes the worth of those trying to help connect? Not just people to people, but each individual to the self — the connection of intelligence, spirituality and physicality? What kind of society is it that allows people to pay to get liberal arts degrees knowing full well that a huge percentage will never be able to pay back that loan debt?

I just want to change the stereotype, to whatever degree it exists–artists don’t need to “suffer” to make better work. In fact, if they had access to more resources, money and time, then they’d probably make even more amazing work then they already do.

Of course, any time I think about my writing life, I think of my dog Buffy. I think about my intuition and how it was not recognized. I think maybe if it had been, maybe if we had gone home and I had saved my dog from being run over, maybe I would never have picked up a notebook. I would never have fallen in love with writing. And maybe instead of being where I am right now, I’d been a rich 26-year-old with no soul. I wonder what that would be like– to be just another dot on the puzzle of life, waiting, hoping to be connected, to find connection. Instead of being the connector.

I wonder.


About Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugher lives in Denver. She earned her MA in Writing and Publishing and her MA in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University/Chicago. She is the creator of Mile High Mating, a website dedicated to helping people "do it" in Denver and beyond. You can find her on facebook and twitter (as long as you aren’t a stalker).


8 Responses to “Is This a Quarter-Life Crisis?”

  1. PHENOMENAL, Krystal! You're a gifted writer rich in soul 🙂

  2. Jen says:

    " I’d been a rich 26-year-old with no soul. I wonder what that would be like– to be just another dot on the puzzle of life, waiting, hoping to be connected, to find connection. Instead of being the connector." One of the most beautiful lines I've ever read! Thank you!

  3. jazzedaboutstuff says:

    I have been recently thinking about the same thing. Sometimes I wonder whether I made the right decision to pursue writing instead of something a little more financially substantial, but then it hits me. This is me. Being a writer is what connects me with the world and what helps others do the same as well. I'm so glad I found this article by the way. It's nice to feel a connection with someone involved in the greatest passion in my life. 🙂

  4. Sandy says:

    Great article. Two thumbs up.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Corey Mondello i say thank the stars im over 1/2 done with this life…
    2 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    Jaime Karpovich Man I can't wait to be in my 30s sometimes! Three more years….
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
    Tiffany Jones I am just about to hit 40 and I can tell you, it only get's better.
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    Whitney Grace Whew! I just turned 30 this month, and I panicked..but surprisingly things seem to be turning around.
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    Jennifer M. Albert Stuck in a hole now. Hope its not too deep to climb out of!! I don't like where im at in certain parts. How can i cut a certain bad influence person out of my life??? ….. Tryn to stay positive…. Whats the first action to take is the question???? Namaste!!! Nice to be reading all of your motivation and inspiration! It helps! Thanks!
    about an hour ago via Facebook Mobile · LikeUnlike
    Rich Bordoni
    I've dealt with that specific problem a lot, trying to decide whether or not to cut a person out of my life I know isn't good for me.

    It's all a paradox though. On one hand, my opinion is that if you are in resistance to a certain person,… that person is triggering a shadow in you that you need to resolve. In which case you should stick with the person until he/she no longer bothers you, and then life will naturally separate you two.

    On the other hand, there's always the argument that you have to have a strong intention to improve yourself and move on to bigger and better things. You are the average of your five closest friends. So maybe you should leave he/she in the dust if you feel he/she is holding back your growth.

    You have to decide which argument resonates with you and go with that one.See More
    53 minutes ago via Facebook Mobile · LikeUnlike
    Rich Bordoni Leave him/her in the dust****

  6. trapsas1 says:

    Hi Krystal, I love this piece for your distinct voice and the truth in it. I came up as a writer a generation before you, when those who were writers were funneled (or funneled themselves) into either journalism or advertising–but for the writer, these are ever shrinking professions, with fewer jobs (and lower salaries) than ever. It can also be soul-draining work, as it zaps the energy out of you for the writing that really matters–the stuff that entertains and informs and helps make your slice of the universe, no matter how small, a better place. Hang in there–I see an e-book in your future! Best wishes, Tom

  7. […] My quarter-life crisis should have ended by now, but since it hasn’t, I have this creeping fear that this state will last forever. Photo: godserv […]