BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – The Quarter-Life Crisis

Posted by danielleac on October 24, 2011

Read the latest article of BPW Foundation’s every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.  If you are a women veteran who would like to share your story, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email dcorazza@bpwfoundation.org.

The Quarter-Life Crisis

(This week’s blog brought to us by Liz Mclean, an Air Force Academy graduate from a small town who has transitioned into the civilian world in search of fulfillment after serving on active duty for four and a half years, both stateside and abroad. She left the service as an O-3.)


The concept of the “mid-life” crisis should hit around actual middle age; this dramatic era of self-doubt where people start agonizing over the imminent passing of their youth.

Stereotyping of course, it is what I like to call the Peg Bundy syndrome:  age 55, suddenly transitioning to leopard print leggings, spiked high heels, big hair and ruby red lipstick in search of an undefined dream or goal.  The result of the crisis may end up as this burning desire to make significant changes in essential aspects of day-to-day life; specifically in career and work-life balance. It becomes this constant yearning to find the next challenge.

But for a military woman, what happens when that mid-life crisis occurs at the younger age of 25? The world had best be ready for the women veterans who are going to be taking the world by storm with their eternal ambition.

Liz on Duty

Picture a disciplined military academy college alumnus with an additional graduate degree, who has served stateside and/or overseas in a leadership role in a time of a war. Picture a woman who has tackled any logistical nightmare placed in front of her, impacted lives across varying spectrums, traveled the world for business or pleasure, exhausted her own humanitarian efforts, is financially secure, wears camouflage with her hair neatly in a bun and a tube of lipstick in her back pocket, likely found a significant other (who depending on the female, may or may not have been able to keep up with her), pushed the limits of nearly every physically demanding event… and still has this burning void in life with this undefined definition to “succeed.”

The question starts becoming, what’s next? What do you do when you still have self-doubt because you don’t want to sit back and just relax…but want to continually make a difference on the quest to break away from mediocrity? For me, I am hoping the answer ends up as I join the civilian world where I have to continually prove myself with intellect….while signing up for an Ironman in Texas to prove myself physically. For some of my closest military friends, the answer has been to venture towards medical school as a second career, go back to become a pilot after already serving 5 years as a Maintenance Officer leading hundreds, teach English to Japanese forces, or start her own non-profit organization.

People may squabble over the concept of twenty-something year olds feeling like they have a lack of meaningful goals in their lives: we know we are still considered ‘young’ and have our whole lives ahead of us. The fact of the matter is, when you have accomplished as much as these women in the military have in such a short period of time, there is a feeling of not knowing where to find that next challenge so we don’t look back at age 55 and say “I wish I had accomplished what I wanted when I was younger. “

At the end of the day, these ladies simply wonder, “What’s my next challenge or goal to achieve? Am I doing well enough? I need more.”  

                     Stay tuned for more from the life of Liz McLean….


2 Responses to “Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – The Quarter-Life Crisis”

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  2. […] Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – The Quarter Life Crisis, October 24, 2011 […]

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