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What is Quarter-life Crisis and How to Deal With It

“Am I having a quarter-life crisis?”

The fact you’re reading this means you probably are. And you’re seeking a solution.

Maybe you’re frustrated about life, careers, and relationship. Let’s face it. There’s no one way-get away solution for this. But allow me to guide you about these quarter-life circumstances.

I vividly remember the tearful days and nights I had upon entering early adulthood. I was a 21-year-old college student, delayed with my graduation. My batchmates started to get jobs while I’m stuck at school. It’s the most disappointing feeling –being left behind.

At the age of 22, I graduated. However, I was underemployed and worked in sales, facing toxic co-workers. It was nowhere near my dream job, but I accepted that “this is reality”.

I felt empty.

And this is what a quarter-life crisis is all about. It is a chapter of reflecting and soul-searching for young people.

What’s my purpose?

Is this where I would end up?

Where did my motivations and dreams go?

New responsibilities, new people, and isolation from loved ones lead to emptiness. These are the stresses upon entering the quarter-life.

What is a quarter-life crisis?

Quarter-life crisis outsets from the age of 18–30. It often happens to young adults after graduation. They experience frustrations as soon as they arrive in the “real world.”

Young adults are bound to face:

  • New work
  • New lifestyle
  • New responsibilities
  • Living outside the care of their parents
  • High expectations to be rich or successful
It’s a boulder people often carry alone.

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Tess Brigham, a recognized psychotherapist and life coach said, “If you’re someone who has always had a clear direction, but now you’re questioning every choice you’ve made in the last couple of years — you may be in the midst of a quarter-life crisis.”

“Reality vs Expectations” hits real hard. It’s a dreaded phase, but I can assure you, you will get through it.

Is quarter-life crisis real?

Yes, more than ever.

Abby Wilner coined the phrase “quarter-life crisis”. It’s as an analogy to the “mid-life crisis” condition.

This state exists, however, some people from the older generation consider it fictional and made-up. Nevertheless, it’s understandable. It’s because the previous generations gave less focus on emotional and mental health.

But, now that we’re in the digital age, awareness of emotional and mental health gains more attention. Social media, information explosion, democracy, and communication convenience deliver openness and freedom of speech.

Today’s generation amplifies freedom of expression more than ever. But while this is a good leap for our society, too much openness has adverse impacts, especially on young adults.

During the ’80s, people rarely see their childhood friends, old classmates, and relatives. Life comparisons are less frequent.

On the other hand, Millenials and Gen-Zs are born in an opinionated generation. People are tolerant about sharing their perspectives, publicizing lifestyles, and stalking.

This results in the highest time of propagating comparison, fear of being left behind, and jealousy towards the other people.

The Talk I had with my best friends

According to The Guardian, the quarter-life crisis affects 86% of millennials. In 2011, researchers say that disappointment, depressions, and insecurities overwhelm one-third of all the people in their 20’s.

And I wasn’t exempted.

I have two best friends, which we’ll call Abbie and Clara. As childhood best friends, we saw how each other progressed. We update each other with our lives.

One day, the three of us had a deep life talk. The foolish days were over. Abbie’s a manager, Clara works overseas, and I am a writer.

Regardless of success in their career, they told me how empty they felt. They felt like work machines. It wasn’t what they signed up for.

At the age of 23, we’re on the same page, felt the same void. It’s a reality. No one signed up for this, but it’s unavoidable.

We all enter the same hole and get through at different paces.

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The Challenges Young Adults Face Today

Quarter-life means facing new circumstances. Here are the challenges most young adults face during their quarter-life crisis:

1. Dissatisfaction in Career

Months to years after getting a job, you contemplate your career path.

You ask yourself, “with a degree, do I deserve this job?” or

become more resolute to say, “I don’t like my job.”

The uncertainty leads to unhappiness in the workplace. You start doubting your reasons. You itch to find a better job. It’s a mind-whacking moment to decide where to plant the next steps.

Choosing between getting another job or starting a businessprobably crossed your mind, too. It’s certainly an anxiety-inducing stage.

2. Acceptance of Responsibility and Living alone

Can I live alone? Can I make a living?

It’s a hard start. You had nothing, and have to make something. It was a slow process and you feel like you’re not doing any progress at all. Success feels like an eternity to achieve.

3. Steering Relationships

No more puppy love. No more happy crushes. It’s the time where you’d prefer a more serious relationship. Dating has become tiring. You wish to settle with a matured and understanding relationship.

With work, personal issues, and other responsibilities, you can’t let love aggravate you.

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4. Making long-term personal decisions

The quarter-life crisis exists due to unfulfilled expectations. One day, you’re full of hope and dreams. A year later, you search where everything went wrong.

On this quarter-life crisis, you re-plan your steps.

“Is this what I want?”

“Should I find another job?

“Should I stay?”

It’s also the stage where you’ll reflect on things and be more resolute to actualize an established goal.

How to deal with a Quarter-life crisis

This stage passes, leaving lessons and reflections. The following are the lessons you will get to go out as a better, more responsible, and fulfilled adult.

1. Have the courage to reach your goals.

Getting an A grade is nothing compared to the experiential game of life. However, do you believe that you can achieve anything you want in life?
You do? Of course, you can.

Anything is possible. If you want to build a business, specialize in something, publish a book, or glow up… these are all possible. But, it won’t be as easy as passing your high school subjects. Growing up means leveling up the challenges.

Have the courage to do what it takes –whether it’s talking to people, shouting it out to the world, standing up from criticisms. Stand up for what you want.

2. Avoid comparisons.

Choose what you feed your mind. Would you prefer to sulk from other people’s achievements or use them as inspiration?

Don’t give in to the temptations of social media. Don’t compare and live your own way.

What are the outcomes if we don’t use social media?

I had a personal experiment with my social media accounts. I deactivated them for a week –no Facebook, no Twitter but I kept my Messenger for communication.

It was a beautiful week outside of the online world. I relived my hobbies, I cleaned the entire house, watched Netflix, wrote stories, and helped my mom.

The last day of the experiment came. I reinstalled my accounts. The first post I saw: a guy surprised my friend with a bouquet of flowers. Cheesy, right?

It wasn’t my thing however, I literally felt a zap crawl all over my body. I furrowed my brows.

In a matter of seconds, I felt left out. This may be what we call envy. I‘m not the type to react negatively over a happy couple. But these posts attack our subconscious. It stays in our minds.

“I have to stand out, too,” I thought. (An unfortunate example of comparison and competition.)

Comparison is addicting. Social media usually doesn’t help in a quarter-life crisis. Moreover, it even feeds loneliness and depression. Don’t fall into this trap.

3. Patience and consistency are key.

Overnight success is an illusion. Before someone becomes successful at something, they’ve practiced for months and years. They shed tears, frustration, and sweat before reaching that stage.

Success is the collection of little wins. Set your goal and celebrate each achievement. Be patient and consistent.

I congratulated myself when I learned how to make recordings through PowerPoint. I celebrated when I found a good reference book for my class. It’s the little wins that make us all better. These wins equate to growth.

4. Discover your desires by trying new things.

You are young and strong. There are a lot of opportunities you can venture into. Don’t be afraid to change paths if you’re unfulfilled with your current. Your college degree is not the end of it all.

Even Jeff Keller, a motivational speaker, had it difficult to change careers. He shifted from being a lawyer to a motivational speaker. However, he ventured to a whole new career, despite criticisms.

His book “ Attitude is Everything ”, was a hit that opened the eyes of millions of people, even me. It helped me gain a better outlook on life.

If you’re interested in the book, click here to check on Amazon.

Read a book. Experience new things. It will lead you to the path you prefer to settle in.

5. Get a life coach.

During the devastating state of a quarter-life crisis, you can get professional help. Life coaches can objectively pinpoint what you’re missing out on.

Life coaches guide you through the problems. They don’t literally solve all your problems, but they help you grow. Coaches clear a clouded mind, and set new perspectives.

When a quarter-life crisis hits you with depression, excessive self-consciousness, and emptiness due to the challenges of adulthood, life coaches can get you back on track.

It’s healthier to ask a professional than asking family or friends. Your loved ones care for you. However, they may forcefully pull you out from a developmental crisis which may risk mental and emotional well-being.

Getting a life coach can be a better option.

Here’s my Last Say

At some point, you will reach your eureka moment. The scattered puzzles will fall into their perfect places. As you collect these puzzle pieces, it would lead you to a whole new route where you are wiser and stronger.

Consider the quarter-life crisis as the turning point, training stage, and strengthening phase of your life. Dive into experiences. Don’t be afraid. It’s high time to experience new things, commit mistakes, and try again.

You’re not failing. You’re just at the starting point. As for now, don’t look far ahead. See what’s in front of you now and learn from it.

Keep going.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you purchase through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks!

4 thoughts on “What is Quarter-life Crisis and How to Deal With It”

  1. How can someone overcome a quarter-life crisis?

    The first step is admitting to the issues and then finding a space to talk about them. Many individuals are unwilling to admit to their unhappiness and the majority of young adults suffer silently. Their reality does not match society’s portrayal of what it means to be in your twenties, so they may internalize their issues and feel inadequate or embarrassed.

  2. Thankyou for sharing your knowledge and experience. This help me alots to improve my mistakes. To avoid some negative thoughts.

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