You were a bridesmaid in three weddings this year alone, planned baby showers for two of your closest friends and helped your best friend pack up her apartment to move across the country for an exciting, new job. You don’t even have a romantic relationship let alone the prospect of a date; the closest you’ll come to a baby at this point in life is babysitting for your nieces and nephews; and the thought of a fulfilling career is about as likely as finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
You feel like you’re falling behind everyone else, while time is just passing you by. These were supposed to be your most exciting years, where you would travel, have a career that challenged you and find true love. You feel so at odds with your life at a time when you thought you’d be on the cusp of adventure. Why do you feel stressed, questioning what kind of impact you’re making on the world and if you’re really happy?
You’re in your mid-20s, confused and may be experiencing what is referred to as a “Quarter-Life Crisis.” This is a period of intense soul-searching and stress occurring in the 20s to early 30s, because you feel you’re not achieving your full potential. It’s important to know that you’re not alone with these feelings. According to the British daily newspaper, “The Guardian,” the Quarter-Life Crisis affects 86 percent of millennials, who say they feel bogged down by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness and depression.
In “Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarter-Life Crisis,” author Damian Barr says, “You may be 25 but feel 45. You expected to be having the time of your life, but all you do is stress about career prospects, scary debts and rocky relationships.”
But, everything is not all “doom and gloom.” There’s good news about the Quarter-Life Crisis. Instead of harping on how your life is “supposed to be,” this is the chance to stand back and take inventory of your life. This is the time to figure out what your motivators are, whether it is writing, becoming a music teacher or creating a brand-new business.
The Quarter-Life Crisis can be what you need to take your life to the next level. A major reason so many people end up being unfulfilled in their lives is that they have a misunderstanding about what really motivates them. Too many people focus their attention on things like income and status, which may feel great at the moment but are not what makes them happy in the long run. Those things are not enough for true satisfaction and personal growth. People need to decide what they really love doing, take on responsibilities and achieve meaningful things. They need to find what inspires them to want to get up in the morning and work in a career that makes them happy.
Many 20-somethings may find they are victims of Obsessive Comparison Disorder and Undefined Purposeness. In “101 Secrets for Your Twenties,” author Paul Angone describes this as “a compulsion to constantly compare ourselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us into depression, consumption, anxiety and all-around discontent.” Simply put, people waste too much time reading through Facebook posts, telling themselves that everybody else has it better. Time would be better spent feeling pride in their own accomplishments, figuring out what their next steps will be and making a plan to get there.
Signs That You’re Going Through a Quarter-Life Crisis
- You wonder if you’ll ever feel like yourself again.
- You want to know when your life is going to feel like it’s supposed to.
- A mental picture of yourself doing your boss’s job in 15 years makes you depressed.
- Your expenses are becoming greater than your income, and it’s starting to be a serious problem.
- You’ve moved or changed jobs six times in the last four years.
- You’ve had six different boyfriends/girlfriends in the last four years. Or, you’ve had no relationships, and you’re worried.
- You’d pay good money for a moment of clarity.
- The stress of unemployment and college debt has your self-confidence crumbling.
- After buying name-brand items that you really can’t afford, you cover up the fact that you’re broke.
- There are two roads you can take—either the one that transports you to a life of comfort or the other that swerves on the path to risk. At the fork in the road, you’re not sure which one to take.
- You struggle to make a budget.
- You surf the Internet way too much.
- You get promoted at work. Instead of celebrating, you’re unhappy. You feel that you’re stuck and getting pushed deeper into a job you dislike.
- You despise the smug person who had all the answers in college—you.
- Sometimes you want a mentor for the answers to all of your questions. At other times, you want to avoid them at all costs.
- You have no clue where to go for answers.
What to do When Quarter-Life Crisis Strikes
1) Create the things you want to see in the world.
Rather than waiting around for somebody else to do something, step up and try something on your own. Get rid of the excuses about why you’re not the person for the job. If you really want to see something get done, who makes a better candidate than you?
2) Put an end to trying to please others.
Many people create from what they think others want, and they try to fulfill those people’s needs. When we create only for others, it leaves us feeling empty—and many times, we’re still unable to satisfy them in the end. Focus on yourself and create things for your enjoyment.
3) Listen to your inner voice.
Your life purpose will be what tugs at your heart, and you have to listen for it. Tune in to what feels exciting to you, and head in that direction. It’s important to note that after years of hearing parents, teachers and other adults telling you what you should do, the inner voice might sound a little foreign to you because you haven’t heard it as much.
4) Try new things.
You might not know the things you like or dislike, although you think you do. This is the opportunity to try things to be able to find out who you are and what you care about.
5) Tap into your resistance.
Do you notice where you feel resistant to take action or have trouble somewhere in your life? The resistances are the best sources to discover where you need room to grow.