Are You Experiencing A Quarter Life Crisis?

Are You Experiencing A Quarter Life Crisis?
Does getting dressed every morning in clothes that you buy for work, to drive through traffic in a car that you’re still paying off, in order to get to the job that you need so you can pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave empty all day so you can afford to live in it … feel meaningless?

If so, you might be experiencing a Quarter Life Crisis.

There’s a transitional period in every person’s life of leaving adolescence and entering adulthood.  Nothing is really established at this point in our lives.  We’re told that our opportunities are endless, that we need to study, work, earn the best possible money, raise the best possible family and make decisions that will affect the rest of our lives.

To those of us who are easily over-stimulated and like taking life slowly, this time can be an overwhelming period of our lives that can lead to stress, feelings of isolation and depression.

Decisions & Societal Expectations

My spirit animal was a cat running across 4 lanes of traffic.  That’s how I once felt facing the world.

We’ve often heard of people suffering Midlife Crisis’ but many of us haven’t heard about the sufferers of Quarter Life Crisis’.  And no wonder – it’s a fairly new affliction affecting our modern generations.  We are the generation of hyper-stimulated, eternally distracted technology addicts after all.

But it’s not only that.  Unlike previous generations we have an unprecedented amount of choices flooding us left, right and center.  Certainly, this can be immensely valuable but it’s also a great source of stress.  There are so many decisions we have to make that will shape our entire future.  We’ve gone from a care-free childhood full of comfort and stimulation, to a critical point in our lives where everything is solely our responsibility and fate to decide.

It’s no wonder then that experts describe having a Quarter-Life Crisis as a sense of panic and impending doom that your life (career, relationships, etc.) isn’t where you’d like it to be.

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Quarter Life Crisis Symptoms

The moment you finish college your diploma feels a little like a trophy and a lot like a receipt.  It’s pretty unsurprising then that the need to give up every dream to pay off the large sums of debt usually induces a crisis.

Occurring between the ages of 18 to the late 20’s, people experiencing quarter life crisis’ can also find themselves hitting a rut even before college, when they have to pick their future field of employment, amongst a million other weighty life choices.

Perhaps one of the most troubling things about facing a quarter life crisis is that important decisions must be made too quickly, and societal expectations must be met constantly.

Your life feels like it’s going too fast and is filled with too much pressure.  Suddenly you’re thrown out of school and into stress and problems without having received a chance to learn about yourself, or discover what you really want from life.  In essence, you’re stuck.

Experiencing a quarter life crisis can also make you feel immensely lonely among other people.  Not only do you feel lonely, but you can also feel anxious and cynical about many aspects of your life.  You can also face deep feelings of existential emptiness, the same kind that can be described in one of my previous Involution articles.

Quarter Life Crisis Insecurity

The first symptoms of the Quarter Life Crisis come in the form of insecurities about your life.  You begin to wonder if you’ve done anything substantially important with your life so far and you feel unworthy.

Looking around, you feel like everyone is moving forward and is making something important out of their lives except you.  Suddenly your friends are getting married, getting jobs, finishing degrees, or moving away.  Change becomes your enemy as you try to cling to the past, but you eventually realize your attempts are futile.  Life is leaving you behind.

On the lighter side, facing a Quarter Life Crisis can be a time of re-evaluation and self discovery.  It’s a time where you can slowly understand more about yourself, learn about your true aspirations and find your greatest faults.  Here are some of the things Quarter Life Crisis sufferers face in this transitional period:

  • Confusion of identity.
  • Insecurity regarding the near future.
  • Insecurity regarding present accomplishments.
  • Re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships.
  • Disappointment with one’s job.
  • Nostalgia for college life.
  • Tendency to hold stronger opinions.
  • Boredom with social interactions.
  • Financially-rooted stress.
  • Loneliness.

Conclusion

Personally, I can tell you that facing a Quarter Life Crisis doesn’t last forever.  With time, patience and experience it slowly fades away and depending what you do with it, it can provide a positive impact on your life.  On the other hand, facing a quarter life crisis can also cripple your life if you end up following the crowd, comparing yourself to other people, and living up to your peer’s and parent’s expectations.

Just think about it this way: why go through a Midlife Crisis, when you can evaluate your life when you’re young, figure out what you really want to do, and get your existential crisis out of the way?  There are always two sides of the coin.

Join our Quarter Life Crisis Facebook Group to show others that they’re not alone!

Take our Quarter Life Crisis Test to find out if you’re going through one!

Photo by: Luis Sarabia

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  • Indigo Avery

    Great article, it’s so informative! I’m so going through a QLC right now and this gave me a lot of insight.

    Thanks!

    • http://lonerwolf.com/sol Mateo Sol

      You’re welcome Avery!

      When experiencing an existential crisis one of the greatest helpful realizations is to learn you’re not alone. It might be a solitary journey of reflection and self-discovery but at least you can keep in mind that other people have been down this path as well :)

  • Patrick Anderson Jr.

    Great article. I’m starting to feel like my quarter life crisis has become a permanent lifestyle. Matter of fact, I have a novel coming out August 5th that’s actually titled Quarter Life Crisis. Pretty much deals with all of these issues in a fictional comedy setting, and I’m pretty sure I wrote it initially (it was my thesis in graduate school) to get through my own crisis back when I was 26. Yet here I am at 30 and all this stuff is still relevant. I’m just taking heart in the fact that me and my friends have got SOME sort of plan for the future. Whether or not any of us will figure it out is another story, but we’re trying at least.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/sol Mateo Sol

      Hi Patrick,

      I look forward to finding out more about your book, I enjoy humorous outlooks to life’s problems :).

      Mid-life crisis can also be another name for periods of self-growth. When we begin to analyse things deeply in our youth, often it results in a disillusionment about the things we had strived and hoped for so long.

      If this isn’t solved, the crisis can drag on for someone’s entirely life. I went through my “crisis” very early on and finally it resulted in my decision to strive for self-fulfilment, for growth and search for that which I felt was meaningful.

      Best of luck with your novel Patrick!

  • http://www.theabsurdistchronicles@wordpress.com Brianna

    Such a good article. While I’ve been dragged through this experience to the fullest, this is the first time I saw it presented as something that: a. isn’t our fault and b. could possibly be prevented if society was structured differently?

    I guess some people just never go through this and have some of the best years during their 20’s, but for those who do experience it, it really changes you.

    Its like a punch in the gut with no explanation :D

    • http://lonerwolf.com/sol Mateo Sol

      Thank you Brianna!

      In my years of exploring my quarter life crisis and observing others I’ve realized that nothing really is our fault, often we’re all victims of victims in how we are brought up, what influences our parents bestow unknowingly upon us.

      The important thing is to take advantage of this experience, to take responsibility for our states. Any event like this can shake a person up as you said, can change you in many possible ways. People with a Mid Life Crisis sometimes change jobs, houses and even families. We are fortunate to have it happen to us early on in life so we have time to change without it affecting to many other aspects of our life.

      It is really one of the reasons I created Involution as a set of tools to explore ourselves, understand who were are and help us know where to go. It not only applies to QLC people but anyone going through a life changing phase of their life.

      Haha, good analogy :), sometimes we need a punch in the gut to wake us up from our aimless slumber :D

      I appreciate you great comment! :)

  • amie

    I feel like I am in the middle of one atm. I went to work straight after my degree and realised after a year it wasn’t entirely what I wanted to do. I’ve started to take the time to discover more about myself and my personality.

    I am deeply introverted which I think is putting pressure on my relationship, now that I am living with my bf and he likes to go out 3 or so times a week with a loud bunch of new friends he has made (I feel completely detached from the group and feel unable to get along with any of them).

    I hate the fact by 17-19 years old you feel pressure to decide on the future of your entire life – the career, the relationship. To think I made these solid decisions by 17, now I am 23 and getting to know myself better I am starting to re think things. This and the lack of career atm has made me start to excessively daydream and fantasise of another life.

    I went on a trip by myself for 2 weeks, whilst away these daydreams stopped but now I am back at home and looking for work again the daydreams have came back. I think excessive daydreams are a sign of my boredom in my life atm.

    I hope by the next year this crisis will be over and I will learn to accept myself for who I am.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/sol Matthew Sol

      Hi amie!

      It’s important that at least you discovered that what you were studying wasn’t what you really wanted. Some people never do, or if they do, it happens too late when a lot is already invested and there’s many bills to pay.

      Differences like that can affect the relationship if you both don’t choose to become mindful and aware of the others needs and find a compromise. Being exactly the same would be boring, but I think the degree of how different each person is in a relationship should not be too extreme otherwise it serves more for excitement than for long term foundation building of something solid.

      Your life sounds a bit like the movie Walter Mitty, but I understand what you mean. Whenever we aren’t being fulfilled deeply with what we do, whenever we don’t find great meaning in our work, we become dissatisfied and our minds wonder to a better place.

      The important thing to remember that your life is entirely in your hands, fear is the only thing in the way, with enough courage, you can risk everything to do what you really want. When I was deciding what I wanted to do, I concluded that I would rather be a beggar doing what I really wanted even if I lived many years less, than be rich, live more but have a life full of unhappiness.

      Thank you for sharing your experience, remember you’re not alone :)

  • ShaftLefoko

    this is me!!!

  • AmberZephyr

    Hmm.. I scored an 81 even though I should be in my “1/8th” life crisis. Explains why I disagree with some.

    • SolW0lf

      I think very few will agree with everything unless they are very high up the scale of QLC. The important thing is to be aware that if you have any symptoms, it’s a temporary feeling, something that will pass with time :)

  • Raven Belote

    Nice article, Sol. I’d never thought about there being a quarter life crisis’. I can see this happening for some young folk. I think I may have been too busy raising three children to have noticed mine. In fact, I find I don’t remember much at all from those times, nowadays!
    Other’s my age sometimes say they experience the same.
    I do think none of us escape the mid-life crisis,though. It usually leaves a huge impact on us. Not only because it’s natural to re-examine one’s life every so many years, but also along with that at mid-life we begin to feel, and see tangible results of the aging process with its change in hormones, slowing down of the body, and its processes, and the probable shift in one’s views on life. Also at mid-life one begins to realize that death is a very real possibility at any time. Before this, it seemed to be a sort of far away concept… if thought about at all.

    • SolW0lf

      Hey Raven,

      It’s a common problem that affects this newer generation more so than others, being saturated with more stimulation, social pressures and influences than before, the overwhelming feelings of dissatisfaction and alienation lead to frustration in life.

      I think the mid-life crisis is so common because most people live a life without questioning, without re-evaluating constantly their ambitions and desires. Instead, most use parental and social expectations as a guide to figure out where to go in life, because they were never taught to stop, sit quietly and listen to their true desires, their true dreams and following those.

      The more in tune we are with ourselves, with out inside world from a young age, the less possibility there will be to suffer from a mid-life crisis. Because there wont be the shock of reaching your 40’s and asking yourself “what am I doing with my life?” , they will have picked a path with heart everyday of their life.

      The mortality aspect is of course the most difficult to overcome, but, with personal introspection tools such as meditation, you can realize the transience of life and learn to accept it. Furthering into the depths of meditation, you also begin to dissolve your boundaries of where your ego ends and where the world begins, making that resistance of death much weaker.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I love reading interesting points of view :)

  • bob

    I just got out of my 1/8th life crisis, and now this!

    • SolW0lf

      hahah, my 1/8th crisis involved the discovery of Santa’s true identity :S.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ridge.dawson Ridge Dawson

    I can’t believe just how accurate this is to me. I’ve wondered why I feel this way for the past year and a half, and now I know.

    • SolW0lf

      It was just as surprising for me when I stumbled upon the term of QLC in an old book from the 30’s a few years ago, it’s great to know you’re not alone when you experience things like this :).