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.
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.
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