A study by LinkedIn found that 75% of young people felt they were experiencing a quarter-life crisis and that this can begin from 25 right through until 30 years old. But what exactly is a quarter-life crisis and could you be going through one?
The easiest way of defining a quarter-life crisis is when you ‘begin to feel doubtful about your own life due to the stress associated with the transition to adulthood.’ It is those moments where your friend gets engaged or you get lost in the glossy lives of those on Instagram or your question your career path. You start to panic about where your life is heading and focus on all the stuff you haven’t achieved yet. It’s a really crappy place to be as, despite the huge amount of us also going through this, you feel completely alone.
I hate to say it, but is it any wonder? We live in a world where we are under a huge amount of pressure from both society and ourselves to be on the housing ladder as well as be financially stable, to be nailing our dream career, maintain healthy relationships, oh and don’t forget curating an enviable Instagram feed featuring avocado on toast and flawless selfies.
Perhaps the problem is that our parents have raised us to be ambitious and to take what want, only for us to then, well, struggle with just that. How many of you reading this went to University, had a fab old time and then came out completely and utterly lost with what to do next? Or if you were able to get a job, only to wonder a few years down the line ‘is this it?’ Or maybe you were desperate for independence so moved out of your family home, only to get stuck renting and unable to afford enough to scrape together a deposit to buy. As above, social media only serves to convince us that everyone else is so much more put together than we are but whether or not this is true (which it probably isn’t btw), it’s easy to forget that everyone’s lives move at a different pace.
Age can be another big factor. For some reason, a lot of us have drummed it into our heads that by a certain age, we must be doing this or that, and if we’re not, ohshitwhatarewegoingtodonow? The upwards slope to adulthood is a scary one full of decisions and uncertainty and with each passing year, it can feel like we’re running out of time.
Regardless of when or how, I think we all have moments where we panic and want to quit our whole lives and emigrate to Honolulu. Obviously very little of us actually do that so instead, we are left spending months tormenting ourselves, frequently coming back to thoughts that we are not good enough.
Question is, what can you actually do if you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis? Well, I’m afraid the simple answer is that it all comes down to you. I know, who’d have thought it, huh?
Use it as an opportunity to step back and look at your life as a whole. You might be able to do this mentally or you might need a good old pen and paper. Split your life into the usual ‘areas’ – you know, love, career, money, home, etc. This will help you think of each aspect individually rather than lumped together as a whole. Next, locate the area/s that you are most dissatisfied with, the ones that keep coming back to niggle you over and over again. Then you want to get specific. If the issue is your job, figure out what it is about your job. Is it the money? Your boss? Or do you simply not enjoy your role? Now don’t get me wrong, this approach isn’t going to make everything rosy in an instance. But what you want is to create a series of steps, within your power, that you can actively take to improve your situation. You need to feel like you are being proactive in your own life.
It may seem really obvious but talk to other people too. Holding your hands up and admitting to your friends you’re not completely happy with where your at will not only help you rationalise the situation but I’m fairly certain your friends will know exactly what you’re going through. It will remind you that most of us are in the same boat, hopefully alleviating some of the pressure you’re probably putting on yourself.
But most of all, it’s vital to remember what you are going through is completely normal and to be honest, pretty inevitable as I’ve come to accept. Not everyone will be as open about the struggles they have experienced but there’s no doubt they would have endured their fair share of self-doubt and confusion, even the most successful people. This time of your life is one big transition, ultimately but it is both necessary and character building. Whatever happens and wherever you end up, everything will fall into place. Eventually.