How To Recognize & Cope With Quarter-Life Crisis
“Somewhere along the line, between the idealism of youth and the realities of adulthood, we become pacified by our jobs; we tolerate how we hurt the world so that we can sustain our lives. At some point, blurred in the past, we traded the greater good for ourselves.” – Richard Beckham II
Quarter-life crisis by definition means ‘a crisis that may be experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life’ or in other words – the strange feeling of being lost in this world of uncertainty and criticism. This term is fairly new and has only recently been used to describe the collective youth of the mid to late 20s and 30s.
The typical symptoms of a person having a quarter-life crisis might look like:
- Feeling anxious over their future
- Feeling frustrated
- Feeling an overwhelming discontent with life
- Feeling lost in terms of life’s purpose
- Feeling self-doubt and worthlessness
These “symptoms” if left unchecked and untreated can lead a young person to become depressed more than they already have been. In recent research, it was found that quarter-life crisis affects around 80% of millennials. This kind of crisis can lead you to question your life’s path, career choices, family structure, and even relationships – work and personal.
Recognizing Quarter-Life Crisis
Recognizing and taking steps to cope with a quarter-life crisis is important not only for your emotional and personal growth but also for your mental health and overall personality development and wellness.
Here are the signs you need to look for to help you recognize a quarter-life crisis:
1. The “Shoulda” Syndrome
The moment you start thinking about the “shoulds” in your life, you’re in the phase of developing a quarter-life crisis. There is an image in our mind of what our 20’s should look like and if our life doesn’t turn the way it “shoulda” have, we start questioning everything. This is the first sign that you’re entering a quarter-life crisis.
2. Constant Comparison
The mid-20s and early 30s is a time when all we see are people our age getting either a job promotion, getting engaged, or tying the knot. While deep-down, we’re happy, there is a part of us that feels anxious about not reaching that stage. This constant comparison of our life to others is another sign that we are now entering the phase of a quarter-life crisis.
3. You feel ‘Meh’
You feel almost no inspiration or excitement to do things you enjoyed once, you’re not happy, you feel as if you’re stuck in a constant loop of frustration and uncertainty regarding your career or life, and the primary emotion you feel is ‘meh’? It is possible you’re in a quarter-life crisis.
Coping With A Quarter-Life Crisis
Here are some tips to help you cope with a quarter-life crisis:
1. Question Your “Shoulds”
As previously mentioned, the “shoulda” syndrome can really interfere with the way your life is going. When the “shoulds” start to appear, try writing those shoulds down and try to reframe them in the light you believe your life is going. This technique will help you understand your thoughts and how those thoughts are impacting your situation.
While doing this, you need to remember that your goals – what they were two years ago – and what they are now can change. To remove the shoulds from your life, try taking a break from social media or wherever your shoulds are arising from.
2. Find Your Passion
One of the main reasons for a quarter-life crisis is losing your passion and interest in things that once made you happy. Try to rekindle your passion and interests by getting in touch with yourself and knowing what is it that gives you and your life a purpose. Self-reflection and writing down your goals is a great way to help you deal with a quarter-life crisis.
Evaluate and address your insecurities and uncertainties and figure out a way to resolve them in a positive way.
Writing down is a wonderful way to reflect on the different aspects of your life. Starting a regular journal can help you understand your thoughts and feelings and what you need to do to change those feelings. This journal that you make can also help you record your goals and future aspirations along with what you need to do to make your dreams come true.
When you’re journaling, you need to remember to record your negative thoughts as well. This will help you notice your stressors and triggers and help you learn how to cope with them.
Taking care of yourself can make a big difference in your life. Self-care activities focus on making yourself feel happy and comfortable in your own skin, which is very important when you’re learning to cope with a quarter-life crisis. You can start by trying to:
- Get a good 6-8 hours of sleep
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Exercise in whatever ways you enjoy (swimming, running, dancing, etc)
- Spend more time with your loved ones
- Meditate and practice mindfulness
- Do what you love! (reading a book, listening to music, etc)
5. Finding Support
You are not the only person going through a quarter-life crisis. There are others who are also experiencing feelings similar to yours. Sharing your experiences with them and hearing how they are or have coped with their quarter-life crisis can help.
A quarter-life crisis is normal but sharing and asking advice from others who’ve gone through something similar can help you ease and understand your situation a little better.
Whatever your crisis, there are professional life coaches and therapists available to help you. Individual therapy can be helpful if you’re also experiencing symptoms of depression, severe anxiety, or any other mental health disorders. Therapy can help you evaluate and process your thoughts and emotions and change your thinking process. You can also learn different healthy coping strategies in therapy to help with your crisis.
A life coach, on the other hand, can help you if you’re facing issues related to your career or life’s purpose. They can also assist you in finding and rekindling your passion.
A quarter-life crisis can be crippling and daunting if you don’t know how to cope with it. People anywhere in their mid to late 20s and 30s can experience a quarter-life crisis but it is not something that you need to be afraid of.
Experiencing a quarter-life crisis is normal and with some help of the above-mentioned strategies, it can be dealt with in a healthy way. Balancing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions is important to help you deal with the crisis.
Your life is in your hands and comparing yours to others’ is not healthy. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious all the time, consult your mental healthcare provider for assistance. You might not be where you thought you would or should have been but you are where you were supposed to be.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” – Kurt Cobain
Stay happy and keep being YOU!