The quarter-life crisis is characterized by feelings of inadequacy in regards to how far along a person feels they are in life compared to where they thought they’d be and it seems to strike individuals around the ages of 25-30. This is an age where many young adults feel they should have their lives together. Now what that means, is purely individual and based on the vision of the life that we foresaw for ourselves when we were younger.
Some people dreamt of having their career in order. Some dreamt of starting a family. Some dreamt of travelling the world. Some dreamt of owning a business. Some dreamt of owning a home. Some dreamt of having an advanced degree. Some dreamt of acting in their first movie or playing in their first pro football game. Some dreamt of none of these and some dreamt of all of them and more. Unfortunately, while we may be on the path towards these milestones and accomplishments, during a quarter-life crisis, we become consumed by existential dread because we don’t have it all now.
Even though we may not be where we want to be just yet, we’re also closer to it than we’ve ever been. We’ve come a long way and being reminded of that can help alleviate some of the anxious feelings that are likely to make an appearance during this time. I personally keep a running list of the things I’m proud of on my phone so it’s ready for when these feelings present themselves. It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with periodically over the last few years.
One book that really helped give me a new perspective was The Quarter-Life Breakthrough by Adam Smiley Poswolsky. I really liked his idea about just trying to figure out your next step (next lily pad) as opposed to trying to climb the career/social ladder societal pressure has conditioned us to believe is the only way to successfully live our lives. It makes the journey through life a lot more fun, a lot less overwhelming and a more authentic experience. Like most goal-setting models, it always helps to break things down into smaller chunks.
We may also find that by focussing only on the next step, that the overall vision for our life may change as we discover new interests and try new paths. The future is not static, it is created by the choices we make now and in the future.
Have you felt the pressures of a quarter-life crisis?
Let me know in the comments!