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Quarterlife Crisis: Fact or Fiction?

by Nashata K.

Image source: http://www.chronicle.com

As human beings, we go through many facets in our lives. From the time we are born, we are exposed to sounds, languages, rituals, and everyday norms of interaction. How we perceive the concepts around us is what makes us unique. As we form our own ideation and through rewards, punishment, interaction and societal norms, we adopt our own believes and form our own standards of life. We become fascinated with the world that surrounds us as we journey into the future”


Image source: http://urwebsrv.rutgers.edu

Seemingly more and more individuals in their mid 20’s to early 30’s are experiencing what some experts are calling ‘quarterlife crisis’. This phenomenon is often characterised by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness and depression that are caused by factors such as personal relationships, life transition and professional development. Millennials could also be experiencing this phenomena as the ‘onset’ of this phenomena is said to occur frequently after college as major life changes are felt during this stage.

Up until now, most social research have based our happiness over the course of our lifetime in a U-shaped curve which is a downward spiral through our twenties and thirties and then finally reaching bottom at midlife crisis before things start to ‘look up’. Other studies show that prior beliefs that happiness starts going down in our twenties may not necessarily be true. Regardless of how experts or professionals classify this so-called phenomenon, the most important thing to remember is there is always light at the end of the tunnel!


As we plummet into this twilight zone filled with inconsistencies and the unfamiliar, bear in mind that there are many doable and achievable tactics that can be practiced in order to gain some form of control.

Detach from your default direction

Image credit: Andrew art Baines @ https://twitter.com/andrewsurreal

Image credit: Andrew art Baines @ https://twitter.com/andrewsurreal

When we try to convince ourselves that we’re not lost, we embark on a one-way path, even if it’s not the right path simply because we are unsure. When this chosen path backfires, we tend to stick to it and persist uphill because someone else has chosen that path for us, or we feel it’s only the “right” thing to do . Feeling fearful of the future is normal as only a few people instinctively know what they want to do with their lives. However, our brains have been proven to create new neural connections every day. This is good news because it means nothing is ever set in stone and we are always taking in new experiences as we go along. The next time you feel stumped, just remember that your brain is the most powerful tool in your body so rest assured – it’s never too late to start again!

Read more in The Psychology of Lost.

List down what you’re good at

Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/171488698288659108/

Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/171488698288659108/

As a late twenty year old, I know it can be daunting, especially if you haven’t quite already found your niche.. or passion. If we don’t define what actually matters to us in our 20’s, we’ll get lost in the chaos of what everyone else is doing and where we think we “should” be going. Once you have detached your default direction, the next thing to do would be to take a moment and think about your milestones and how you’d like to lead a more fulfilling life. Ask yourself these fundamental questions:

What are the things do I love?
What am I good at?
What does the world need?

These questions should be your guiding force. Do not put too much on your plate at a time. We often have the tendency to list a multitude of things because we fear not trying everything out. The key is to stick to your beacons when you feel you are being distracted and they ought to pull you home.

Read more from The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Don’t be pinned down by the shackles of your degree

Image source: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/new-year-resolution-list/

Image source: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/new-year-resolution-list/

Many college grads feel like they’re stuck going down the path carved out for them by their college major but that need not be the case. For example, you took a degree in Engineering but after a few months of working as an engineer, you start to feel like this was never really cut out for you. Don’t let your degree define your identity. People use their degrees as a crutch if they are not sure what they want. Consider launching into a new learning experience – an online class, going out for coffee with a relative or friend who has your dream job, or just drowning in any kind of reading material that has the possibility of opening up your mind. Eradicate the belief that people need degrees or some kind of formal education to pursue something else. You can even consider a short travel experience if you have the funds, as travel can really allow for self-discovery. Worst case scenario is you can always fall back onto the skills you already have.

Find meaning and purpose

Image source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-find-meaning-purpose-set-aspiration-goals-while-powerful-ferrier

Image source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-find-meaning-purpose-set-aspiration-goals-while-powerful-ferrier

In the heart of every anxiety lies fear. We fear we’re not performing well enough, we imagine we’re not where we imagined ourselves to be, and we worry we won’t find what we’re looking for. A lot of these worries and fears can be attributed to the fact that we are not contented in what we are doing presently. A sure way to harvest a more positive living is finding meaning in what we do.

Recommended reading: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl ; The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Understand that this is normal but do not sit, simmer and stir

To many, quaterlife crisis is the real deal. You’re 25, fresh out of college and already you’re on your second job. On top of that, pressure from your family about settling down (if you’re from a more traditional family) can be a total nightmare. To make matters even worse, you’re now financially responsible for yourself and you’ve got that huge student loan to pay off (to start with). Understandably, you may feel pressured and presumably, afraid of what the future might bring. Despite the arguments and counter arguments about quaterlife crisis, the fact remains – how do I get out of this?

The funny part about being in your 20’s is that you’re meant to experience life through your own lenses as it the start of adulthood. Understand that this is a transition, a new chapter of life and much like the past, this too would come to an end. At the same time, go out and explore the world around you. Take up hobbies, learn new skills and make friends along the way. Be the best version of yourself and all things will fall into place!

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