What Is a Quarter-life Crisis?

It’s often said that your 20s and early 30s are meant to be the time of your life. But for many, it’s a time filled with stress and uncertainty about the direction their lives are headed. 

Much like the midlife crises that middle-aged adults face, the quarter-life crisis is one to be taken seriously. But fortunately, there are ways to get past it.

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What Exactly Is a Quarter Life Crisis?

A quarter-life crisis is a period in early-adult life consisting of stress and uncertainty. It’s normally triggered by a lack of understanding of what someone wants out of life. A quarter-life crisis will vary from person to person, but it typically occurs when your life is not what you’d thought it be.

Maybe you hate your job and don’t see a way out, or maybe you don’t have a job at all. Maybe you feel left out while everyone around you is moving on with their lives, getting that promotion, getting engaged, or having their first baby.

If you’re going through a quarter-life crisis, it is important to remember not to panic. The feelings can be overwhelming, yes, but they are only temporary. Here are four signs that you may be experiencing a quarter-life crisis.

4 signs you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis

1. Needing change

The hallmark sign you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis is that you have a profound need for change. These crises tend to be brought about by dissatisfaction in at least one area of life, so wanting to change is common. This change may feel like it needs to happen urgently.

2. Feeling directionless

This period in life is full of confusion, and it can manifest itself by making you feel lost or stuck in life. If you feel like something is missing or that something just isn’t right, there is a chance you are experiencing a quarter-life crisis.

3. Insecurity

It is common that a quarter-life crisis is brought on by comparing yourself to others, so this is a time when you can feel quite insecure about your place in life. One can feel a lack of confidence or even imposter syndrome.

4. Difficulty making decisions

When experiencing this type of crisis, you may want to find a solution as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this desire to make the right choice can create more problems for yourself and make it hard for you to make any decision at all, let alone the “right” one.

How to overcome the crisis

While it may seem like these issues are inescapable, this is actually the perfect time to take note of your situation and seek change. Use this time to evaluate your life and start anew with a fresh mindset. Below are steps you can take to get yourself back on track.

1. Unplug from the internet and seek clarity

No matter what issue you are facing, you can’t take any steps without knowing which directions are available to you. Make time to be away from all devices and distractions. Grab a pen and some paper and start jotting down all issues you face. Name them.

By facing and understanding the thoughts and feelings that lead to distress, you can be better prepared to take action to better your position. When you slow down and let yourself think uninterruptedly, it is that much easier to get to the root causes of the problems you are facing. And by staying away from common sources of comparison, you can take time to think about what you truly want for yourself.

2. Be patient with yourself

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your future. Building the life you want takes time, and despite what others may show, success does not happen overnight.

If you think about it, you are lucky to experience a crisis so early in your life. You’ve realized that you’re unhappy, and you have all the time in the world to create the life you want. Set goals for yourself, but don’t be stressed about the timeline.

Yes, there are some deadlines that are strict – it would be nice to have a job that offers health insurance by the time yoyou’re6. But attaching arbitrary timelines to goals will only cause undue stress, and what is worse, you are the one putting yourself through it.

Create a plan of how to get yourself out of the slump, but understand that you are going through a hard time, and you might not be working at your highest potential. Change takes time – don’t try and rush it.

3. Make decisions

When facing the need to figure out your future, every option gets analyzed and overanalyzed to the point where it becomes difficult to make even the tiniest of decisions. This analysis paralysis can set you back from making any type of progress.

After you’ve taken the time to outline a direction you want your life to go, take one small step towards that goal. The highest likelihood you’ll take a wrong step is if you don’t take one at all.

Yes, the possibilities are endless, but don’t let that fact deter you from going after what you want. You will understand yourself better after making decisions, especially if you make the wrong one.

4. Try new things

Much like making decisions will help you to narrow down what you actually want from life, taking time to try new things will also help to add clarity to your life. Whether it be to simply add pockets of joy or to find a lifelong hobby, trying out new activities has many benefits that can positively impact you long after the crisis is over.

This is an excellent time to explore what you truly want for yourself. Plus it will add fun to what is undoubtedly a stressful time.

Final Thoughts

A quarter-life crisis is not something that just passes. It takes thought, effort, and patience with yourself to reach a place of satisfaction. Even taking small steps each day can be enough to create the change that you are looking for.

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