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The Quarter-Life Crisis: How to Move Forward

What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

Instead of having a mid-life crisis, it seems to be more common for a crisis of identity to occur between the ages of 20-30. A quarter-life crisis is when young adults question the decisions made and the direction their life is taking. It can be characterized by anxiety and uncertainty for the future or just a general state of unhappiness. While a mid-life crisis is portrayed as going wild or purchasing something outrageous, a quarter-life crisis isn’t seen as being eccentric. In fact, it’s hardly portrayed in the media, yet it’s fairly common.

Why Does a Quarter-Life Crisis Happen?

Many things can trigger a quarter-life crisis, such as graduating from college, a pandemic or being stuck in a dead-end job. There’s no one reason why someone has a quarter-life crisis and since it isn’t talked about much, the subject can feel taboo. We’re here to tell you that it’s completely normal to feel stuck in your 20s and unsure about where you want to go.

A quarter-life crisis may even be more common for millennials and gen-z than for previous generations because of social media. For example, social media has led us to compare ourselves to others more. If all you see are people who seemingly have their lives figured out or are doing amazing things, it’s hard not to see life as a competition. But remember, what you see on social media is only part of the picture. Most people in their 20s struggle in some way or another.

Signs You’re Experiencing a Quarter-Life Crisis

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re having or have had a quarter-life crisis, keep reading to learn more about the signs.

1. Lack of Direction

You may feel like you’re working hard but not working toward anything. You don’t quite know your end goal, so you feel like you are just staying busy instead of accomplishing anything. This is especially common after finishing college when graduating students say, “now what?” Not knowing what you want out of life or which career suits you are the main reasons for the quarter-life crisis. It may feel like you have to pick a path now and stick to it for the rest of your career.

2. Something Needs to Change

It doesn’t mean you know what that change needs to be. It simply means you’re in a rut and desperately searching for something more or different. All you know is that the life you’re living isn’t what you want anymore.

3. Feeling Insecure

This can happen when people ask how things are going. Sometimes when catching up with friends you may find that you actually don’t want to share much information because you don’t want to reveal that you’re stuck in a rut. Feeling insecure can happen when friends or family members are experiencing success, whether it’s in their career or personal life. You might see a lot of great news on social media or when you go out with friends, which could make you feel worse about yourself every time someone brings up an accomplishment.

4. Increased Anxiety

If you’ve never been an anxious person or if you’re anxiety became a lot worse, it might be a sign that you’re having a quarter-life crisis. If your job or the idea of getting a job makes you anxious, you might be feeling uncertain about your path in life. This can also be true in relationships if you feel you aren’t with the right person, but don’t know how to end things. Try to reflect on what is causing the anxiety or if it’s more generalized.

5. Lack of Motivation

This can happen when you lack direction. When you don’t quite know what it is you are working toward, it can be difficult to want to put in the work. You don’t feel motivated to do anything, including hobbies you used to enjoy. A lack of motivation could stem from a lack of control over one’s life.

6. Experiencing Jealously

This might sound similar to feeling insecure, but jealousy is another emotion entirely. Instead of simply feeling bad about yourself, when you’re jealous, you might act out or feel anger. When seeing another’s accomplishment, you question why their life is better/easier/more enjoyable than yours. This can lead to feeling resentment toward friends when they accomplish their goals. Seeing good things happen to other people makes you feel bitter.

7. Feeling Like It’s Too Late to Start Over

This is a huge problem for people before turning 30. Society has a crazy idea that everyone has their life together by the age of 30. Most of us won’t reach our full potential by this young age, that’s just a fact. So, a major sign of a quarter-life crisis is giving up before you even start. The idea is that if you’re in a rut, you have to stay that way until retirement. Every sentence starts with “I can’t.” I can’t start a new career. I can’t go back to school. I can’t figure out what I should do with my life.

How to Move Foward

Now that you understand the signs of a quarter-life crisis, we have some tools for how to move forward.

1. Take a Break from Social Media

Like we mentioned above, social media can damage your mental health. If the main cause of your quarter-life crisis stems from comparing yourself to others, take some time away from social media and take the time you would spend scrolling through pictures or tweets on self-care. All your socials will be there when you’re ready to go back.

2. Explore New Opportunities

Explore new possibilities for your life. This could be about anything. An opportunity doesn’t have to be a job, it could be to learn a skill, take a class, start a hobby or even to meet new people. Find opportunities to make yourself happier right now. For example, say you’ve always wanted to take a course on marketing, but don’t know if you want to make it a career. Sign up for a certificate or enroll at a local community college.

3. Search for a New Job

If the main reason you’re unhappy is your job, then it might be time to leave and find something new. The Great Resignation that started in early 2021 has led to many people voluntarily resigning from their jobs in order to find something better. Search online on websites like LinkedIn and Indeed to see what’s out there. You never know what you could find.

4. Consider a Change of Scenery

It might not only be your job that’s getting you down, but it could also be your location. If you have the flexibility as a remote worker, consider a trial basis. Think about where you want to live and which destinations would make you happier. Then see if you can spend a week or two in that place and if you could see yourself moving there. If you don’t have a remote job, make a decision on if you would consider leaving your current position and if one in a new location could make you happier.

5. Try Something New

Getting out of your comfort zone is important for living a fulfilling life. This is especially true for people who are in a rut and don’t know why. Do something different and exciting. Grab a few friends to go on a spontaneous road trip without a destination. Try a solo trip to a city you’ve always wanted to see. Or even ask friends for suggestions of something to try. When you’re in a rut, the worst thing you can do is stick with your same old routine. Mix it up a bit and hopefully find some inspiration.

6. Live in the Moment

Don’t be too obsessed with the past or the future. Live in the moment by going after what you want right now. If you have big goals, don’t keep waiting to act. Take charge of your life and make progress every single day, no matter how small. For example, if you want to be an author, even writing ten words is more than you had yesterday. This is true for a lot of goals. Start somewhere and see where it takes you, just stop procrastinating.

7. Reflect

Take some time alone to reflect on the current state of your life. We recommended journaling someplace that makes you feel relaxed. Write down what you like and don’t like about your current life. Then write down your ideal life. Now think, what can you do to get to the life you want to be living?

8. Cut Out Toxic People

We recently did a post titled How to Know When It’s Time to End a Friendship. Sometimes the people in our lives hold us back or make us feel badly about ourselves. Cut out the people who hurt your mental health and focus on quality friendships with people who are there for you. This goes for family members as well.

9. Seek Professional Help

Don’t be afraid to seek out a therapist. Therapy is an important tool to combat anxiety, depression and stressors. If you’re struggling with your mental health, please find a therapist. There are tools online to help you find one and you should filter them based on what type of specialization you are looking for.

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15 thoughts on “The Quarter-Life Crisis: How to Move Forward

    1. We’re sorry that you’re experiencing this. It’s hard when you’re not sure what direction you want your life to take. A great way to help is to surround yourself with people you trust, try new things and consider working with a professional.

      Liked by 1 person

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