You’ve likely heard of a midlife crisis, but did you know there are quarter-life crises, too? If you’re feeling trapped, like your life is going nowhere and there’s nothing you can do about it, you might be experiencing one.
Here’s good news — you can get help to power through. Follow these five tips to navigate your quarter-life crisis and get your life back on track.
What’s a Quarter-Life Crisis?
A quarter-life crisis is a period of uncertainty and soul-searching that can bring feelings of depression and disillusionment. The main difference between a quarter-life and midlife crisis is the former occurs during one’s mid-20s to early 30s. During this stage, you’re poised to enter the real world, leaving your family or college campus.
You might experiment with intimacy and testing the depth of new relationships. Failures could make you feel isolated from others. As you grow older, your connections with friends will change. You’ll grow closer to some and drift further from others as they get married and start families.
Finding the right career can be a major stressor in any quarter-life crisis. You may feel like you’re not advancing quickly enough in your current job, or perhaps you’re contemplating going back to school, but you’re unsure what you should study. Maybe you feel like your job controls your life, and you’d prefer a position with a better balance.
Being overwhelmed by these new life changes can factor into your quarter-life crisis. The good news is you can learn to navigate your reactions to these transitions.
1. Connect With Friends
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during a quarter-life crisis is feeling isolated. Whether you’ve graduated and left your college friends behind or moved to a new area for a job, making new friendships is tough. Try volunteering in your community, joining a gym or participating in a cultural group. If you’d prefer to get to know friends virtually before meeting them in real life, consider Meetup, Friender or BumbleBff to get acquainted with your new crew.
Try maintaining some of your old friendships even if you’ve moved away. Stay in touch through social media or video calls. You can also take weekend trips to visit your friends or meet them “in the middle” if the distance between you is significant. The key is to be honest about your current experiences. Tell them you’re struggling to make new friends or settling into your work roles. They’re likely feeling the same way, too.
2. Find Fulfillment Outside of Work
A great way to ease the anxiety of your quarter-life crisis is to find something that brings you joy. Ensure that fulfillment stems from something beyond your current employment or education situation. Having a side hustle or beginning a new hobby will give you something to look forward to while you’re at work.
It will also occupy your mind and spark your creativity. Consider starting a small business or taking art classes. Find something that motivates you, and get passionate about it.
3. Normalize Your Life Stage
Understand that you’re not the only twenty-something currently experiencing a quarter-life crisis. Just because society paints young adulthood as a carefree time doesn’t mean the experience is for everyone. Transitions are challenging for many, and it’ll take time to adjust to your new circumstances.
Give yourself the freedom to feel the depth of your crisis, however difficult it may be. By no means should you push away or ignore your emotions. Know that sharing your feelings with your friends and family will further normalize the experience for other twenty-somethings.
4. You’re More Than Your Degree or Job
Remember, you are more than your college degree or current employment. Just because you graduated and are currently in a career field doesn’t mean you can’t reconsider your path. Even if you dedicated years to a particular job, you shouldn’t feel pressure to continue in that direction if it makes you feel stressed or emotionally dissatisfied.
There are many ways you can consider a different path. Try taking a class at a community college, listening to a podcast in your field of interest, talking to someone in your community who has your dream job or joining an online interest group. All these methods will help you understand the skills you’ll need to develop to succeed in your new career.
5. Give Yourself Space to Redefine Yourself
It’s crucial to allow yourself to reflect on your experience when going through a quarter-life crisis. Rather than ignoring your feelings of isolation from friends and dissatisfaction about your current work situation, you should be mindful of your emotions. Be realistic about what you’re experiencing, whether you decide to share your feelings with a close confidant or choose to speak with a therapist.
It can also be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal. Consider documenting your goals for easing your loneliness or altering your career path. Make your targets achievable by identifying specific, time-bound and measurable tasks. Creating lists for each day is another way to motivate you to succeed.
Overcoming Your Quarter-Life Crisis
Normalizing your quarter-life crisis, giving yourself space to heal, finding joy outside work and connecting with friends will help you overcome your challenges. You’re more than your degree and current employment — give yourself the freedom to change paths and set new goals for your life in your 20s and beyond.