You are a twenty-something year old individual, a few years out of school and feeling rather unfulfilled. Your life doesn’t seem to have turned out the way you thought it would have, by now. You thought that by this time, you would have landed a big job at a reputable corporation or be running a successful business and hopefully married with a first child on the way, or in a stable relationship. You thought you would have figured out your purpose in life, the direction you should take but you are not sure about anything anymore.
If the scenario described sounds familiar to you, you could be going through what is referred to as quarter-life crisis. It has been defined as a period of life following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the late teens to early thirties, in which a person begins to feel uncertain about his/her life. It has been associated with the stress of becoming an adult.
Many youth may go through this crisis at a certain point in their life. Here are a few things that may be useful for coping and hopefully, getting through this crisis.
You are not alone
As stated, many people in their twenties go through the same feelings, whether or not they would like to admit it. Talk to trusted friends and even older individuals who seem to have their life so well planned out, and you may be surprised to find out that they went through or are currently going through the turmoil and distress of not knowing what direction their lives will take. It may be comforting to find out you are not the only one who is afraid of something or struggling with self-doubt.
We are all going through this journey of life together, usually sharing many similar concerns.
See things for what they are
A quarter-life crisis is associated with the major life transition of becoming an adult and not just in the legal sense of turning 18, but becoming your own person and letting go of a season of your life. Different transitions in life may come with various fears and uncertainities. It may be labelled as a `crisis’ but it mostly has to do with the feelings that accompany the transition. It is okay to be unsure about your life so don’t see or treat it like a catastrophe. In the same breath, don’t gloss over it, as it is a process that may actually lead you to where you want to be.
Stop comparing yourself with others.
Everybody seems to be doing much better than you are. This is not true.
They may seem to be doing so, when Facebook, Instagram and other social media are your source of estimation. Of course, no one will post a picture of himself/herself crying or having a bad day on Facebook, because we only want others to see us at our best. Constant comparison with others results in unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us into depression, consumption, anxiety and general discontent. Is your crisis a result of comparing yourself with others? There is a popular quote from an unknown author that states `The only person you should be comparing yourself to, is the person you were yesterday.’ You are not in competition with anyone.
Manage your expectations
Maybe you have been unrealistic in the analysis of our own life, and it is time to let go of some of those impractical, unmet expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Success, however you measure it, does not happen overnight. In fact you may need to take a step back and re-evaluate your personal definition of success. It could be that you are actually where you are supposed to be, even though it doesn’t look like that movie/magazine you may be thinking about. In addition, the strain and effort that accompany our different life journeys tend to mould our character and at times, happen to be the path that leads us to our success.
Get moving, do something.
So what, you don’t know what you should be doing with your life. This does not mean you should lock yourself indoors with the curtains drawn and wait for a sign. This seclusion and stewing in your own juice is what usually fuels those feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. Invest your time in worthwhile activities. Spend time with family and friends, read a good book, volunteer, enroll for a short course or take up a hobby.
(Adopted from Parents Magazine, 2014)