Did you or are you experiencing a quarter life crisis? Is it really a thing? Let’s analyze.
The quarter life crisis is a period of life ranging from twenties to thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult. It is a feeling of non-accomplishment, despair and lack of trust in what the future holds.
This poses a huge contradiction to what one’s quarter life should entail. It is widely considered to be a time of spontaneity, adventure, endless fun and nonchalant exuberance, but this is not the case for many people. In my opinion, this is because the quarter life years of one’s life raises a lot of questions and forces one to put their past, present and future into perspective. Which leads to these queries…
Who am I?
The self-identity stage begins in the pre-teen era. It is plagued by the incessant need to fit in, to explore, to acclimate and to impress, with points of rebellion and acceptance. Many of us grow out of this phase by our late teens into early adulthood as we begin to find ourselves. However, some of us are left trapped in the self-identity crisis of our teen years and find it hard to acclimate with society as we do not fully understand ourselves. How can we effectively contribute to the world unless we fully understand our own minds?
Answer: The truth is, you will never fully know who you are. As you age, you will learn new things everyday that changes your viewpoints, adjusts your thinking and set you on different paths. Life is always being altered, and if anyone tells you they fully know themselves, even at 70 years old, they are incorrect. Our beliefs, journeys and destinies are shaped by the world around us, how we see it and how we respond to it. The world is always changing, hence, our place in it will always continue to be modified as well. So, we can never fully know who we are, we all have an idea, but they are always fluctuating. The quarter life crisis highlights this question more than any other time of our lives as it is an era in which we are building our careers, starting families and creating legacies. However, this question will pop up in other areas of your life as well, because it is never fully answered.
What is my purpose?
Just as important as the who am I question, is “what is my purpose?” We begin asking this question early on in our lives plagued by follow-ups of “why am I here?” “what is my calling?” “what is my destiny?”
This question sums up so much of our lives, as it brings into focus the past, present and the future. It creates a timeline of our lives, highlighting everything we have ever done and everything we want to do. Our rearing as children, our education, our religious/spiritual beliefs, our likes/dislikes, our hobbies, our passions all help to define this question, because our purpose on this earth come down to us aligning all the elements that make us each unique.
Answer: The only way to answer this imposing question is by living your truth. Finding your purpose in this life can only be fulfilled by you following your passion combined with all the things that expresses your individuality. Studies show that pursuing your dreams and passions not only makes you happier but it defines your purpose in life. You can only live in your truth, and in essence, your truth is your purpose. Hence, the quarter-life crisis is a big purveyor of this ever present question as this is the point where many of us are establishing our lives, but the only way you answer it is to follow your heart.
This is a funny take on it though…
Where am I going?
In a 2001 book called Quarter Life Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties, authors Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner states:
The transition from childhood to adulthood – from school to the world beyond – comes as a jolt for which many of today’s twenty-somethings are not prepared. The resulting overwhelming senses of helplessness and cluelessness, of indecision and apprehension, make up the real and common experience we call the quarter life crisis. Individuals who are approaching middle age at least know what is coming. Because the midlife crisis is so widely acknowledged people who undergo it are at the very least aware that there are places where they can go for help, such as support groups, books, movies or internet sites. Twenty-somethings, by contrast, face a crisis, that hits them with a far more powerful force than they expected. The slam is particularly painful because today’s twenty-somethings believe that they are alone and that they are having a much more difficult transition than their peers – because the twenties are supposed to be easy, because no one talks about these problems, and because the difficulties are therefore so unexpected. And at the fragile, doubt-ridden age during which the quarter life crisis occurs, the ramifications can be extremely dangerous.
As expressed, the quarter-life era of a person’s life is plagued with loneliness, inner turmoil and a lot of indecisiveness. This is due partly to the fact that most times we are never sure of where we are going. Many of us at this stage in our lives just finished a college degree that we soon realize we cannot use, have huge student loan debt, have kids that were not planned for, marriages or relationships in which we are unhappy, stuck in careers we are not fond of, have so many dreams and aspirations, but are too afraid to take the risks. This question is very similar to “what is my purpose?” as the answers are fundamentally the same.
Answer: Our life plans are far off track from what we imagined they would be at 15 or 18 years old. Life and its realities has swung us far away from our intended landing point, and we have to be playing catch up. But, for some of us however, that landing point is not even in the picture anymore, and we have to create a totally new one based on our current location. The answer to this question is learning to always expect the unexpected. Life changes, times change, people change, realities change. The key to understanding where you are going is to accept the fact that none of us really know that answer. We can align our paths towards the ultimate outcomes we want achieved, but in the end, it is a moving target and sometimes we will miss.
I can testify to having these questions plague much of my recent past, especially after my business closed. I just turned 26 and the quarter-life crisis is a very real thing, as I am taunted by these questions everyday. Questions of purpose, goals, life paths, legacy and ultimate destiny. However, I find solace in accepting the fact that I can only control so much, worrying changes nothing. I can only create a map to what I want to achieve in this life and do my very best to manifest it into reality through positive thinking and hard work. There will always be hiccups, and these questions most likely will never go away whether you are in your quarter life, midlife or end of life, but peace of mind only comes through letting go and living your best life.
Have you experienced a quarter life crisis?