The question I’ve been asking myself recently is, “Are quarter-life crises real?” and my WebMD conditioned brain emphatically answers that yes, I am in fact in the midst of a crisis. Now, this crisis is not that of leaving your wife and buying a motorcycle. No, it is much more existential. It is understanding that now every single choice I make is going to dictate the rest of my life. My life isn’t mapped out anymore. I don’t have tests to study for, I no longer get to have a bullshit summer job at Abercrombie and Fitch where I pretend to fold clothes and avoid my manager. No, now I have friends who are married. I know people who have kids. Currently I am sitting at my computer eating applesauce for dinner, clearly thriving. I have fallen once again prey to comparing myself to everyone around me while silently having panic attacks inside. I’m all like, well I have about ten years before my life is over so it is crunch time. Or is it? I’m at the awkward point in my life when I get offended at getting carded but equally offended if I’m not carded. But what even are quarter-life crisis symptoms?
I personally think that we are all putting too much pressure on ourselves when we reach our mid 20’s. Do I even want to get married? Do I want kids? Well, I never seriously thought about any of this until society decided for me that now is the time to figure it all out. I just did my own taxes for the first time in my life and if I have to do that 50 more times in my life then I definitely don’t want to be an adult #brutal.
A big part of the “quarter-life crisis” theory is that we have a newfound fear of not fitting in. We have a fear of choosing the wrong option, the wrong job, the wrong partner, the wrong friends. We’re anxious about making mistakes because our life has become a choose your own adventure book. We were told “no” all the time as children, but somehow we are more sensitive in our 20’s because we don’t have the same stability we did when we were ten. Here are 10 quarter-life crisis symptoms to look out for that may indicate that you, too, are in the throes of your own.
1. Loss of direction.
It is completely normal to feel as though you aren’t sure what direction you want to go in in life. If you do know, great! You’re ahead of the rest of us, but if not that’s okay, you still have time to find your footing.
2. Questioning your path/choices/who you are.
If you feel as though every decision you make is going to impact your future, it can be hard to actually live in the moment. Stop giving so much weight to the outcome of each decision and make decisions based on how you really feel. Trust yourself a little bit more.
3. Fear you’re failing.
It can be hard to feel successful when you have just started out in your career. Try not to focus on “instant gratification” and take everything day by day. You aren’t failing, you’re working towards your goals.
4. The tendency to isolate.
In your 20’s a lot of things change including your friend group. You might not live where your college friends live, or you might have found you’ve outgrown some friends. When we feel we aren’t fitting in we tend to isolate ourselves. Isolation can perpetuate anxiety and create feelings of low self-esteem. Say yes to new experiences and hanging out with new people even though it may be out of your comfort zone.
5. Feelings of depression.
People want to feel wanted and successful. When we long for something that we prevent ourselves from having (i.e. by isolating or giving up) we become anxious and depressed. This becomes a vicious circle because it affects our everyday mood. Unhappy people are unsuccessful people. Try your hardest not to sweat the small stuff and don’t isolate or get discouraged.
6. Lack of motivation.
It’s difficult to see things working out in the end when you feel nothing is coming together in the moment. When we feel broke and unhappy or unappreciated it can contribute to a lack of motivation. Additionally, if you feel you are in a job just to pay your bills your life can seem unfulfilling. Don’t be afraid to change directions in your career, you aren’t stuck.
7. Putting too much emphasis on timing.
It is just important to get out of your head. You don’t need to let timing control your life. Don’t try to play your future out for you. It is definitely okay to have goals, however, if your life changes then let it happen and embrace it.
8. Wondering if you’re where you “should” be.
Stop focusing on what everyone else around you is doing. It doesn’t matter what your high school best friend is doing, or the kid who lived down the street from you growing up. You should be doing exactly what you’re doing. Don’t compare where you are to anyone else.
9. Anxiety about money.
Being able to pay for all of your bills can be stressful. Figuring out how much to save, how much you can spend, how much you’re making or want to make is all overwhelming. Be smart about where you’re spending your money and make sure to put some of each paycheck away, however, don’t be afraid to have fun and reward yourself.
10. Feeling like you’ve lost your old self.
It is difficult to let go of who you saw yourself as or where you thought you might be at a certain age. You’re still you, just a more kick-ass version!