Life has been good to you, my friend. You’re graduating from college. You’re moving out of your parents’ house. You’re starting a career. It’s all just what you imagined being an adult would feel like. You’re proud to pay your own bills, proud to be working, or looking for work, in your field, proud to be starting your life. Or at least that’s how you know you should feel, and that’s half the battle, right? You definitely know that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the choices available to you, terrified that you’re making the wrong decisions, trapped in a lifestyle that you chose only a few years ago. That’s not the adulthood that you signed up for.
A quarter-life crisis is the period around 25 when some people start screaming, “Stop this life, I want to get off!” Just like its counterpart, the mid-life crisis, it’s a time to reevaluate your decisions and figure out where you really want to be in life. Haunted with names like “adultescence,” it stems from the anxiety about achieving your goals and the wide range of opportunities that have to be sifted through before you choose the path that works for you.
The quarter-life crisis presents itself in five stages:
1. Feeling trapped.
2. Deciding you need to get out of what you’re doing and change your life.
3. Stopping the things in your life that are making you feel trapped and going through a period of finding yourself .
4. Starting over.
5. Finding careers and goals that are better suited to your interests.
This generation of 22- to 30-year-olds may experience the quarter-life crisis more strongly than previous generations, because they grew up in an affluent time with high expectations for what the future would hold–expectations that many are finding difficult to meet. As time goes on, and the difference between what you want to accomplish and what you’re actually accomplishing becomes apparent, you feel the need to right what went wrong and get your life back on track. Remember, quarter-life crises aren’t necessarily negative; in fact, 80% of people who reported going through this period considers it to have been a positive influence in their lives.
If you’re in the midst of the anxiety and frustration of a quarter-life crisis, it sounds like the best advice is to get out, get going, and figure out what you want. You’ve got work to do.