How to Deal With a Quarter-Life Crisis
Are you in your 20s? Learn how to recognize and deal with a quarter-life crisis when it hits you.
If you’re a millennial in early adulthood, chances are that you’ve heard about the phenomenon known as a “quarter-life crisis.” What is a quarter-life crisis, exactly? The symptoms may be familiar.
I personally went through one, although I didn’t know it at the time. Soon after graduating college and beginning my first professional job, I realized that I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. And I know I’m not alone. Many people my age find themselves dealing with a quarter-life crisis.
Michelle Bogle, a blogger like me, experienced an unexpected job loss that triggered her quarter-life crisis.
“I think I felt every emotion in the book when I found out the news,” Bogle says.
“It took me a few months to process what had happened. I didn’t jump into a job search right away because I didn’t know what direction I wanted to follow. But I do remember having a feeling of endless possibilities, which was both liberating and also very daunting.”
Aside from career shocks, there are other stressors that can lead to a quarter-life crisis. For Jennifer Fields, a millennial from Colby, Kansas, her quarter-life crisis happened after her husband returned from basic training in the military.
“We found out I was pregnant and we got married before he left for basic training,” she explains. “So for the first six months, my new husband was gone.”
She adds that, “When he came back, we bought a house and had a ton of communication, finance, respect, and connection problems.”
“A Blessing in Disguise”
But wait! You may be able to turn your quarter-life crisis into a blessing. Personally, it took me about two years to change the trajectory of my life. I escaped my crisis in large part by building a business.
Bogle also overcame her job loss by starting her own business after her quarter-life crisis. She began working as a copywriter and copy editor. “As cliché as it sounds, having my role eliminated was truly a blessing in disguise,” Bogle says.
Fields survived her quarter-life crisis by striking out on her own. “After an argument, I packed our stuff, and my brother paid the deposit and first month’s rent for an apartment for my son and me. We got our divorce and it hurt to rip the band-aid off at first, but now we get along.”
Like Bogle, Fields now says that her quarter-life crisis turned out to be a blessing.
Survival Strategy: How to Deal With a Quarter-Life Crisis
Kiné Corder, a financial therapist, said that identifying why you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis is the first step in overcoming these feelings. Talking to a therapist or coach can help.
“When a client is experiencing a quarter-life crisis, the first thing is to help them identify the real issue,” Corder says. “Questions like ‘Should I quit my job?’; ‘Why did I lose my job?’; ‘Why am I not married?’; and ‘Am I living my purpose?’ are the questions posed during this delicate time.”
If you’re feeling this way, remember that you’re not alone. Many millennials admit to feeling depressed and anxious in their late 20s. It’s really a question of when you’ll go through a quarter-life crisis, rather than if you’ll go through one.
“The discomfort you are feeling is your true self telling you that there is more to life than what you have experienced. Don’t get upset — these feelings are normal,” says Corder. Her best advice is to “get to know yourself and become self-aware.”
When you’re dealing with a quarter-life crisis, it might sound romantic to quit your job or travel on a whim, but most people who do these things have put at least some measure of thought into it first.
“The only way to overcome it is to go through it,” Corder says. “I know I sound like Yoda right now, but it is true.”