The mid-life crisis gets an awful lot of press and it’s something that is well in there in the public lexicon. When anyone in their thirties or forties seems to be having a hard time, or starts making dubious decisions and acting out of character they are having a ‘mid-life crisis’ (particularly men of course).
However something that gets a lot less press, perhaps unfairly, is the ‘quarter-life crisis’. It’s the same thing, only it affects people earlier in their lives around the age of 20-25 and is a little lesser known.
Lesser known perhaps, but no less real and no less of a serious issue; and it’s something that is certainly gaining more awareness as time goes on. Here we will look at what causes it, and how you can go about dealing with it.
What Causes a Quarter-Life Crisis?
A life crisis can happen at any time when we’re struggling with a transitional period in our lives, or to come to terms with the way things are. This happens a lot at middle age in particular because at this point people are starting to accept that they’re getting older and that perhaps they haven’t lived quite the life they had planned out for themselves when they were younger. Classically this is when guys realise they probably never will be football stars or rock gods, and this is hard to take on board.
But a life crisis could also come about during any other big change or realisation – from losing your job for instance or from simply realising that you no longer like your job, or from losing your partner. Despite all the fuss about mid-life crises, stress and fear are not age-dependent.
And at the quarter of our life many of us will go through similarly difficult transitions and realisations as we realise we’re no longer kids and as the pressure is on us to start achieving. It happens in a very short amount of time, but after leaving school or being in a job for a couple of years, suddenly everyone around us starts to make progress as our friends become pilots or genuinely DO play in successful bands. Meanwhile the pressure comes to leave home and to move into a place of our own, and the relationships we have start to have a lot more meaning and be a lot more serious. In school or college you could date a few guys or girls and it would just be fun – but now you have to choose someone to date that you want to spend your life with (and if that’s not what you’re trying to do then it’s probably what they’re trying to do… ).
This is a time when you are forced then to make huge decisions and commitments about who you want to spend your life with and what you want to spend it doing. And for those of us who aren’t afforded the chance to decide because we’re still stuck in the jobs we worked through college or because we can’t find a partner we’re excited about, this can be just as stressful or more so.
And how do young people react? In pretty much all the same ways that older people react – by terminating their relationships, by acting recklessly and by throwing away their careers. Of course this tends to not make things better…
So if you find yourself in this kind of situation then, what’s the answer? What can you start doing to solve the issue? Here we will look at some suggestions as to how you can go about getting back the purpose in your life and stop worrying so much about the future.
Talk to People
One of the worst things you can do is to keep your problems to yourself and live with them on your own. This then causes you to act out in unusual ways, but without people giving you the benefit of the doubt or understanding why. Before you dump your long term partner then, try just talking to them about the situation you’re in and how you’re feeling and what you can do about it. If you’re feeling bored, or dissatisfied or generally stressed then talk to them – you might find that they feel the same way, or at least that you can come to some kind of solution together. Don’t of course phrase it in a way that’s accusatory, or that makes them feel like you might be about to end things – just be honest and open and try to work out a solution together.
Live in the Now
At the moment you’re stressing a lot about the things to come in life and whether you’re making the right decisions, but one thing you need to bear in mind is that you have a huge advantage over those in the middle of their lives – you’re still young. And when you’re older whether you’re content or not, you’ll probably look back and wish that you had just been happy and enjoyed life when you were younger rather than stressing about things so much. So try to let go of those concerns at least a little, and focus on enjoying the things you’re doing right now. Otherwise you’re always be worrying about the future and never be content.
Make a Plan
Often these crises come when our lives feel out of our control, and this is often because we feel either trapped, or as though our life is running on rails. In either scenario you can make yourself feel a lot better by simply coming up with a plan that will put your life back on track and that will ensure that you’re at least heading toward something. And actually even if you never make it, you’ll find that just working toward your dream can make you a lot happier.
Remove Imaginary Time Limits
You are probably stressed right now because you imagine that you’re running out of time. At 20 or 25 this really is not the case, but nor is it the case at 30, 40, 50 or even 80. An old saying goes that it’s ‘never too late to be what you always wanted to be’ and it’s true. Even if you’re 80 and your dream is to be a film star well then there are roles you can take up and there are things you can do to get on TV.
Make a List of the Things You’re Grateful For
While you’ve got out that pen and paper, this is also a great opportunity to reflect on some of the things that you ARE content with in life. This might mean looking at your list of achievements, thinking about all the people you love who are close to you, or just being grateful for your health. Sometimes it just takes a moment to step back and look objectively at your lot in life to realise that things aren’t all bad after all.
Take a Risk
While often there’s no reason to be stressing as much as you are in your current crisis that’s not to say that your dreams and hopes aren’t valid. If you ARE bored of your life as it is, then something does need to change and that means taking a chance. Living life is all about taking chances, about gambling what you have on your dreams, and about picking yourself up again when you fail. Sure you can live a safe existence and never worry about being in debt or being left at the altar, but you’ll find that actually you’re a lot more content when you’re out there fighting for the things you want out of life. With that in mind – move to LA, quit your job, take out that business loan, and ask out that beautiful guy/girl that you’re too afraid to talk to. There’s a difference between being reckless, and realising that you need to shake things up a little.
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