Fighting Through What Definitely Is A Quarter Life Crisis
I'd just been dumped, diagnosed myself with depression and anxiety, and was only just regretting owning three cats. It was the third night of crying into a slice pizza and a glass of cheap wine when I realized what was happening; quarter life crisis. I found myself googling the phenomenon; reading list after list of ten, fifteen, or twenty-five signs you are having a quarter life crisis. Is this normal or am I just a spoiled millennial? Question of the century right? The answer; this is very normal spoiled or no.
I was living a life where I loathed friends who still lived at home and mastered the art of hitting my snooze button no less than three times and strolling into work between ten and fifteen minutes late everyday. But my favorite part was that I was not alone. Myself and about 85% of millennials, according to The Guardian, were feeling like life was going nowhere we wanted and everywhere we didn't at the same time.
Washington D.C. Physiologist, Nathan Gehlet, Ph.D says, the average QLC sufferer is "highly driven and smart, but struggling because they feel they are not achieving their potential or feeling they're falling behind". In short, we are doing our best and it just isn't enough. Despite the job in your field of study, your shiny degree, your apartment, your car, and any of the other things you know you should be grateful for, it is not enough. We are still looking around and seeing that there is much more to achieve and we aren't achieving it. Know what that sounds like? A comparison.
The need to do, have, and be better just sounds like a great character trait (you're so driven!) but the truth of the matter is that we are comparing ourselves to people who we perceive to be doing better. Rather than looking up we are looking around. Watching other twenty somethings travel the world, buy nice cars or work their dream jobs (or ours) is pulling focus. We are using the wrong muses as motivation.
There's no road-map for this feeling unfortunately. How you decide to move forward and work through is totally up to you. But here are some things to try.
- Re-Visit Your Friend Groups because maybe it's time to seek solidarity or change up the people around you. In most cases we are in our own heads and really don't see the greatness that is our lives. We are wholeheartedly convinced that everyone is doing so much better. A friend will remind you that you are great. On the lopsided, being honest about how your friends lives are making you feel may lead to you stepping away for your health. Find friends at the same stage of life as you. It will make conversations and uplifting one another more fluid. Also consider seeking a mentor. Preferably not your boss...
- Turn a Passion into a Hustle But don't do it just to stuff some extra money into your pocket. Go at it as a way refine your skills, gain footing in a professional setting outside your job, then as a way to make money. Try blogging (like I did) or selling your art. Either way, being your own boss is pretty fulfilling. Let your hustle be your reason for getting up in the morning or not zoning out in front of the television at night.
- Remember Your Degree Is Just Paper That piece of paper you nearly died for does not define you. (Or am I the only one who dragged lead weights through college?) You can do something different and move into a new field. Just remember you may have to start at the bottom but what better way to grow? Maybe take the chance to learn something new. You don't have to go back to school; attend some local panel discussions or speaker events, look into online courses, the possibilities are literally endless.
- Jump In As in jump into life. Things won't change unless you move to make change. At this point you should have noticed that sticking a toe in is not getting the job done. Move to a new city, switch up your routine, change your hair! Do something that will get the boulder rolling. Risk is scary but necessary.
- Look At This as A Growth Opportunity This feeling is a red flag for when to move forward. You feel stuck and like you are losing your mind because you are stuck and losing your mind. You alone have the power to move you. This time is scary and painful because you are becoming an adult. You are past the point where others are watering you. You need to take your growth into your own hands and this point in your life is a reminder of that.
The quarter life crisis is not a mystical and elusive dragon. It's a very real sign that it's time to grab life by the wheel and do the driving.