Written by Alanna Gardner, MFT
Ah the dreaded quarter-life crisis. It’s an awkward period of time between adolescence and adulthood when life gives most of us a swift kick in the ass. Being young and broke with student loan payments and a horrible job that barely pays for happy hour drinks shatters your expectations about what your life would look like once you graduated and moved out ya mama’s crib. The best part of the whole thing is that everyone expects you to know what you’re “doing with your life.” I’m here to tell you that it’s OK if you don’t!
I’m a therapist and I’ve gone through (& probably am still going through) the quarter life crisis. Yes, yes, a therapist who has had problems- who would’ve guessed it?! But sarcasm aside when I was going through it, I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t pinpoint what was up. And like most things young people go through, the quarter life crisis gets no respect. A lot of my older colleagues don’t believe it exists. But I’m here to tell you it does. Here are 5 ways you can identify if you’re going through a quarter life crisis:
1. “It’s just SO hard.
Anything and everything seems to be so hard when you don’t have any focus or know what would drive you in the best direction. I know I couldn’t settle on one thing to save my life and it felt like every decision I made was the wrong one. And to make matters worse more than half of them were.
2. Anxiety seems to be your new BFF.
Experiencing sleepless nights, over and under eating, and racing thoughts? Yea, Anxiety is now your bestie. With all of the changes, decisions and other crap being thrown your way it only makes sense that you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Find ways to deal with your anxiety in a healthy way like running, blogging, or talking to someone (like a therapist… wink wink!).
3. You feel like no one understands you.
You try talking to your family, friends, mentors, and other people who have it together looking for some TLC and all you’re met with is an “Oh You’ll figure it all out”. Those words of encouragement are like a punch in the gut sometimes when all you really want is some validation for your inner turmoil. Is that really too much to ask?
4. You hate your life.
I’m not even kidding, you probably hate everything. I hated my jobs, I hated my boss, and I hated the work I was doing. I hated other people who seemed to have it together because I wanted to have it together and I hated other people who didn’t have it together because they reminded me that I was a mess. But I ESPECIALLY hated being an adult with responsibilities. The idea seemed so much cooler when I was 16.
5. You have shattered expectations.
So you’ve spent all of your life in school working towards the glorious goal of making a decent amount of money while living the American dream, only to find out that “American dream” means working an unfulfilling job (that probably isn’t in your field) for less than what you expected with a boss that is even more incompetent than the new sophomore intern. Life didn’t turn out as you thought and you just don’t know what to do about it or you. *insert dramatic wall slide here*
If more than one of these situations sounds familiar, you my friend are experiencing a quarter life crisis. Now that that’s out of the way, the most important thing to realize is that you’re not the only one going through this. It’s normal. Most of your friends are probably going through it and the people who look like they have it together are going through it too. This is a transitional period for us so why not benefit from it. Check out Ami Defesche‘s post on finding your passion to get some ideas on how to work this situation to your advantage and stay tuned to TheUrbanRealist, we’re here to get you through the quarter life crisis in style.