Most of us have heard about the midlife crisis – you know, the one where somebody buys a Porsche in their fifties. However, the quarter-life crisis, midlife’s less famous nephew is an experience an increasing number of people are dealing with. If you want to know more about the peculiar state that comes with being in your mid-twenties, as well as how to overcome it fast and without bruises, keep on reading.
What Is a Quarter-Life Crisis?
To begin our guide through this experience, we’re first going to give a quarter-life crisis definition. In psychology, the term is often defined as having anxiety over the quality and direction of one’s life. It can show up in relation to one’s personal or professional life and can last anywhere from a few weeks to multiple years. This phase is experienced as a period of questioning what one is headed towards, being afraid of failure, as well as experiencing uncertainty about the long-term decisions one is compelled to make.
What Age Is a Quarter-Life Crisis?
People often ask: is 25 a quarter-life crisis? And given the name, it would be logical to presume that (although most folks don’t live for a whole century) 25 is the number around which this part starts. However, as with anything else relating to human lives, it’s difficult to recognize one clear beginning and ending point that can apply to everyone.
However, a LinkedIn study shows that about 75% of people of age 25 to 33 experience this, and interestingly it affects more women than men. About 50% of women, in comparison to 41% of men, said they feel more anxious because of this. So, realistically, this period can be said to start in the early 20s and can last up even to the later 30s. It all depends on case-by-case scenarios and events in one’s life that occur in these trying years.
Most folks notice the stress set in their early 20s, and experience it on and off for about a decade later
#1 What Causes a Quarter-Life Crisis and Makes You Feel This Way?
In our culture, there is a common misconception that the 20s and early 30s are the most fun period of people’s lives, when folks are independent, don’t have too many obligations, and are typically in good health. However, even though these years can be exciting and adventurous, they are also a period of immense change and rapid uncertainty. And other than being able to go out and socialize, young folks also deal with:
Leaving their childhood home for the first time,
Living alone in a flat or in a home with roommates,
Experiencing financial difficulties while trying to become financially independent,
Having to work a job that isn’t inspiring or enjoyable,
Struggling with choosing a career path,
Making big decisions about marriage and children.
It is important not to idealize these years since they are not as shiny as they may seem at first glance. While they can be fun and interesting, there is more to it. These are the years filled with real or imaginary pressure that just comes with coming of age. Additionally, with everyone else expecting you to be enjoying your youth, young people find it difficult to validate their uneasiness and struggle with dealing with stress.
Even the most longed for changes can be exciting and scary simultaneously
#2 More People Experience This Crisis and Its Symptoms Nowadays Than Any Other Generation Before
Most people who are in their twenties and thirties today grew up on movies and expectations from a different time. In these images of the future, they were told that all they had to do was just get their diploma, and they were basically promised a steady job, an affordable flat, a partner, two dogs, and children if they wished for them.
However, once people got out of school, the case promised seemed just more and more unattainable, leaving a sour taste. Although the context has completely changed, millennials still expect themselves to catch up with their personal milestones created by a different world that no longer exists.
Analysis Shows That Millennials Are Experiencing Extreme Conditions in the Contemporary World
There is a reason why so many millennials are going through these feelings and why even more of them are diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The world is less stable than ever before, and what was previously given is now very hard to obtain. From lack of affordable housing to a merciless job market, decreasing financial stability, and increasing student loans, it’s no wonder everyone feels as if they are living in a perpetual mental health crisis.
And not to mention the added impact of social media, which is ever-present, as well as marginalization in the form of misogyny, homophobia, and racism many have to deal with on their own in a constantly fluctuating political climate. So, if you are finding it difficult to feel stable in your twenties and thirties, fear not – it is a generational problem many of your peers are experiencing – even if it doesn’t seem so on Instagram.
More and more millennials are struggling with their career path in times of economic hardship and insecurity
#3 The Quarter-Life Crisis Typically Presents Itself in Four Phases
One can stay stuck in this phase for several years, and usually, it always consists of four stages that psychologists and therapists perceived over multiple pieces of research. So if you recognize yourself in any of the following stages, know that it might be time to provide yourself with some self-care:
The first phase or feeling trapped – A person finds themselves feeling trapped in relation to some commitment. This could be career-related, due to starting a new position with increased work stress, or related to some personal situation such as a romantic relationship. This is a pretend adulthood – it looks like a person is mature and independent, but all they feel is being locked in.
The second phase or separation – A person decides to change something, and most often, it means they’ll leave the job or partner. However, this sharp break from their day-to-day will usually have them feeling lonely as a result and isolated from everyone.
The third phase or reflection – While they are separating from what they were used to, they’ll use the isolation to reflect and think through their choices and plans. They’ll think of new directions and adventures to take.
The fourth phase or understanding – Finally, the person will go out of isolation and start new hobbies, relationships, and interests. They’ll meet new friends and grow as a result, gaining a better understanding of the world, more motivation, and a different outlook. This process can last for years and could repeat itself multiple times.
Isolation is uncomfortable but it is an integral part of the process
#4 Learn What Can You Do to Overcome the Process
As uncomfortable as the experience may be, it is a big learning curve that will help you grow on multiple fronts. However, no one likes the feeling of not having control over their present and future. That’s why, we want to present to you some of the best self care ideas that can help you change your mindset, and overcome the troubles and struggles that take up your mental space.
Accept That This Is a Normal Phase of Life
Accepting what we cannot change is easier said than done. However, when life throws discomfort your way it’s important to practice acceptance. That doesn’t mean you should settle for the position you hate, or a partner you no longer enjoy spending time with. Rather it means recognizing that you are in a normal, transitory period which is difficult, but will not stay the same forever.
Share Your Feeling With Your Loved Ones and Ask for Their Advice
If you are finding it difficult to calm yourself down, try talking to your friends and asking for their advice. As already mentioned, this is a generational problem more folks than you might initially think struggle with. Exchanging experiences with others who understand what you are going through can be healing.
Getting a compassionate answer will help you feel less isolated and alone, and help you overcome the struggles in front of you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people you know, consider starting a WOC workshop group where you could meet like-minded individuals who’d listen and relate, but whom you wouldn’t have to meet daily.
Set a Vision and Pursue It
When you are in a crisis mode, your perspective is clouded by stress. And although stress can be a good indicator that something is off, it is not the most productive feeling in the world. So, what you’ll want to do is shift your mindset to a state in which you can flourish and grow. That starts by exploring your passions and ambitions, rather than your fears.
Trust that this is not your peak and that there is more ahead. So, sit yourself down and think about what drives you, what activities make you energized, and what dreams you would chase if you knew you couldn’t fail. Try to visualize your future, and then slowly, over a few months, sketch out the steps to reach your dreams and goals.
Don’t Be Afraid to Explore Different Things to Find What Interests You
Black women in the workplace, or women of color in general, have a more difficult time finding a job that meets their qualifications and aspirations. So, once you catch yourself feeling uninspired in the position you’re in, it can be scary to go out looking for a different career path.
However, it is important to explore your interests, or even interests of those around you, to see if there is something else you might enjoy doing more. Life is too short not to get engaged with the world around you at your full capacity. You are young with so much ahead of you, and should allow yourself freedom to craft your future in the best way possible.
Instead of looking at the future as a list of potential failures, try looking at it as an exciting adventure that awaits you
#5 The Best Way to Cope With This Stressful Time You’re Experiencing Is Taking Therapy for Women of Color
Although the crisis might be a widely experienced phenomenon, it can lead to bigger problems, like anxiety and depression, especially for women. So, if you find yourself struggling for a prolonged period, having problems with sleep, or experiencing intrusive thoughts, it may be time to google ”counseling for women near me”. Whenever you find yourself hitting a wall, getting professional help is the best way to proceed forward. Booking a counselor for women, especially if it is a therapist of color can be a life-changing experience that could guide you out of this turbulence much faster.
Researching ”Therapist Near Me” Can Be Hard, But It’s an Important Step of the Process
Scheduling your first therapy session is by default intimidating, since you are finding yourself in the situation of having to choose between therapists, and opening yourself up to a complete stranger for the first time. However, women’s counseling does work, which is why so many folks decide to go to therapy, and stay in it for a longer period, especially in their late 20s. This is because counselors for women understand the problems you are facing and can guide you through the challenges that are in front of you. And your quarter-life crisis is the perfect time to get some guidance.
WOC Reflections features weekly interviews and wellness tips delivered to your inbox.