Quarter-life crisis? Perhaps

November 24, 2010

As I stated in a recent post, I’ve had a sort of mental funk overtake my world lately and I couldn’t figure out why or what to do to get rid of it. It turns out, I’m not alone.

I started wondering if this was some sort of quarter-life crisis. Since I wasn’t exactly sure what the term entailed, I began my web search. Of course, it all begins with the Wikipedia entry. Many of the emotional aspects mentioned in that post rang true for me, which I find oddly encouraging.

In 2005, ABCNews posted an article talking about the growing occurrence of the quarter-life crisis. The Huffington Post chimed in just over a year ago with a quiz to see if you were a QLC victim. Hatch Magazine even came up with a suggested soundtrack to get someone through this time in their lives. It seems many people are thinking about this topic, and that I’m not alone in this. Thank goodness!

The question now is what do I do to get out of a quarter-life crisis? There are many books on the subject, for anyone interested. For now, I’ll pull from a Suite101.com article and an EzineArticles.com post.

These articles suggest that I stop putting pressure on myself to know exactly what I want to be doing with my life. I should accept that these things take time, that I have plenty of time to sort it all out and that I just need to aim for shorter-term goals that are more accessible. They also say that I need to keep an open mind for new opportunities, and that all of my hobbies are important to expressing who I am. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to feel bad about wanting to do so many different things!

The best thing I got out of my research was that I should not compare myself to anyone else. Everyone goes through this time in their lives in their own way. Some people know exactly what they want to do and are fortunate enough to find it right out of school. Others need to get out in the world and test the waters before they find their fit.

My cousin Jennifer recently started her own flower business, following a personal passion and making her dream a reality. She’s only a year older than me, and creates truly beautiful floral arrangements. Seeing her drive and success both inspires and terrifies me. On the one hand, I think, “If she can make her dream come true, then I can, too!” On the other hand, I wonder, “But, what is my dream? And how in the world can I do it?”

I need to keep telling myself that it’s just not my time yet to fully bloom (flower pun intended). And that it’s okay. No small thing to keep in mind, but I have to if I’m going to keep my sanity.

As long as I keep chugging forward and being honest with myself, my current frustration and funk will pass and I’ll come out of this quarter-life crisis better than when I went into it. I just have to be patient with myself. Any advice you might have on how to do that would be greatly appreciated.

Did you experience (or are you currently experiencing) a quarter-life crisis? What steps did you take to get through it? If you’ve gone through it already, what did you learn from the experience?



  1. Hey Nancy,

    Awesome post!!! I think the raising trends in quarter life crisis have everything to do with the pace of the world, and how fast we are expected to grow up. Or should I say how we feel the world wants us to grow up. As I very much feel I’m going through my own quarter life crisis I can attest to it being a resolution of three separate but constant emotions… Satisfaction, desire, and regret. We have this satisfaction that we have lived this far and accomplished some decent goals, we have desire to do more and achieve more knowing we are capable , and the regret is a result of both our certain errors as well as our unitended and uncontrollable twists of faith that have led us to be (for better or worse) somewhere other then we thought we would be.

    For some their lives can be fuller then the expected while others may find vacancy and deep voids where they feel there shouldn’t be. As for me I through my self into my work, and as your research suggest focous on little goals …, the hard part for me and perhaps for others out there is the parts of life that can’t be driven by goals. The parts that need to develop on thier own, purely fate driven! It’s that part that is the hardest to navigate … How does have faith in fate when in certain aspects it has failed consistently. On the otherhand what I see as fates shortcomings maybe exactly where I am suposed to be.

    Who knows ?!?! Hence the quarter life crisis !

    Erik –

  2. As a college graduate in this economy, it’s difficult to not feel like my life is lost and hopeless, and in a quarter-life crisis. Especially when I live at home with my parents, and work at a Starbucks in a Target. While I don’t feel particular pressure from my friends to find a job in my career field (only two of my close friends have a stable job in their field) I feel considerable pressure from my parents, grandparents, and older brother. I know I shouldn’t be rushed into anything that I don’t want to do, but the pressure to move out of the house and please my parents in constant and unrelenting. Sometimes, finding the motivation that I know I have to do a true job search (which is highly confusing and often results in a zero-response rate) is difficult in the face of mounting pressure.

    I completed the Huffington Post quiz, and answered “Yes” to twelve times. So, according to that, I am in a QLC. But while this may be a normal occurrence in many modern young-adults lives, should it be? Times have certainly changed and perhaps our parent’s where the last generation to be able to graduate from college and easily transition to a job in their field. Today, we come out of college specially trained for particular tasks, and our parent’s success as young adults rarely translates into understanding of our “failures” to land a job and move out.

    They say social changes take at least two generations to happen, so perhaps we are the breeding ground for a new way of life. All I can say is, why couldn’t it have waited another generation?

  3. Hi Nancy! Your blog just popped up in my facebook feed, and I thought I’d write a quick reply because I definitely had a quarterlife crisis of my own. It resulted in me abandoning my profession in the theatre and embarking on my new mission to become a doctor. I’ve been back in school for almost two years now.

    As far as good reading goes, I read the book “Quarterlife Crisis,” by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner. It was a bit simplistic, but still very useful because you got to hear about other people’s challenges and solutions during their own quarterlife crises.

    I have sometimes reflected on why our generation seems to be getting quarterlife crises, while previous generations have not. I’d actually like to point you to a blog post I wrote that sort of tries to contextualize the quarterlife crisis:


    That’s my two cents, anyway. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and hope you are well!

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