The Quarter Life Crisis 

  “The years between 18 and 28 are the hardest, psychologically. It’s then you realize this is make or break, you no longer have the excuse of youth, and it is time to become an adult – but you are not ready.”
-Helen Mirren

It’s finally here. Your 18th birthday. “I’m finally an adult now!” is what you think to yourself. You are “grown” and you will make your own decisions. No one can tell you what to do anymore. You may not smoke, but you feel a small surge of power because you can buy tobacco products. You can buy lottery tickets. You can get into a few clubs. For some of us, moving away to college is now on the horizon. You are finally free.

Oh, how naive you were.

Adulthood is not something you transition into overnight like Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30. Sure, there are perks. The independence of adulthood is always novel, but with independence comes responsibility. With responsibility comes stress. Stress over choosing a career, where to settle down; fear of failing and disappointing those close to us.

Our 20’s are spent trying to figure out what we want to do and where we belong. Turning 18 is just another birthday. We are sort of shoved into adulthood without even realizing it. If you are in your mid to early 20s and feel lost, stuck or just plain confused about life, you may be experiencing your quarter-life crisis.

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What am I Going to do With My Life?

If you are cool with mediocrity, you may never experience a quarter-life crisis. If you do have ambitions and having personal success is a goal, you will be able to relate to this post so keep reading!

Choosing a career or educational path may be the hardest component of conquering your quarter life crisis. Even if you went to college and earned a degree, you may graduate still with thoughts of “what am I going to do with my life” haunting you. Many of us aren’t lucky enough to know our passions from Day 1, so to find where our interests lie can take a bit of work through soul searching and exploring new hobbies and interests.

Figuring this out can prove to be quite challenging when the majority of us are stuck at a 9 to 5 job that is utterly dissatisfying. Yes, it pays the bills and the money may be decent or even great, but if sitting outside watching grass grow sounds more appealing than your job, it may be time to venture into greener pastures.

Take a class that sounds interesting, read a few books, travel a little more; anything that exposes you to new viewpoints and allows you explore mentally and socially.

The amazing thing about traveling is that it has a way of undoing that “stuck” feeling. If you are content with your job and not really interested in finding something new, or if where you live doesn’t offer the things you would like in a location, being able to travel gives you the opportunity to absorb the culture of other areas without having to commit to a move. If money is an issue, save! It is much more fulfilling to spend money on experiences rather than material things.
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Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

 

Social media can be a self-esteem depressant. If you let it. Each day we hop on our phones and scroll through Twitter, Facebook &/or Instagram and have the accomplishments and accolades of others shoved in our faces. Aside from the typical online Debbie Downers, no one shares their lows. If you are not where you would like to be in life, personally or professionally, this can easily make you feel left out or as if you are failing at life. STOP. THIS. NOW. You may not even realize you are doing it, but if you scroll by Ballin’ Betty’s Instagram post of her new home purchase while you’re still living with 3 roommates, you may feel some type of way. Process those emotions and let them go. You are running your own race and are exactly where you are supposed to be in life because you are learning whatever lesson you are meant to conquer. Measuring yourself using someone else’s yardstick will never elevate you to where you hope to be. However, do not become complacent. Yes, you are where you are supposed to be but never stop striving to better yourself.  Just make sure you are doing it for your own personal growth and not to compete with everyone else. The grass is greener where you water it.

Life is not a race. Life is not a competition. People love to say “I’m not worried about what the next person is doing,” yet say to themselves, “I’m already 25, shouldn’t I be married or have a kid by now?” Thoughts such as those are indicative of a need to fit in with what society tells us are appropriate milestones for our age group. How boring would life be if we all did the same exact things as everyone else? Variety is the spice of life. We are able to learn from others who are experiencing different things from ourselves. Instead of comparing where you are to what a friend, acquaintance or random person is doing, channel that frustration into inspiration. We are all equipped with our own unique talents and abilities that can never be discovered unless we take the time to explore our own minds. You are your only competition and the only person you should compare yourself to is the person you used to be.

 

Fear

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Fear is an emotion that has allowed human beings to remain a species over the course of time. Without fear or a sense of danger, we would have been extinct long ago. In our personal lives, however, fear can paralyze us from taking risks because the fear of failure seems too great a burden to bear. During a quarter-life crisis, you have vivid visions of how you would like your life to be, you just have no idea of how to get there. Success takes work and risk, but what if you fail? You want to enroll back into school to study fashion design, but your research has told you this is a tough field to make a living in and you don’t want to rack up a bunch of student loan debt to end up unemployed. This is fear. You want to start over in a new city. You’ve done your research, taken a visit and can imagine yourself there, but in the back of your mind, you’re skeptical. What if you can’t find a job? What if you have to move back home and end up embarrassed? Fear strikes again.

The bright side of the confusion that comes with being in your 20s is that this is the best time to take risks and make mistakes because time is on your side. Mistakes are blessings if you learn from them. You can’t grow if you never screw up. Life is nothing but trial and error. There is only failure if you allow the disappointment you feel from a few bad experiences stop you from getting up and starting again. A large component of growing is the ability to listen and learn from the mistakes of others.

Many people lack the ability to listen. Thinking you know it all will keep you boxed in and you will continue to fail. The more you fail the more you will be held back by fear. It is a vicious cycle that will not stop until you can put your pride aside and take the wisdom from those who have been in your shoes before. If you do not have a positive role model in your life whose wisdom and advice you trust, pick up a book. Go online and search for the answers you’ve been looking for.

You are in a transitionary period in your life, but it does not have to a mental prison. The anxiety of not having any idea what to do with your life can take its toll, but it all depends how you choose to look at it. You can choose to feel lost, confused and scared. You can choose to see the adventure of what the unknown has to offer. You are an artist and the world is your canvas. Create your own masterpiece.

 

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