Quarter-life crisis, I was quite skeptical when I first heard that. I was familiar with the mid-life crisis. The thought of a 50-something year-old man wearing ripped jeans and riding a motorcycle is what filled my head (and how I definitely want to spend my mid-life). What is a quarter-life crisis and why would I have one? The answer came to me in my senior year of college.
I was sitting down and talking with a trusted counselor and talking about the frustration I felt of about to be finishing college and not having my own apartment, prospects of a good job and a steady girlfriend. It was to the point I was really hating myself and despondent. My outlook on life was dim and grim to say the least. During the conversation about my inner turmoil, she mentioned you are “experiencing a quarter-life crisis.” My ears perked up and I said,” What is that.” She explained that around the time people reach their mid-twenties or so, they may start evaluating how far they have gotten thus far and where they see themselves ending up.
In a study conducted by LinkedIn that was featured in rewire.org, of the 6,014 respondents in the study, 61 percent said finding a job or career they’re passionate about is the No. 1 cause of their quarter-life crisis. The empirical evidence of quart-life crises being an actual phenomenon in human developmental phases is still not strongly supported. However, with many millennials reporting having such feelings of anxiety and stress that are similar to the first stage of adulthood in Erik Erikson’s eight developmental stages of human life, there is some merit.
My own experience was that of disappointment that I had not met the expectations I set when I was a child and teen for my adult self. I envisioned a nice apartment in a bustling city, completed college degree and driving the car of my dreams with the girl of my dreams in it. What I could not have taken into account then is health issues, family problems, and financial barriers all coming into play as I strive to meet these expectations. While I am not trying nor would ever make excuses for why I haven’t achieved my goals, I now recognize that life just simply can happen. I can not control what obstacles I may face. I have the choice of how I respond to them though.
I responded by being blessed to have a way to fund my college tuition on my own, having outside support with the other expenses, and having jobs that kept me afloat. I have completed two degrees, have a job I love and most importantly — close friendships. While there is still so much more I want and will do, I can look back and be pleased with what I have been so richly blessed to overcome. I know I am not walking through life’s valleys alone and unguided. I know I have the will and the desire to achieve what I set out to do in spite of outside circumstances.
My call of action would be to whoever is reading this and may be experiencing a quarter-life crisis to relax. I know this is easier said than done, but bear with me. Step back and look back at your life. Tally up what you have achieved versus what you want to achieve. If you find there is more you want to achieve far more than you have — great! That means you have an exciting journey ahead and much to look forward to. Maybe your expectations were unrealistic and you just need to reevaluate them in light of life stuff that just happens. Relish in the fact you can take a step back and refocus and re-prioritize and realize what I keep in mind every day — you are just getting warmed up.
“Fall seven times and stand up eight.”
~ Japanese Proverb