This summer marks the 4 year anniversary of my Quarter Life Crisis. I realized what was going on a year after I graduated University. I didn’t know what was happening to me I seemed to be the only one of my friends who was experiencing what I was. After some time on Google, I realized that I was probably having a quarter life crisis. I had never heard the term before. At the time, Wikipedia listed the following traits*:
- realizing that the pursuits of one’s peers are useless
- confronting their own mortality
- watching time slowly take its toll on their parents, only to realize they are next
- insecurity regarding the fact that their actions are meaningless
- insecurity concerning ability to love themselves, let alone another person
- insecurity regarding present accomplishments
- re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
- lack of friendships or romantic relationships, sexual frustration, and involuntary celibacy
- disappointment with one’s job
- nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
- tendency to hold stronger opinions
- boredom with social interactions
- loss of closeness to high school and college friends
- financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipatedly high cost of living, etc.)
- loneliness, depression and suicidal tendencies
- desire to have children
- a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you
- frustration with social skills
I didn’t identify with all of them, but I was feeling the loneliness and missing University, I had the burden of $30, 000 in school loans, I was painfully single, I wanted kids, I was feeling like a failure because the place I was in my job was not at all as planned, and I was facing the fact that the world was not my oyster like I had previously thought. It was like growing up in the Shire and then being ushered into downtown Toronto where the cold hard buildings block out the sun and people are barking at you to get out of their way. Or at least, that’s how it felt.
The real world didn’t seem very pleasant.
After looking up ‘quarter life crisis’ on Wikipedia, I thought about checking to see what kind of books there were on the topic. I found a book called 20 Something, 20 Everything that explained it even more to me. The author had experienced what I had. She done some research and found out that this was fairly normal, especially for young female college grads. Here are a few quotes from other young women who were describing this time in their life:
- “All of a sudden I feel lots of pressure from society about what a woman should be.”
- “I do not feel like a grown-up because I’m still learning about myself.”
- “I immediately start pursuing what I think I want for a profession, then change my mind and start over. It is a time of dating, living with others, breaking up, and establishing independence from my family.”
- “I feel conflicted, knowing I need to break away from the security of my parents but not knowing how to do it and, quite honestly, not really wanting to.”
- “This is a time of much needed self-discovery and tough learning experiences.”
- “Being independent for the first time is scary, dramatic, lonely, complicated, and harsh, yet at the same time, empowering, educational, and exciting.”
- “This is a time where I want to figure out who I am, what I want, what my purpose is in life, but I seem to spend more time learning how much pressure I can handle.”
- “I am still searching, trying to figure out what makes me tick and what my voice is in the world.”
- “This is a time for everything at once, with a feeling like there is no room for error.”
- “I experience misplaced energy from a weak sense of self. A lot of ‘two steps forward, three steps back.’”
I kept reading through this book and found so much comfort in the fact that I was one of many people who were going through this very same thing. And then came the check-list that might confirm it for you as it did for me:
- Do you feel a need to “have it all”?
- Do you feel older for the first time in your life?
- Do you feel pressure to grow up and get your adult life in order?
- Do you often feel depressed, overwhelmed, lost and maybe even a little hopeless?
- Do you ever feel that time is running out when you try to figure out your career and decide whether you want to get married and/or have children?
- Are you stressed out by choices that seemingly will affect the rest of your life?
- Do you feel that you have failed because you don’t know what you want to do with your life?
- Do you over-analyze yourself and your decisions?
- Do you ever feel guilty for complaining about your life when you’ve lived only about a quarter of it?
- Are you embarrassed that you have not figured out or accomplished more?
Though I had said yes to all 10, I started to feel some hope. I was somewhat relieved to hear that other people did too. [To be continued…]
*The list is no longer there, but I kept a copy on my computer.