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20 Signs You Have a Quarter-Life Crisis

20 Signs You Have a Quarter-Life Crisis

“Is this it?”, I ask myself while looking around our apartment. I made it through college, got a job and moved in with my boyfriend. I’ve taken all necessary steps to enter “real life”. The world is at my feet! But it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, I feel lost and I know I’m not the only one.

When I look around my circle of 20-something friends I see people breaking up, changing jobs and leaving on trips to Asia in search of themselves. Even those high school sweethearts who just bought a house and have a beautiful baby are wondering whether they’re moving in the right direction.

“Quarter-life crisis”, they call it. That constant towering wave of doubt, changes and insecurity. But you know what? We can learn to ride the wave.

We can use our questions to find out what we really want in life. We can turn our insecurities into confidence. We can go out there and find a job that does more than simply pay the rent. But first we need to recognize the signs and admit we’re in a crisis.

1. You feel alone in your struggles

Social media like Facebook and Instagram give you the impression that everyone you know is either on vacation, getting a promotion, pregnant or engaged. They push people to only show the best and hide the rest, but that doesn’t mean “the rest” isn’t there.

Instead of relying on what you see, take the time to listen. Don’t just ask your friends how they’re doing, but ask them about their relationships, their jobs and if they still like where they’re living. Show them that you care and you’ll be surprised of how they’ll open up to you. And of how many struggles you have in common.

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2. You hate your job but don’t see a way out

You hit “snooze” ten times every morning because you don’t want to get to work. Maybe your job just pays the bills but doesn’t even resemble what you’d love to do. Maybe it’s exactly the job you’d planned to do, but turned out terribly disappointing. Maybe you have no idea of what you’d want to do and figure this lousy job at least pays the rent. Now what?

Take your time. Very few people get their dream job as their first job and even those who do might change their mind about it and want something else later. Ask yourself what you hate so much about this job to avoid applying for a similar one in the future, but also look at the skills you’re developing now that you could use to land something better. And keep looking. At job openings, but also around you. You wouldn’t be the first to meet someone new and think: “I’d love to do what he’s doing”.

3. You question your relationship

When you’re in one, you question whether you should be. Is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? Would you marry him? Do you want to grow old with her? This isn’t a high school fling anymore. This is the real deal, shared fridge and all. So what? As long as you’re with someone, these questions will keep on popping up. What really matters now is if you’re happy together and if you’re making it work.

4. You’re sure you’ll be alone forever

If you’re not in a relationship right now, it seems like everybody else is. Heck, they’re even getting married or having kids which mean the best ones are already taken. You’ll never find someone.

Just hold on. Your life is only starting to take shape and create room for new people, new opportunities and new experiences. Give it time and be open. Don’t ignore the rest of the world because you feel comfortable around the people you know. Someone will come along.

5. You’re afraid to chase your dreams

Don’t be. Now’s the time to try, to test, to fail. You’re young, resilient, strong and motivated. Don’t be afraid to try something you might otherwise regret not doing later. If you fail, you can get back up and try again or move on.

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6. You cling on to old friends even though you don’t click anymore

Friends, Sex and the City, That 70ies Show, we all love those series about a tight group of friends that stay friends forever. It seems so appealing, so comfortable to be able to call the same people whenever you want to hang out for the rest of your life. The reality is people change. Everybody follows their own path and sometimes that might take a direction very different from yours. Maybe so different that, at one point, you’ll disappear out of sight.

That’s okay. Some friendships really are forever, but some have a limited lifespan. They belong to a certain period of your life – school, college, vacation – and then fade out.

7. You feel fatter than ever (and maybe you are)

This sign of crisis is more pertinent to some of us than to other, but the fact is that sitting at a desk all day and having takeaway for dinner is not a healthy lifestyle. Get an active hobby, go to the gym, learn how to cook healthy and please don’t think pizza is okay because it has tomato sauce. Your body will thank you.

8. You feel like someone else is living your life

When homework giving teachers cleared the scene, others somehow stepped in to take over your agenda. Visiting family every weekend, organizing the office’s party, driving your niece to dance class, not taking that solo trip because your partner doesn’t want you to. Did you ever make these decisions? Because that’s what they are, your decisions. If you’re not comfortable with them, say no. At work, at home, with family and friends. Don’t let other people decide for you. Learn how to say no.

9. You’re too proud to ask for help

You’re supposed to be able to do this on your own now, right? Yes, on your own, but not alone. Nobody is able to do everything alone and you’ll often get better results if you put your pride aside and ask someone for help. However, that doesn’t mean you should ask them to do it for you. It means getting advice and some assistance.

10. You feel guilty about not wanting to “live the dream”

Remember Facebook and Instagram? Add blogs and you have the perfect recipe for dream fabrication. Everywhere online you read about how you should travel when you’re young, how experiences are better than things, how it’s so cheap to live in Thailand and so rewarding to teach English in China. You feel enticed and inspired at first, but guilt follows shortly after.

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Sure, you want to chase a dream, but does it have to be on the other side of the world? Are cubicles really pure evil? Does this mean you’re not adventurous or smart? Of course not. Someone else’s dream isn’t yours and shouldn’t be. A dream isn’t better because it sounds more daring, strange or impressive than another. And don’t forget that whatever you want to do might seem completely impossible to someone else.

11. You expect things to happen because you deserve them and are disappointed when they don’t

It used to be so simple. You finished your meal, you got dessert. You studied hard, you got good grades. You did your chores, you got your allowance. But slowly you begin to realize that’s not always how the world works. There are just too many people on this planet who want the same thing. Which is why that smooth-talking colleague might get invited to a dinner with the boss and you don’t. Which is why that confident friend always decides where you go for lunch.

Which is why you need to speak up. Being kind, friendly, smart and hard-working doesn’t cut it anymore. If you want something, you’ll need to go for it and ask for it, maybe more than once.

12. You apologize for being who you are and doing what you do

Wasn’t this insecurity thing supposed to end together with teenagehood? Apparently not. You hesitate when people ask what you do, who/if you’re dating or why you still don’t have a car. Why? Your life is yours to lead and the more confident you are about your choices, the further they will take you.

13. You’re afraid this is what the rest of your life will be like

It won’t. Yes, you’ve made some first important decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re permanent. You can switch jobs, partners, houses, hobbies… And sometimes someone or something else will decide it’s time for your life to change. Whatever your life looks like now, it will keep on evolving.

14. You’re doing a lot, but enjoying little

It’s great to do a lot of things, meet a lot of people and be out the entire time, but not if you’re too stressed to enjoy any of it. Don’t just fill up your agenda because you feel like that’s what you need to do. Take the time to figure out what really matters and what puts a smile on your face.

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15. You’re tired. Always

Newsflash: you’re not sixteen anymore. You’re body actually needs to sleep at night and doesn’t handle a party as well as it used to. Caffeine might look like the perfect solution to get all of that work done, but it won’t make you feel as fresh as a walk outside or a power nap. Take breaks. Hit “pause” once in a while. Your body needs it.

16. You let others hold you back

Everybody has them. Friends or family who somehow got “stuck” or are full of negativity. They laugh at your dreams without ever trying to achieve anything for themselves. They tell you to be realistic and give advice that comes down to embracing the status quo. Don’t listen to them. You may love them, you may support them, but you can’t have them influence you. You can stay in touch, but don’t stay in the same place because of them.

17. You compare yourself to others and the result is never pretty

“He has a better job than I do.” “She has a more stable relationship than I do.” “They travel more than I do.” Enough of it already. Instead of focusing on things that other people have that you don’t, ask yourself how they got them and learn from them. Don’t see their successes as your failures, but as a motivation to do better.

18. You feel mediocre at best

You’ve only made it through a quarter of your life and yet you feel like a failure for not having achieved anything grand yet. Really? So you weren’t the best in your class or you aren’t the top performer at the office. You have time. Three-quarters of a life, to be precise, to find out what it is that you’re really good at and excel. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.

19. You think that nobody has your back

Life is crazy. People are busy. “How are you” has become a way of saying hello instead of a question. That doesn’t mean nobody will pause when you really need it. You’re probably thinking of a few people who’d be there for you emotionally, financially or in another way right now. If you are, you’re luckier than a lot of others.

20. You’re terrified

You have no idea what you want to do next year or in five years and you can’t even imagine what your life would look like ten years from now. You think of all the things that could happen and spend hours going over every possible scenario. It scares the hell out of you.

And that’s okay. Everyone’s afraid. Nobody knows what’s coming next. You can never be in total control and you have to accept that. All you can do is rely on the fact that you made it this far and along the way have gathered the skills and confidence you’ll need to deal with whatever is next. You’ll be just fine. Promise.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on May 4, 2021

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

How to Spot Fake People?

When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

1. Full of Themselves

Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

3. Zero Self-Reflection

To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

4. Unrealistic Perceptions

Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

5. Love Attention

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

6. People Pleaser

Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

8. Crappy friend

Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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1. Boundaries

Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

4. Ask for Advice

If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

5. Dig Deeper

Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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6. Practice Self-Care!

Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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