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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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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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