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20 Signs You Have a Quarter-Life Crisis

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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.

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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