It usually hits you in your late twenties and shakes you to the core putting undeniably in question the purpose of everything. You feel depressed and insecure with an ever-increasing desire to leave everything, run, and never look back. It is called a quarter life crisis, and it is as real and as tough as any other crisis. More often experienced by educated twenty and thirty-somethings with great aspirations and expectations that somehow didn’t came true, a quarter life crisis happens as they are trying to make a smooth transition into adulthood, resulting in them feeling stuck in between two worlds not quite belonging to either.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be stuck in this limbo forever. The most important thing is to take enough time to dig deep into your feelings so as to discover the signs so that you can work on overcoming them one by one.
1.You feel like being trapped by your job.
This one is a classic when it comes to the signs of a quarter life crisis. Whether you follow your career plan designed by your more enthusiastic and confident college-self, or you have awaken one day to realize that your temporary job solution isn’t so temporary four years later, you have that strong and unescapable feeling that you are stuck.
You disagree with anything your boss proposes, you can’t find the motivation to show up to work every day, let alone performing any demanding task, and the thought of yourself doing that work in the next ten years gives you a mild panic attack because it is not something you enjoy and feel passionate about.
The sole reason this one is a classic is because so many people are experiencing it; so keep that in mind next time you feel like no one understands what you’re going through and try calling a friend. Talking and sharing with others can help you get closer, and at the same time you can get good and honest advice.
Yet, no one can make a decision for you. Even though you feel like quitting your current job, you should take some time to think and discover the real reasons for your unhappiness. In some cases, quitting is the only option possible, but try to find positive aspects of it before leaving it for good. Finding the right calling is a necessary, yet timely quest, so make sure you have some sort of safety net before you reach it eventually.
2.You don’t know what to say to your close friends.
All of a sudden you find yourself facing the world alone in a sense that the challenges and experiences you are having might not be the same as your friends’. You find your group drifting apart with no or little common ground, opinions, or values.
This doesn’t need to be the end of your friendship. Quite the contrary, you should share now more than ever, since it is by combining and comparing your different perspectives, that you get the most valuable lessons in life. You get the opportunity to relate on a deeper level now that you are not just friends by chance, but because you choose to.
3.You realize it takes much effort to make your dream come true.
It is a harsh reality check when you see yourself still waiting for your life to take off and things to be the way they were supposed to before reaching the thirty milestone. We all make these scenarios by default without even stopping for a moment to question how much of it truly is our dream, and how much we have picked from our parents’ or society’s plans.
To overcome panic and disappointment that usually accompany this realization, you need to remind yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Try not to think of your road as full of mistakes, but see everything as a lesson and another step further to fulfilling your dreams. This way you won’t have to give up on your dreams, but you will be able to take the challenges one at a time feeling much more optimistic each step of the way.
4.You are worried about whether you make progress fast enough to be successful sometimes.
You give it all you’ve got, yet it still seems like you’re just getting by, constantly struggling with that panicky feeling of being too late for something. That something being your career goals. Your parents had their career figured out much sooner in their life, so it must mean that something is wrong with you.
We all get caught up in those dysfunctional thoughts when we start overthinking about the future and stop enjoying the now. The key is to stay calm and mindful so that you can take a better look at what you have achieved so far. By appreciating and giving yourself the credit for each accomplishment, you will start enjoying the process itself and the success will happen much faster.
5.You can’t help comparing yourself with your friends.
And, somehow, they always win those “competitions”. You love your friends and want the best for them, but you cannot escape the feeling that their lives are perfect, their jobs much more fulfilling than yours, and their relationships more mature. Again, you feel helpless and alone in your struggles.
It is not easy not to compare yourself with others, especially your closest friends, whose lives you listen about so much. Yet, if you don’t want the comparing and analyzing to ruin your time together, you need to remind yourself that you are a unique human being with a unique life purpose and path.
You were never supposed to be like someone else, and that is the beauty of it. You can have similar experiences to share with your friends to help each other grow, but each of you has a unique standpoint and path to take. Let your friends’ journeys inspire and motivate you instead of making you feel less than.
6.You don’t feel happy even when everything goes smooth in your life.
If you still cannot decide if you are going through a quarter life crisis, this is an undeniable indicator. Everything has lined up for you – you are doing great at work, student loan is taken care of, you’ve got amazing group of friends, and your love life is surprisingly good and stable, yet you cannot help but wonder – is that all that is?
Somehow, along the way, you have lost that thirst for life that you had in your early twenties, and you feel lost somewhere in-between, feeling not quite like your past careless self, and not yet like a fully-grown, responsible adult.
This is the trickiest one to tackle, but once you overcome it, you will feel more empowered and confident than ever. Going through a crisis this early in life helps you prepare for the next stage of adulthood and challenges it brings. You need to listen to your inner voice and find what it is that helps you relax and find gratitude. For some, it is spending time in nature with their pets, or re-discovering a hobby you enjoyed as a child, doing sports, doing anything that helps you disconnect from the usual busy routine and make you appreciate the little things in life.
Once you start setting aside some you time, you will transfer some of that appreciation into your “regular” routine and will find it much more enjoyable too. Finally, remember that you don’t need to have everything figured out all the time. It is perfectly normal to feel out of place at times, since that is the only way to find your true self.