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Thanks to pop culture, there’s a general consensus about how casual and fun life is in your 20s. It’s before the responsibilities — and aches and pains — set in. Or at least that’s what we’re made to think. In reality, all phases of life contain ups and downs. That’s why the concept of a quarter-life crisis exists. Challenges exist at any age. For those between, say, 22 and 32 years of age, these challenges can be enough to feel overwhelming.

A major step in managing this situation is understanding what is happening. Knowing what a quarter-life crisis might look and feel like is useful when trying to manage one.

Am I Having a Quarter-Life Crisis?

Before we set out to answer that question, let’s offer some of the reasons why such a mindset can set in on someone in their 20s:

  • Making the transition from college life to what is called “real life”
  • Do I move back home or get my own place?
  • Living on your own — possibly for the first time ever
  • Making new friends, relocating, and other major changes
  • Loneliness after being used to living with your family or roommates
  • Financial worries (paying rent, buying a home or car, student loans, etc.)
  • Maintaining a romantic life while everything seems to be in flux

Changes and challenges like this can vary widely but when considered as a whole, it’s clear that things are not as easy as we’re led to believe.

Signs of a Quarter-Life Crisis
Why Am I Stuck?

You catch yourself looking around (and checking social media) at the progress others seem to be making. Here you are without a plan while your peers have it all figured out. This isn’t true, of course, but a quarter-life crisis can make you feel that way.

I Need a Change… But What?

Restlessness and agitation become steady companions and you feel like you’re running out of time. You’re certain you should be “further ahead” at this point. When you do feel calm, it might be because you’ve switched to autopilot to reduce the stress. It’s easier to avoid planning changes than to deal with the indecisiveness you feel.

I Feel So Alone

We touched on this above. You may have gone from living with your family to four years with college roommates. Now what? Can you afford to live alone? If so, are you okay with being on your own more than ever before? What about friends and romance? It was easy in your old neighborhood and in school. Where’s the how-to manual for adulthood?

Whose Life is This Anyway?

You may feel pressured to follow the well-worn script. Perhaps your parents have not-so-subtly aimed you in certain directions. You wake up one day — pushing 30 and wondering how you got on this path when it doesn’t light you up.

Reminder: You Can Ask For Help

A quarter-life crisis is normal and pretty much inevitable. But that does not mean it should be taken lightly. Such intense contemplation can lead to depression and/or anxiety. Red flags include:

  • Rumination
  • Overthinking
  • Feeling hopeless about your situation and your future
  • Being jealous of others
  • Viewing yourself as worthless

That’s why so many people reach out for guidance when in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. And by the way, there’s something you can do right now to make this entire experience a little less daunting. You don’t have to call it a “crisis.” That may feel like you’re speaking a bad situation into existence. Instead, I invite you to reach out so we can talk about it. Let’s schedule you for a free and confidential consultation.

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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.