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The concept of “mid-life crisis” is not so much about the literal mid-way point of one’s life. You could be 60 years old when you struggle with the signs and symptoms. With that in mind, it only makes sense that a “quarter-life crisis” is a real thing, too. People in the general age range of the mid-20s to early 30 often feel similar levels and types of discomfort. Some are getting married and starting families. Others are focused more on career dreams.

Mid-life crisis gets most of the headlines and movie plot mentions. That does not mean it is either more common or more serious. Therefore, it deserves our full attention.

What Causes Quarter-Life Crisis?

The more obvious and universal causes relate to being in a time of life that involves some drastic changes, e.g.
  • With the possible exception of going to college, quarter-life is often the first time a person lives outside their family home and/or the first time they live alone. This may bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • You’re no longer searching for any job to help pay some bills. This is about choosing a career. The added pressure can be overwhelming.
  • The same goes for relationships. Dating and hooking up transform into long-term relationships and possibly marriage. Contemplating such a commitment is frequently daunting.
Once you’ve entered the so-called “real world,” it can require some serious recalibration:
  • Things don’t always turn out as you imagine
  • Your career choice might not be as compatible as you foresaw
  • Those promises about fun and carefree twenties are not always accurate
  • Making friends in your twenties and thirties is a whole different ballgame
  • You see some folks settling down and wonder if there’s something wrong with you
  • A sense of “running out of time” creeps into your awareness
Signs of a Quarter-Life Crisis
  • Feeling isolated and unsupported
  • Desiring a change but not knowing what that change should be
  • Indecisiveness
  • A series of short, unsatisfying romantic relationships
  • Having no sense of direction or purpose
  • Insecurity and low self-esteem
  • Taking impulsive, risky chances
  • Struggling with anxiety and/or depression
Can a Quarter-Life Crisis Be Managed and Overcome?

The short answer is yes. But, of course, it requires work and some honest self-assessment. A few suggestions to get you started:

Recognize and Accept

You are not alone. Quarter-Life Crisis is not uncommon. In fact, it’s pretty much inevitable and normal. So, you’re not uniquely flawed. You’re a young person trying to figure things out. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can take the steps you need to move forward.

Ask Big Questions and Be Patient 

Don’t downplay or rush the process. Life is about much more than logistical questions. Dig deep to discover what lights you up. How have you changed and evolved? What makes you feel fulfilled and enlightened? But be patient.

There is no rule that says you have to answer all the questions by a certain age. Life is a journey, not a destination. Allow yourself the freedom to explore, change, learn, and grow.

Try Something New

Try many new things. This is an ideal way to discover what you like, how you feel, and who you really are. Take calculated risks and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Mentors are indispensable.

Most Importantly, Get Support 

Quarter-life crisis can be a gift when it’s used to elevate oneself. You are trying to discern what feels right for you. This could mean shrugging off generations of expectations. This is essential work and is made easier when done in the presence of a skilled guide. Speaking with a therapist is a powerful step toward finding your voice, your passions, and your mission. Connect with me soon for anxiety therapy.

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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.