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The Quarter-life Crisis

Updated on November 7, 2014

Do you remember being a kid? Those were the times when our days were composed of playtime, snack time, and nap-time.

We would laugh about the silliest of things like how that funny face our parents do would always crack us up.

We also cried for the shallowest reasons like that time we weren't allowed to go out to the playground.

We would get into fights with other kids of which the pretext would easily be forgotten, it’s like in split second it doesn't even matter anymore and we’re back playing tag with them again.

As children, we already experience a variety of things but it felt simple. During this time, problems were fleeting and the good times kept on rolling.

It’s as if everything that we could think of was possible and the possibilities were endless. It felt like we could conquer the world.

It’s a shame we don't remain as kids forever that eventually we all grow up. We realize that we aren't as invincible as we thought we were.

Things suddenly took a turn and there is no reverse button. It suddenly became harder to find things to smile about when problems bombard us everyday. Student loans, rent, and taxes become part of our lives.

It’s crazy how lost we 20-somethings could feel when just a decade ago we felt like we belong in such a safe place.

This feeling of doubt wasn't something you’d expect to be facing until your 40s, the midlife crisis wasn't supposed to come so soon. However, all the confusion confirms the reality of the Quarter-life crisis.

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This is the time we start doubting our lives and our choices as we transition into adulthood. Confirmed by the psychologist Erik Erikson where he states that one of the eight crises of development is faced by people during this age.

This is the time you realize that life isn't entirely ideal and far from easy. All those dreams you had as a child took so much work and you’re not even sure those are still the same things you aspire for. Life’s a mess really and you’re a complete mess too.

Ned Vizzini talks about this quite well in his book It’s Kind of a Funny Story to quote the main protagonist Craig "'Forget the mid-life crisis,' I say. 'It's all about the sixth-life crisis.'...’Before you had to wait until you were twenty to have enough choices of things to do with your life to start getting freaked out.

But now there's so much stuff for you to buy, and so many ways you can spend your time, and so many specialties that you need to get started on very early in life...’. 'So there are like--so many people angling fore success and so many colleges you're supposed to get into...'. 'So now' I continue, 'instead of a quarter-life crisis they've got a fifth-life crisis--that's when you're eighteen--and a sixth-life crisis--that's when you're fourteen. I think that's what a lot of people have.'" This is quite scary if you think about it, you basically end up with a life of continuous crisis.

What makes this quarter-life crisis so hard to deal with though? For one, a lot of life-changing decisions are made during this time of our life, decisions that we don’t think we are ready for. We have to choose what course we want to take up in college when most of us don’t even know how to do the laundry or make our own breakfast.

We then graduate and choose what path in our chosen career we would want to take; this is the time we wish there weren't so many to choose from. In the workplace, we realize how hard it really is and maybe start doubting how poorly we decided on things but decide to stick to it.

There also comes the pressure of settling down and starting a family for which you have no learned life skills that would prepare you for it. You are left with into a spiral of self-doubt where everything seems to be out of control. It’s frightening to feel so lost when you thought you would have everything figured out by now.


What could we do to somewhat ease everything out and at least survive past our 20s? The hardest part of it is to accept that we are indeed lost.

It’s hard to admit this to ourselves when we've worked our hardest at the things we wanted only to end up falling short. We just haven’t figured it out yet and that is okay. We cannot continually feel guilty about these things and take it as if we've failed at everything.

Also remind yourself that you are not alone in this, your peers might not show it but a lot of them are also going through the same thing. Don’t compare your achievements with others for you will never win.

Only measure your success by the amount you have grown. The best we can do is to be kind to ourselves and learn to forgive ourselves. We must not put so much pressure on ourselves that we forget to see the little things we are accomplishing.

The quarter-life crisis will pass too, if you give it time. Clarity of mind and a sense of direction in your life will come when the time is right. Don’t rush knowing things and if you feel stuck just remember to keep moving


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