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The Quarter Life Crisis: How to Cope

Updated on May 24, 2011

Am I Having a Quarterlife Crisis?

It seems that lately, many of my friends are experiencing this new phenomenon called the "quarter-life crisis". Before delving into the signs, symptoms and treatment, let me attempt to define it. A quarter-life crisis, is a period of intense stress and anxiety in dealing with the turmoil of becoming an adult. There are more scientific ways to describe it, but this, in consensus is the general feeling. The term obviously stems from the term "mid-life crisis", but it's quarter-life since it generally affects young professionals in their 20's. There are many ways to diagnose a quarter-life crisis, but if you're doing any of the following, it's likely you have one.

* Broke down in your apartment building upon receiving an LL. Bean catalogue.

* Told off the waiter who just called you ma'am.

* Felt insulted when not carded at the hottest bar joint in town.

* Removed your birthdate from Facebook.

* Started dating younger guys.

* Realized that your life may consist of working at a bad job, sappy chick flicks and take out for the rest of your life.


*Real* Signs & Symptoms of a Quarter-Life Crisis

These are generally the symptoms used to characterize a quarter-life crisis. Naturally, one suffering from a quarter-life crisis may be afflicted by just a few or a lot of these symptoms! Find out if you're having a quarter-life crisis, or if you're just in a slump.

*Disappointment in your job, or lack-thereof, thanks to this economy. Feeling like you aren't getting paid enough/doing menial tasks.

*Lack of social life, disappointment in your sexual life.

*Fear of a lack of partner forever.

*Fear of getting old/death.

*Fear of "becoming old & lame".

*Feeling ashamed of one's accomplishments (or lack thereof). Feeling like you've been wasting your life.

*Feeling useless to society

*Boredom with partying/socializing

*Fear of financial burdens, particularly school loans and credit card debt.

*Nostalgic for High School and College

*Wanting to have children, a home and wanting to settle down.

*Frustration with social life

Dealing With a Quarter-Life Crisis

There are people out there who are doubtful of the quarter-life crisis. But why should they be? We as a society now accept the realities of depression and mid-life crises, why not quarter-life ones? There really is no scientific or medical explanations for real treatment, but this is just a personal guide to get you through. I, myself am going through it as well, and it can be confusing since there seem to be no real solution. Here are just some things to keep in mind to help you see your life from a different perspective.

Work Life

Feeling like you wasted your money on a great four year education just to be copying and filing papers is a drag. As much as it sucks, we just need to accept the reality that the US economy is not what it used to be. A bachelor's degree is no longer a revered, momentous certification. It is almost an assumed degree. We need to accept that it takes longer to get to the jobs we want, that women are holding off marriage and that it takes a lot more job hopping before the age of 32 than even just 8 years ago. Once you accept that many people are in your same position, it will help you get focused. It will also help if you set a clear goal. Tell yourself that you'll stay at the position for another 6 months, and that you'll start job hunting again. It can be an emotional help, just to know that you'll be looking for better opportunities soon.

Unemployed? Don't feel like it's just you! Hundreds of thousands of college grads are working at coffee shops, malls or are unemployed. This is particularly true of liberal arts majors, as the fields are becoming bloated with capable minds. Keep an open mind when searching for what to do. Realize that a year off from school and work isn't the end of the world. It is only 1 year out of 100 years you will probably live. If finances are an issue, then resolve to take on a job that you would never dream of doing (grocery store clerk); Yes, it's not political science related in any fashion, but taking care of some financial burden will relieve your stress. Don't rule out further education as well. Getting a Masters Degree or Doctorate will help you in your eventual job hunt further down the road.


Dealing With Aging

One of the most common fears when experiencing a quarter-life crisis, is dealing with getting older. Although it is mostly women who suffer from this, men feel it too. Whether it is worrying about the next birthday, looking older, feeling older, lacking energy, or even worrying about death, it all relates to aging.

When dealing with dreaded birthdays, it's best to approach someone who is older, and has just gone through the same thing. My best friend is freaking out about her 24th, and is suffering from the idea that she has wasted a quarter of her life. So know that this is common! Acknowledge that you don't look abnormally older, it's celebrities that look abnormally younger! (Thanks to surgical procedures). If you feel like you're lacking energy, motivate yourself to take a fitness class or do something active! I've recently been hanging out with my older friends a lot more than my younger ones, whom I can relate to more and have begun yoga. It was dreadful at first, but it has helped me a tremendous amount. As someone who hates physical exercise, this is saying a lot. I constantly set goals so that I feel like I'm achieving something.

Another thing that I've been dealing with throughout my own quarter-life crisis, is feeling less *special or shiny* as I used to feel. I've never really suffered from lack of confidence so this was a completely new feeling for me. How did I solve this one? I forced myself to get dolled up on the weekends. I would purposely plan events just to get dressed up. It was annoying and probably a waste of make-up, but it helped me keep my psyche happy and some of my sanity as well.


Maintaining a Changed Social Life

One of the greatest difficulties in dealing with this quarter-life crisis is the change in social life. You're no longer meeting people at Keggers, Frat parties and at College Dems meetings. You used to be the life of the party; you have over a thousand facebook friends, so what's up with your lack of social life? What has happened to your social life is that it is changing. There is a dramatic difference in lifestyle, going from being a college student to a real life professional.

You can no longer relate to the staying out all night on a Wednesday with work Thursday morning; You can't deal with drinking until you are blacked out; And you certainly can't deal with dating someone who doesn't have access to their own bathroom! But are you really ready to date someone with a *real job* and settle down?

A lot of my friends have been dealing with this exact crisis, by heading online. They've experimented in online dating, blind dates and even speed dating! Let me tell you, it's no fun. Who wants to say they met the love of their life through the internet? It's just so un-romantic to us 20 somethings, but are we getting over this hump?

It's important to keep in mind that as we get older, our lifestyles do change. It doesn't mean we have to be boring and go to bed by 9pm; it just means we need to mature a bit. Try and stay positive by realizing that those "true friends" of yours from college may not really be "true friends." It's a great time to narrow down your real friends from phony acquaintances. You no longer have time to deal with so many fake relationships anyway. It's great to find out who your true friends really are.

Try to maintain a social lifestyle by expanding your social network. Keep in touch with those you care about and make fun plans. Try and keep your calendar booked with fun get-togethers and parties so that you don't feel so lame. Realize that making new friends isn't a bad thing, and that people make new friends all the time. Friends are also important to helping you realize that you don't HAVE to have a man in your life to be fulfilled!


Take a risk in life, it's never too late. Always keep that in mind. After all, we're only 20-something, and it's best to find out what we're passionate about in life now. Even if this means "starting over", its best to pursue it. I always try and think of my dad in these situations; who didn't get his PH.D until the age of 36, and who decided to leave his comfortable and tenured University job to become a missionary at the age of 45! It's hard to be positive, but try not to think of your life in such a narrow scope. Remember, it's never too late to take that risk to do what you love in life.


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    • yenajeon profile image

      yenajeon 5 years ago from California

      Hello Kimerly: I would love to help but I need more information. Do you need sources, links or books?

    • profile image

      kimerly hughes 5 years ago

      Hello, I'm currently studying Adolescent Psychology at the moment needing info about Adolescent crisis and learn about personal experience's i have found ur info very helpful however im finding it hard to find more in depth info or situations can u help?

    • yenajeon profile image

      yenajeon 7 years ago from California

      Well, it's a quarter life crisis because they are between 22-30! I think it's a relatively new phenomenon coming up now especially more than even due to the economy. Thanks!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      So, are you friends having this mid life crisis in their late 20s or 30s ? I have heard of the term before but never met a friend who has been thru it.

      Interesting read. :)