by Jari Smith (a 20 something year old Brissie girl)
We’ve heard of the mid-life crisis. Is there even such thing as a quarter-life crisis? Is it made up? And do 25 year old’s now have to buy a convertible?
If you’re somewhere in your mid twenties or thirties, and you feel overwhelmed, or like you’re underachieving or feel a lack of purpose, you are not alone. Whether you want to label it or not, these feelings can put a downer on what is arguably the best time of your life (personally, though, I’m looking forward to retirement – bring on the Shuffleboard and Mahjongg!). What does having a quarter-life crisis look like?
Signs to look out for:
- You have lost your sense of purpose or identity. You feel like you wake up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, maybe you have kids to take care of, go to bed, and repeat. While having these routines are blessings in themselves, the monotonous nature of day-to-day life can put a cloud over what used to be such a clearly known sense of purpose. Who are you?
- You feel like you’re behind everyone else. You may not have started university/TAFE until after everyone else in your school graduated from their degrees and is working in super high-profile positions (according to their Linked In profile). You may not have gone to university or TAFE at all. Everyone else may have investment properties, while you’re still renting from your parents. Everyone else may have a husband/wife and 2 children, and you’re wondering if a dating site is even worth it. I thought I’d finish university at 21, get married at 22 and have 3 kids by 26. Let’s all laugh together.
- You feel the need to escape. You might have a great life, but you are suddenly easily stressed, or you can’t seem to find solutions to the ever-growing problems/issues that arise in adulthood, even seemingly simple ones (from an outside perspective). So you might feel like just getting away will solve the problem. Quitting your job may be tempting, but then you reconsider because getting a new job may prove too difficult. So you feel trapped.
- You get anxious and stressed easily. You may have been a super chill 20 year old. You may not have. But as you edge closer to 30 or 35, you may begin to feel like you’re heading for a breakdown. You suddenly feel less resilient to some of life’s challenges.
So, you might be experiencing a quarter-life crisis, what next?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t necessarily need to know all the symptoms – you’d rather have some answers. So here are some suggestions that may help when you’re feeling down about where your life is headed:
- Read your Bible. God listens. He has gone before us and knows our path. Pray for Him to give you wisdom to get through this awkward period of time in your life. Pray for Him to give you clarity when making decisions.
- Talk to some close friends about what you may be going through. You don’t have to put your life on Facebook (unless you want to), but just talking with trusted friends can give you perspective. They may have similar feelings, in which case you won’t feel alone. You will be able to get through this together, and probably come out the other side with a few things to laugh about.
- Re-evaluate what success means to you. This world tells us that success lies in status, finances, and maybe pro-creation. None of these are terrible things to achieve, but have a deep think about what success really means for you. Shifting your thinking of success can shift your perception of where you are in life. Are you actually behind everyone else your age? This brings me to the next point.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. I’m won’t tell you that you’re perfect just the way you are, because learning and growing is awesome and you can’t do that if you believe that you don’t have to make any changes in life. But you are put on this earth for a reason and no one can or should take your place. When you feel like others are doing better (or worse) than you, remember that this isn’t a competition. Celebrate others’ achievements and grieve their losses. Surround yourself with people who won’t feel threatened by your wins. And don’t feel threatened by theirs.
- Make a change. Do not take this suggestion lightly; it won’t be for everyone. You may feel trapped because you actually need to get a new job (or different friends, leave a toxic relationship, etc.). This feeling might be the perfect catalyst to take the leap you need to take.
- Remember that who you are is different to your career, parenting status, age, etc. Your identity is who God has created you to be. God celebrates your earthly achievements with you, but He has created you to be you. That’s a hard one to really figure out at this age, because it makes it so vague. But finding out your identity is one of life’s awesome challenges. I’ve spoken to people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s who have told me that they keep finding out things about themselves at their age. We don’t have to figure everything out at 25.
- Let yourself just ride the wave. Now that you know you’re not alone in your moments of crisis, let it wash over you. Accept that sometimes you’ll feel down, but other times you’ll feel on top of the world. Rest in God’s peace.
In short, the quarter-life crisis can be tough to get through. We are living in a time of celebrated independence, which can lead to feeling isolated in our thoughts. Understanding that you’re not alone and that these feelings are temporary can help put things in perspective. Above all, trust that God has gone before you and He will guide you.