We all know about mid-life crisis. It’s when men on their way to their 50s start driving sports cars and having an affair and women begin questioning life’s meaning or, more desperately, having Botox and an affair simultaneously. What’s lesser known and not getting the attention it deserves is the quarter life crisis.
This condition afflicts the people you would least expect to be beset by it. They’re the millennials, now in their mid-twenties to early thirties, who have the world at their feet and yet are not thrilled by it. They have finished college, landed jobs and may be starting families. Then suddenly, confusion grips them. Before learning how to deal with the twentysomething blues, know more about what it is and how to tell if you’re suffering from it.
What causes the Quarter Life Crisis?
At present, there are only anecdotal studies on the cause and prevalence of this phenomenon. Surveys done by commercial companies for their own research give us a clue. Media company Entertainment One polled 2,000 young adults in relation to their movie Side Effects and found that one third of them were seeing therapists and one fourth were on antidepressants. Gumtree.com, a UK-based classified ads site, in a census they conducted, found that 86 percent of 1,100 people were feeling intense pressure to earn more money, marry and raise kids, change residence or make a career change.
How is QLC manifested?
Young adults who frequently think they are not meeting the standards they have set for themselves or living up to the expectations of their parents slide into depression, anxiety and loneliness. They feel insecure and lose the enthusiasm of facing a new day, going to work and maintaining a relationship. Lethargy sets in and even doing the daily tasks is a huge effort.
Hence, deadlines are not met, reports are not done, partners feel neglected, debts pile up and the insecurities and anxiety worsen. It’s a vicious cycle. But professional help and family support play a key role in breaking the cycle so that the person in crisis can overcome this particularly difficult phase in life. Otherwise, drugs, alcohol and dangerous sex become convenient channels for escape.
How You Can Help Yourself
Before going to a psychologist or mental health professional, try a little self-help.
1. Embrace an attitude of gratitude.
Are you really as doomed as other people? If you have a job, you’re lucky. With true unemployment rate in the US reaching 12.6%, you should be thanking your stars you can pay the bills. If you have a house, family, friends and a dog, think of the lonely homeless people roaming around. It’s a matter of perspective. Stop complaining and start appreciating your circumstances.
2. Take a step back and reevaluate your goals.
Have you been sidetracked from achieving your goals? Determine the obstacles and eliminate them. It could be lack of skills, fear, or other people. Sign up for courses in skills development or get it free from the internet. Overcome your fear by breaking down your goals into small tasks that look attainable. Get rid of negative people in your life. This one is harder than it seems. So, just avoid them or change how you view them.
3. Stop defining yourself based on what your friends have achieved.
Comparing your own achievements with that of your friends or colleagues is downright depressing. Yet competitiveness is common among Gen Y-ers. That’s because they haven’t found their own identity yet and success is measured by external appearances. But even a high-paying job, flashy cars, designer wear or a beautiful family are only temporary morale boosters.
Instead of measuring yourself against other people your age, find your own path, seek a career that is meaningful to you and create goals that you actually want, not what others expect from you.