Scientists Describe Five Phases of Quarter-Life Crisis, Recommend the Experience

By Veronique Greenwood | May 5, 2011 4:40 pm

crisis time!

Are you in a rut? Is it time to take life into your own hands? Are you ready take a time out to find yourself, and start over?

Are you 25?

It may be your quarter-life crisis knocking, say psychologists studying the phenomenon of 25–35-year-olds having a come-to-Jesus about where they’re going in life after having barely left the starting gates. Given the ambitious list of life to-dos many not-yet-disillusioned people give themselves (build killer start-up, and nab the corner office, and travel the world, and have kids, and be faithful to childhood dreams), it’s probably not too surprising that the phenomenon seems to be widespread among a certain class of people. Let’s come right out and say that like affluenza, this is not likely to be a problem outside the wealthier parts of the world.

In a study presented at the British Psychological Society meeting this week, researchers distilled the five key phases of the quarter-life crisis (via New Scientist) from a survey of 50 volunteers who’d had them:

Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.
Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.
Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.
Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.
Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.

Having a quarter-life crisis may be a good thing: 80% of the respondents said that the experience turned out to be positive. And having your crisis early might keep you from having one when you turn fifty, after the rift between what you always wanted to do (be a chef! Write a novel!) and what you wound up doing (tax law! Wealth management!) has grown far vaster, researchers suggest. More studies are certainly in order, even if we have to wait 25 years for a progress report.

Are you at risk for a quarter-life crisis? The researchers say that idealists who also want to achieve conventional success—marriage, children, corner office—seem to be the population most affected. So examine thyself. Is a crisis in order?

(via New Scientist)

Image credit: olishaw/Flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?
  • http://www.lightsinthedark.com J. Major

    Good to hear I’m not the only one. But it does have to be addressed that without large amounts of cold, hard cash it’s difficult these days to make oneself mobile in the face of a pressing crisis. All too often “I hate my job” turns into “at least I HAVE a job.” Etc etc….

  • Douglas

    Sei bem do que se trata esta tal crise de um quarto de vida, acho que a superei.

  • Mark

    This should be a problem if you are busy comparing yourself to others instead of just being grateful for who you are and what you have.

  • Melanie

    This study applies to me and most (if not all) of the people of my age that I know. (I’m 28.) I often tell myself ‘at least I have a job’ too… I think that for me this time of my life is also a realization that with the job, home, independence, also comes work, chores, costs, and not alot of time to ‘just be’. Even when I’m taking time for myself, I’m thinking about what has to be done next. Also, by this time in life all of us have probably had at least one pretty bad experience, and, as they say – Once bitten, twice shy. Also, it’s all up to us now.

  • Darcy

    It hit me at 27. After a bad breakup with a guy who I thought I was going to marry.

    I packed up, left my job and went to school 1,500 miles away.

    I struggled but had a bunch of fun rediscovering myself.

    I am in debt from the student loans, but my eyes are now open. I am making better decisions, cutting out toxic frenemies, I enjoy my new career, I’m making more money and most importantly I wake up happy after being miserable at a dead end job/ auto-zombie for the last 11 years.

    Right now I’m in phase four. I feel amazing and very positive the future is only going to get brighter.

  • http://backreaction.blogspot.com/ Bee

    It used to be called the mid-twenties breakdown. I’ve had it since I was a teenager. Now I’m waiting to be old enough for my midlife crisis, but the kids came in the way.

  • Danielle

    I’ll chime in with another “me too”! I’m somewhere between stages 4 and 5, at 27. I’m not really in the “at least I have a job” camp….my crisis caused me to go back to university full time. Still not 100% sure what exactly comes after graduation, but at least I’m more solid as to which direction I’m headed!

  • http://twitter.com/lukebourassa Luke

    I can see how this experience would be positive overall, especially if the person going through it is in a relationship or job that really is at odds with what they believe they want out of life. At the same time, I think people who’ve only been working for a few years don’t realize that their working life will bring many changes over time, and what they do now will probably not resemble their job in the future. This lack of clarity on the subject might lead to a feeling of “bring trapped” in a job.

  • Goldfish

    I am 27 and I am definitely in between stage 3 & 4 I was a teacher then because of the budget was let go then I worked at a company totally different from teaching. The environment though was long hours at the office with little pay. That lasted for a few months and now im just trying to regroup and figure out what it is I want out of this crazy time and lige

  • http://www.outliermodel.com CF

    Maybe us science types are particularly vulnerable! My bf and I had our quarterlife crisis a few years back, which prompted some major restructuring, new goals, and a blog. :)

  • Matt B.

    Wouldn’t it be more of a third-life crisis? People rarely live to 100.

  • Terry

    Matt B, the current generation of mid-twenties have a much longer life expectancy than previous generations, so a lifespan of 100 is not infeasible, if still a little optimistic

  • Irene

    @Douglas Acho que este é o primeiro comentário em português que vejo num site cujos conteúdos estão em inglês (fora o youtube?). Penso que a crise colocou em questão duas coisas, a primeira foi como media o meu próprio sucesso. Ficou resolvida no sentido em que percebi que essa medida de sucesso deve vir do interior e não ser ditada pelo ambiente e que o que faz sentido é que tenha expressões diferentes para indíviduos diferentes. A segunda questão é se a vida “que se leva” está alinhada como o que se pretende dela. E aí levanta-se uma terceira que é: como reinventar a nossa vida quando questões de como nos prover nos assaltam e pesam nas nossas decisões?

  • http://Www.laredobootrs.org robbie

    Man, life is so hard. Everything is so expensive. I work 3 Jobs, 1 full-time. and have to clean the house, make or buy dinner, keep refilling toilet paper , toothpaste. Fuq. Kill me now

  • Jessikanesis

    I’m at stage 2.

    In this economy, since I don’t want to move back in with my parents or sleep in the street, stage 3 doesn’t really seem possible. So I guess I’ll just bounce between stages 1 & 2 until I die. Fun.

  • Justin

    I didn’t even know something like Quarter-life crisis existed but thought it was only me feeling all these symptoms at 21. I have a good paying job but 4000 miles away from my family and friends. Made some good acquintances here as well but still doubt if I will ever again have friends asgood and close as I used to during university.

    A girlfriend with whom I was in a serious relationship also left because of the distance issue. And I don’t know what to do. Just trying to hang in here. Saving some money thinking I will begin a life sometime.

    • umair

      same story as mine

  • kate

    Glad to know I’m not the only one feeling this way, however it does make me think that if so many people are going through the same thing then there must be something wrong. Not with us, but with the world we’re living in. As the author says, a quarter-life crisis isn’t something seen outside of wealthy nations.

    It seems to me that our lives are so fast-paced, whereas our grandparents and parents wouldn’t have thought twice about the fact that they would have to work hard and plod on for several years until they started to realise the life they always wanted, our generations believes we should have what we want NOW. I don’t know about you, but I watched a lot of Disney movies growing up and I believe they made me think that life was going to be a fairy tale.

    I think part of the quarter-life crisis is realising that life’s tough, unfair, and rarely glamorous, and that to get what you want you’ve got to work hard for it. And learning that the grass ISN’T always greener on the other side.

    • Hailey

      “The life they always wanted” was also MUCH simpler, and I think that a lot of it (as I’ve actually heard from that generation) is that their choices were much more limited than ours are. I mean for christ sake, the generation after ours may have jobs available in such fields as asteroid mining in outer space! There’s just so much and more coming, it gets really hard.

  • kate

    Glad to know I’m not the only one feeling this way, however it does make me think that if so many people are going through the same thing then there must be something wrong. Not with us, but with the world we’re living in. As the author says, a quarter-life crisis isn’t something seen outside of wealthy nations.

    It seems to me that our lives are so fast-paced, whereas our grandparents and parents wouldn’t have thought twice about the fact that they would have to work hard and plod on for several years until they started to realise the life they always wanted, our generations believes we should have what we want NOW. I don’t know about you, but I watched a lot of Disney movies growing up and I believe they made me think that life was going to be a fairy tale.

    I think part of the quarter-life crisis is realising that life’s tough, unfair, and rarely glamorous, and that to get what you want you’ve got to work hard for it. And learning that the grass ISN’T always greener on the other side.

  • http://www.quarterlifecrisis.co.uk Sheldon

    I’m 25, and having a cracking quarter life crisis. So much so I even set up a website to document it, haha! http://www.quarterlifecrisis.co.uk if you’re interested.

  • Sciencemiss

    What scientists exactly?
    Seriously, cite your sources!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidkyach Davis Mbesa Munyes

    thot it was myth

  • Arrahdre

    I’ve been driving myself crazy the last few months..I mean, losing sleep over it type stuff..I’m 27..almost 28, I live at home with my folks, in school pursuing a degree I “kinda” want, while racking up student loans, working a dead end retail job answering to managers younger than me, and I feel, as blessed as I am with talents, I havent been pursuing them or cultivating them over the last 10 or so years and I’ve been growing tired of the feelings of possible regret that are starting to brew inside of me, and the fear of mediocrity and having to be forced to give up my dreams for survival is frightening..I’m definitely in phase 2..I know I have to do a radical change in my life, but I’m scared to death of failure, by means of pursuing unconventional means of success due to me having an extremely artistic skillset (I’m a musician, and making music is all the truly makes me “happy” career wise) but all the while, I’m coming to face my fears and chase my passions, because I’m coming to the harsh realization that I havent a choice in the matter..its sink or swim time, Ive been obsessed with “finding” myself lately..reading up on personality types at 4 AM (found out I’m an INFP btw which helped me understand alot about myself..)…coming here writing this rant at 4 AM after my thoughts turn toward the darker side of things while trying to get sleep……I’mma mental wreck, but I try to stay positive and believe that with change internally, my life will turn out for the best. always refreshing and comforting to read that I’m not alone, and this is a well documented phenomenon amongst my age group…

    • Dierickx Photo

      I completely understand how you feel. I am an artist too (primarily painting, sketching, but also singing and guitar). I feel cheated because I know I have so much talent to be leveraged and enjoyed, but instead I have been in school (about to finish a Masters) working toward the baby-boomer fabricated fallacy (my parents bombarded me with) that if you get an education you’re set for life. Art was seen as a hobby that didn’t pay.
      I am in stage 2 right now, about to move to Toronto, a city away from home, hoping for a better more exciting life. I have been in a relationship for 9 years and what once seemed like a wonderful prospect for marriage now seems like a death-sentence. I want to end it, but I love him. I need a radical change, but I’m terrified of ruining what I’ve got – what if I’m just being short-sighted or not grateful of what I have?
      I read this article, it kinda helped I guess, but mostly made feel like I wasn’t going crazy:
      http://archives.eyeweekly.com/features/article/55882 

  • Calvin

    yup! definitely phase 2 for me… have been aware of the phenomenon while completing my psych degree at uni, but like most idealists, always thought it would never happen to me, because i know about it, and can take the necessary steps to avoid it, mind over matter, reality is a mental construct etc…

    how wrong i was…

    since beginning to feel ‘over it’, now looking for a radical change!

    but where to??

    *sigh*

  • Shane

    I had one. A MEGA one! Mainly stemming from a terrifying relationship that seemed to bleak-ify and attatch itself to all other aspects of life. First world problems eh? I acted drastically, I ended things and changed things, from what I saw as an ‘awake/there is more to life’ mindset, knowing that it would nearly kill me and not show me any positive results for quiet a while. It resulted in me having to go to counselling for a period and having to some serious learning. But I am glad to report, nearly a year on – taking hold of life has completely paid off. From the bleakest back whole I am 95% recovered, but recovered with a new sense of myself and the world. This is the only life we have and you have to do what you want, because its what you need. Your dreams are not the fluffy, airy fairy, periphery aspects of life they are more concrete than societal obligations because they are inextricably linked to your happiness.  

  • MC

    Thats me to a tee! wow and I thought I was all messed up and retarded. Question is am I too scared to change? and what the hell do I really want??? Can I leave my executive job and corner office that I worked so hard to get??

  • kochalka

    This is me. I am in between phase 1 or 2 and it is utter despair. I am turning 25 next month. I have a slightly good job, but the commute is 20 miles into the middle of nowhere. I can do better, but I’ve got to put a portfolio together. I have a boyfriend 50 miles away (not in the same direction of job). New friends there too. I’m still not transferred out of my JC (7 year plan it would seem). A messy GPA that I’ve got to repair. I live in a city that I only moved to for my last relationship (so now I only know one person, my best friend…and that’s it). So my life is taking a turn for the better in a whole nother city/county but I’m still here isolated. I spend most of my time driving to all these different facets of my life. It’s draining me. Not to mention I am broke almost all the time. I’ve got to be brave and make a change!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14900055 Katrina Elise

    Whoa. This Quarter life crisis thing is way too real for me right now! Here’s my personal reflection:
    http://katrinafludd.com/2012/03/28/quarter-life-crisis-need-balance-now/

  • Sonia

    Well, those 5 phases correspond pretty precisely to mid-life crisis too. And come to think of it, they correspond to the phases of senses of dissatisfaction and desire to fulfill goals and passions at any and every point of the way during the course of life.

    Maybe, just maybe, those are simply universal sensibilities that every person experiences at many points during the courses of their lives. Sure, maybe there’s a statistical correlation or frequency distribution showing that it happens most often at certain age ranges. But let’s not start equipping ourselves for stereotypical “phases” when we really just need to assess our goals and priorities. 

    The researchers’ most important point: the idealists are most affected. Let’s make that the take-away for this article – not “Can I blame my worries on quarter-life-crisis?” but rather, “Can I see past societal conventions and diagnoses, and just live with passion for my life?”

  • Kaya

    Well I am in stage 1 of the life crisis. I am a 26 year old college graduate who is stuck in a part time shop job with kids much younger than  myself. I am glad that I am not alone and gives me some comfort but I am not sure what to do with myself anymore??? 

    Great blog though!!!!!!!

  • Trialsofthetwenties

    I have been through a quarterlife crisis – well am still at the tail end of
    it as I turn 28 – and I have written an e-book about it, hoping to support
    others going through the same turmoil and hell. Check out the link – on my
    website -elizabethglanville . com

    you can download it for $4.99.

    I really hope it can be of some help to at least some people. Contact me at
    trialsofthetwenties [at] gmail.com

    Elizabeth xx

  • Ric117

    I’m 23 turning 24…it must have hit me early. In my opinion quite bad but who knows maybe it will be over sooner since it hit me early. Just started getting bad enough that I began doing research on the topic…and I seem to fit the “profile” pretty spot on. 

  • kiwi

    fuck i’m still in phase 1. it’s been years

  • Alex

    I guess Phase Two prompts us to look for lists and studies like this, huh?(http://inoveryourhead.net/the-complete-guide-to-not-giving-a-fuck/ and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304811304577366332400453796.html?mod=lifestyle_newsreel have proven the most helpful to me so far)I’m 25. I was lucky enough to graduate in 2009 (the year of the great job market crash) from a liberal arts college. I was working at a serving job, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling it wasn’t good enough, or the pay wasn’t enough, or the RESPECT that came with that position wasn’t enough for all these “grown-ups” I’m trying to fit in with all of a sudden. So in desperation, I quit that job and applied to work on on organic farm in Scotland. I sold or junked most of my stuff, said goodbyes, and got as far as the UK airport. They sent me home because I didn’t have a work visa (for volunteer work, but…another issue, another day). From there, I was crashing on couches and mooching off anyone who would let me. I’ve had a stable job (selling vacuums) for over a year now. But even though I have it, stability’s not enough, is it?

    I’ve been trying to make time for creativity, but my lack of motivation sucks it all out of me. I’ve got it in my head that because I’m not on the road to an Oscar with the short movies I’m making, it’s not worth it. I’m letting my imagination dictate what other people expect, and I try and modify my behavior by it — how messed up is that?! I’ll never get anywhere!!!I feel like I’ve completely isolated myself from my friends and family, and like they don’t care. But even if they ARE concerned, I’m too trapped in my own head to notice. I feel sooooo guilty about not seeing friends, not being in a creative career, and not…I don’t know, “actively participating” in life anymore. I feel desperate to get back out there, to socialize, to share my life with other people, but then the next minute I feel exhausted, depressed, boring, and trapped (I’ve been wallowing in isolation, what could I possibly contribute to a conversation?). And I end up concluding that “people” (every person in the universe) don’t have time or patience for a bat-sh*t crazy sad-sack like me, so I smoke pot until I don’t care anymore, and waste another night.Thanks for listening. I’m desperate, and trying to get out of this without destroying aspects of my life that really matter – even if I don’t know what they are. I wish I could “induce labor” on these other steps. Any tips?

    • Shane H

      Hey man, I have been in the EXACT same position as you. You need to make a change. A change that is going to suck balls at first. And to motivate this change you need to step outside yourself and try to see things in the long run, more objectively so as to realise: whats the alternative to this dirge?  If I keep this up I will only give in more and more to the mindfuck – and thats all it is: a mindfuck. This overall misanthropic sense of the world is just your 127 hours – now get that rock off your fucking arm…

      First of all, every shit thing you are doing is strengthening and backing up all the other shit things in a viscous cycle. Weed/depression/tiredness/lack of enthusiasm are all best buds … weed in the long term rots your will and your mind … if there were any answers to truly gain from weed you would have brought them back from weedland by now -

      1. STOP SMOKING FUCKING WEED FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. Substitute it with wanking, stretching, cycling at night, movies with a friend, script writing, anything etc.

      2. FUCKING EXERCISE! Start off very small at first. Get that blood flowing, wake up your brain and body. And if you don’t feel like it because you are envisioning the relief of being stoned or general wallowing; substitute that thought with where those activities get you in the long run.

      3. FUCK EXPECTATION… don’t be too hard on yourself. Most people feel like this at some point and with varying levels but manage to go on to be really fucking happy. You will do this all in your own time, life is the thesis, fuck the rat race and finish line. No one is perfect. Set yourself microscopic tasks on repairing yourself at first.

      4. WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR FUCKING PROBLEMS IN A FRANK, HONEST, DIRECT WAY, THEN GO TO WORK ON THEM. (All these FUCKS are so unnecessary) Observing your big, tangled, mental fuck knots as a series of smaller inter related thread annoyances can put things into perspective.

      5. FORCE YOURSELF TO GO OUT AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH, GO ON YOU CAN DO IT! Not to get laid or impress (cause getting laid or drowning your sorrows in someone else won’t change you if weed didn’t) but to HAVE FUN, FORGET AND RECONNECT. 

      6. GIVE THE FINGER TO FACEBOOK AND TV,

      7. LISTEN TO DEFIANT MUSIC AND READ ‘FUCK THE NORM/SOCIETY’ LITERATURE AND MAKE A ONE YEAR SUGGESTION (NOT PLAN!)

      Hope this helps,
      Shane.
      Ireland.

      P.s you think  weed is good and addictive. Wait until you try being a light and open person who gets fulfilled by the little things … shits more addictive than crack! Remember everyone figures it out in their own way. This advice is specific to my biases. Someday you might tell someone something similar.

      • Alex

        Thanks for the advice – and for phrasing it like that! I don’t think we need people to sit and sympathize with our problems ( I know I talk about them…a lot…). Personally, I need what you gave me: a swift, verbal kick in the balls.

        I can definitely turn the weed back from crutch to recreation. It’ll just take some discipline (and disciprine…come from within). But the biggest challenge is gonna come with your points 3 through 6. It’s definitely got me thinking in the right direction, though: I don’t have the weight of the world on my shoulders – we’re all sharing it. I’m as unique as I am inconsequential. It’s actually a liberating feeling! The pressure’s off. I don’t have to be prime minister, or cure cancer, or climb Mt. Everest. I could, but nobody expects me to — no matter how much pressure I put on *myself* to (as you put it) run the rat race and get to the finish line.Thanks again, Shane. I was looking all over the place at blogs and websites and articles, all of which listed every symptom and feeling I was going through — but then they stopped before the “it will get better and here’s how” part.

        • Shane H

          No problem man. Glad I could help out in any capacity. Fuck the mindfuck :)

      • the dude

        Shane H. man.. I thats what i needed to hear/read. Im 21 and pretty big stoner and kinda cant get a good high anymore and end up the night crashed out or fucking freaking out, thinking i saw or hearing someone near.. this year i’ve had few deja vus but really big ones and two of them really made me question if I was dreaming or dead..or whatver.

        also i keep thinking about the fact that my parents of whom were the best i could of had (even though i was far from the best kid) will die one day. and i feel like i really am not enjoying them enough for the time they have left alive, and they are only in their late fourties.. this is fucking crazy.

        The difference is that in my situation I just landed this awesome job with big benefits but the thing is, i really got lucky or it was divine providence as this job was offered to me and i wasn’t expecting it. And ive been helped by my boss every step of the way of the training process, he is a great boss and I truly respect the company too, and im started officially Monday next week, thing is, i feel like i don’t care this great opportunity that is being offered to me.

        I mean even when i realized that i had passed my interviews and got the job, I went through the studying and passing that big mother fucking 4 hour test,

        I still don’t feel exited by the prospect of being successful or even being happy. I dont go out anymore, used to get shit faced drunk and party with my friends, now i sit in a car with my weed buddy till 2:30 in the morning toking up and listening to pink floyd and porcupine tree.

        I never even heard before in my life that there were such a thing as a quarter life crisis, and now i know and am more relieved. stop smoking weed is going to be tough because its really awesome..i see now why i should kick the monkey and concentrate on the present and future.

  • Greed18

    Check out this awesome blog about living through a quarter life crisis!

    http://ummnowwhat.blogspot.com/ 

  • Jill

    My early 20s were a dream; I had enjoyed great successes and amazing opportunities personally and professionally. Then when I turned 26, I woke up to a bitter reality and a heap of challenges.

    It seems like the past year has been a slow-moving, horrific accident. In May of 2011, I graduated with my Master’s degree from a prestigious East Coast institution and one of the best for my field. I sacrificed a lot and moved nearly 800 miles from home to take on this endeavor. Since then, I have been on a long and painful job hunt filled with rejection after rejection and self-doubt. I live in a major city where the main industry is my field, yet I can’t seem to land a suitable job! I’m under-qualified; I’m over-qualified and have had no success with positions that seem to be greatly aligned with my background and skills. I’ve done everything the career counselors have recommended… my resume and cover letter are in top shape after many reviews from qualified individuals; I’ve done networking, been on informational interviews, reached out to alum, attended job fairs and info sessions, applied for a good variety of positions… but no luck!

    I haven’t moved back home yet, but I live in a pretty run-down place.To make matters worse, I have a mountain of loans to pay off.
    I am also trying to heal from a big break-up that transpired last year. I was in a relationship with someone with whom I thought I would be settling down. He ended it a semester before my graduation. I’m still figuring out ways to get myself out of this rut. I try with great might to keep positive, and I have great people around to help me look on the brighter side; but it seems like every day is a struggle.I think I’m rising to Phase 2, and really I looking forward to better and happier times.

    • http://www.facebook.com/craigjamieson88 Craig Jamieson

      Hey Jill, I really feel for you. I am in a pretty similar situation, although perhaps I’ve not put in the same leg work as you. I always wanted to be an airline pilot, so I worked so hard through school, and later university. I ignored social events, social development and enjoying my subject as an art rather than a tool, because I was so intent that my success now would somehow (and this is where I look back on myself and frown for being stupid) spawn a magnificent life that was well paid, and that I enjoyed the challenge of. I graduated with a great grade but just couldn’t find a job, much like it sounds like you’ve experienced. I found myself in a position where I was too in debt to do anything but look to achieve, somewhere. I’ve now moved 300 miles away from home, from my girlfriend, from meaningful friend relationships to find myself in a company that have no time to train me up because they’re so stressed out about everything, so I’m struggling by, wondering why I even bothered to try to achieve in the first place (now that I’ve disconnected myself from everything I love, or loved) and wondering when this’ll end. The 30 rejections I’ve recieved from job apps in the last couple of months suggest not soon.

       Ironically, I’ve grown up a lot the last few months and realised that achievement means nothing if it tears you away from the friends you make, the people you love and the fun side of life. Now I have a new ambition, and it’s to hope I can get that back one day. 

      The author mentions Affluenza, which is interesting, because the Wiki article refers to downsizing and looking to do just what I’ve mentioned. Maybe the key to happiness is to be happy with the now, not what you could have in the future. 

      • Jill

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Craig. I am sorry for the uphill struggle you are facing too. We’re all in the same boat!

        Things seems to be growing more difficult for me. I just learned this week that a colleague of mine from grad school, who is a good four years younger, landed a consulting job with one of the most prestigious organizations in our field. I don’t understand. She went directly from her BA to MA with little work experience. She adopted an interest in the field during the transition between her degrees. And she got the job a month after graduation! 

        People are so quick to blame the economy for my situation… but how can you blame it when things like this happen?

        Whatever happened to working your way to the top not starting out there?

        Meanwhile, I have been trying everything, and after more than a year after my graduation, I still don’t have a stable and decent job! Everything I have tried seems worthless, useless. 

        I went to excellent schools. I have good work experience under my belt. I even have field experience, having worked abroad. Plus, I speak more than two languages. It’s so incredibly frustrating… I have been working hard, building my expertise in this field for 8 years.  

        I have been temping in an administrative role in an organization whose work is related to what I want to do, but not directly. Anyway, the head of the department spoke with me this week, wanting to get a sense of my goals and background. He said that though my credentials are impressive, this may not be the best place to leverage my career… because of the administrative/support role and because their mission is not directly aligned with my goals. 

        After more than a year of job searching, this is my best prospect… and according to some, it could be a potential setback to my career… as if the year of searching hasn’t been detrimental enough! Now, what am I supposed to do?

        Things just don’t seem to be getting better. :(

        • Tony

          Hi guys,

          This crisis is killing me honestly!!!
          I am 28 years old and spent an amazing time untill now. Great childhood, great parents, many good friends, 4 brothers and sisters, stunning girlfriends, great at sports,  travelling the world feeling so fucking special.
          Since I started my job though I feel soo miserable. It is not the job though, for I could not ask for a better job nor better boss. Pay is more than good, and responsibility is high. Actually you could not ask for a better life.
          Still I feel stressed about life, having a horrible time sleeping waking up nearly every night thinking about my future. I don´t want to do this all my life, there must be more to life than this, I am scared.
          I am happy to learn that it is a rather common situation for people at my age and most of my friends are feeling the same way.
          I want to change something and move to another country, and will do as soon as I have a litlle more than one year of work experience. Hope everything will turn out for the best.

          Jill, if there is some way for you to buy a ticket to South America, go there travelling for half a year! You have not been living and employees are not looking for great grades, unless your some kind of super brain. They are looking for people that are open and have seen things in life and know how to communicate and persuade other people. I am sure things will turn out good for you, but you should focus on learning things by experience, and forget about books for a while.

          Good luck

        • http://profiles.google.com/craigjamieson88 Craig Jamieson

          Hi Jill, I don’t know if you’ll read this. I’ve just come to the realisation that I’m moving to Phase 3. During my adolescence I forwent a lot of “fun” to concentrate on doing well. I realised that however competitive you be, you almost can’t maintain a lifestyle of achievement and it sounds like you being superseded/paralleled by somebody that showed no interest before echoes this. 

          I’m not sure what the point of life is, but my definition of where I want to go has shifted fairly significantly, even in the last year or so. The only real purpose in life is to be happy and to make others happy. Work is hard, and to maintain a job that is so necessary in this day and age requires a certain amount of marketable skills and dedication. But I really believe that what’s important is what you do in your own, free time. You’re free to do what you want, so do it. Get to a music festival, volunteer to help at a local kids club or something else that you love doing and want to share with the world. Make your life your own and stop putting it in the hands of others, by allowing yourself to be defined by your success. It gives you a lot more control and responsibility over your own actions, and makes you realise happiness comes through helping others and sharing the good times. 

  • V_f_s

     I am promoting the 5 year anniversary of the
    release of the Quarter Life Crisis movie by doing on campus college screenings.
    I want to help people find solace with their quarter life crisis by sharing my
    personal story with others going through what I went through in my twenties: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1543700/

    Fans of the movie contact me on facebook and share
    stories of how they identified with the movie. I am sure you have similar
    experiences. If you need solace, watch the movie because I hope you can relate to what I went through in the movie with your own personal experiences. Check out my movie:https://www.createspace.com/276299Vince Sannuto

  • Blue

    I am 21, and in the past year I have made some self-observations that have impacted my outlook on life.

    All around me, I see everyone is better off than me. Everyone is getting THAT job, everyone is graduating with 4.0 averages, everyone is in a perfect relationship, everyone looks great and life is good.

    But me?… I feel like I am stuck in a rut. It feels like I am trapped. I constantly asked myself, why can’t I live a great life like everyone else? 

    For a long time, I thought I was lazy and everyone else believed that to be so. But then I did some introspection and found that I really don’t care about all of those things which seem like a great life. I deluded myself into believing that.

    Then I discovered that I have been living the past several years in depression and anxiety. I used to deny it for the longest time. Of course this does not stem from nowhere- it comes from years and years of pressure into succeeding and achieving and trying to live life like the aforementioned.

    Of course, this backfired as my coping mechanism has led me into the dark hole i am in today. I have little passion for life. Things just seem so bleak. I am constantly flipping between phase 1 and phase 2.

    And yet… Sometimes I do see a light. Sometimes I do see a place where I can get to, where I can get out of here and live a better life. Is it a fantasy? Could be, but I’ll never know unless I try. But I’m too scared to try.

    There are so many expectations thrust upon me… From my parents, and peers… To succeed, to become a doctor, and all that. I honestly don’t know if I believe in that any more. But, I have a dilemma as I do not want to disappoint those around me. And yet I do, because I am not achieving anything that satisfies anyone.

    People tell me I have to start living my life now… But I don’t feel ready. Like the time and place is wrong. But I guess that thinking will keep me from living my life comfortably…

    I don’t know what my goal is anymore. One could say happiness, but I had a very flawed and uncomfortable idea of what happiness was for me, and it led me into despair.

    Maybe one day… It’s just the hope that I’ll experience life for what it truly can be is what keeps me going.

  • Jessikanesis

    I feel like I know exactly all the things I would want to do if I could do anything, but since this is the “real world” I have to devote all my time and energy to paying bills (just barely). I kind of thought that the trade off for selling out and working 50 hours a week for years for a job I can’t stand would at least be some financial security, but I have to budget like a maniac just to keep my rent check from bouncing. I went to college, I work hard, I solve problems proactively, I treat everyone with respect. In return what do I get? Raise freezes for 4 years and slashed benefits all around. Every year my paycheck is worth less and less, age 30 looms closer, and all of those trips I thought I would get to take after college seem very, very far away. Where is my simple life of adventure?

  • Samanthaayubi

    I’m 24 and somewhere between phases 1-3. Though no one seems to mention the depression that comes along with the confusion :/

    • http://www.facebook.com/craigjamieson88 Craig Jamieson

      Hey, I feel you. We’re talking clinical depression here, random bouts of sobbing and feeling unable to take it. Keep working through it, maybe things will be better at the other side, if you make them better.

    • trina18

      I know exactly how you feel…been going through bouts of depression and feelings of discontent

  • UlikeSpagetti2

    i am 25 and i just quit two jobs and got fired from one job…i got a religious degree and now im not that religoius…hehe…i have had several failed relationships…being 25 for me has its ups and downs…the anxiety, stress, it all is there intact…

  • HannahRose

    uuuggghhh…i relate to this crisis WAY too much! I’ve felt it coming on since my teen years. I worked my ass off to go to an awesome private liberal arts college that I totally loved, worked in between classes just to survive, was on foodstamps for 3+ years, busted ass to study abroad in Scotland, always worked really hard to reach my dreams and goals. I have always been the black sheep of my friends because most people my age I know are trustafarians whose parents fund their every needs, and they have no fucking clue what it’s like to have to pay back 50K of loans by yourself in a failing economy.
    I was screwed out of all of my financial aid my last year of college because of my mother’s high income that had to be included on my FAFSA, when I got absolutely NO HELP AT ALL to pay for tuition or living expenses. Nice.
    Somehow I’ve survived and carved out a meager living for myself, but there is always this relentless inner voice that’s saying “is this really it?”
    There has gotta be more to life than mere survival. I know I’m intelligent and resilient with a lot to offer for the benefit of the world, but this current economic/social system is completely outdated for my generation. Where are we to start?
    I am more clear of what I want to do and where I want to go, but how the hell do I even begin grad school without copious amounts of cash to begin with when I have to budget like hell to just pay for rent and food?
    I’ve come so close to giving society the finger, packing up all my stuff and setting up camp in an eco-village somewhere and grow my own food in community. It’s survival, but at least it’s survival with heart and community, unlike this toxic urban survival with no hope, and no nature around.
    I do believe it is totally normal for our age group to go through this “quarter-life crisis” bus I also can’t help but notice that it may be exacerbated by this outdated, greedy, capitalistic, pit of doom we call “civilized society” that has so many of us tearing out our hair, wanting to escape to a better world we know we should have by eating mushrooms and running off to the hills where there’s more trees than people….ugh…what are we to do if we don’t have any family support or a trust fund and we’re just getting started?!
    So many of us deserve so much better than this society and economy allows us!!!
    We must consciously reconstruct the system we want to live in. We must connect with one another like-minded souls. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    • umair

      u r 100 percent rite,,that can b a solution

  • trina18

    I’m in kinda the same boat as you guys….I’m about to graduate with a Master’s degree and have just realised I’m not ready for a corporate job…I don’t even know if I’ll ever be ready for one…I remember when I was younger in my school days where I would hang out with my friends everyday, have no worries, go to parties and socialise…now I’m stressed about work, uni loans, and worst of all I feel trapped- especially as I’ve been in a relationship for the past 2 years and we’re talking about settling down and it’s just dawned on me that I don’t want all of that now…I really want to get out and go somewhere where I don’t know anybody and get out of my comfort zone and do something before I settle down and realise I wasted my twenties…I don’t live in the moment anymore as I’m always worried about the future and having this nagging feeling like something is missing constantly. I go through a thousand emotions a day where I feel happy, then sad, then content, then completely discontent. Between my undergrad and Master’s I went to Canada for only 3 weeks but it was by myself for the first time and I loved it..I wanted to keep travelling and wasn’t yet ready to come home. But I had my partner waiting for me. All I wanted to do was keep going, keep meeting new people and having new experiences but I had to come back. Then after a while that feeling went away and I thought I got over it, but now it’s come back again. I didnt even realise what I was going through until I read an article about this quarter life crisis and realised its describing me and my situation..so after graduating I’m planning to drop everything and work and travel overseas. I don’t care if I’m all alone, I’d rather be like that than feeling like this in my comfort zone

  • http://www.facebook.com/annuhbananuh Anna Lim

    I turned 25 yesterday. Woke up today with a hangover and the harsh reality of living paycheck to paycheck and feeling at odds with absolutely everything in life. For anyone going through the turmoil and angst during this rough time, believe me when I say you are not alone.

  • Hailey

    It hit me at the tender age of 22… and at 23, It’s gotten much worse but I have also made a lot of progress towards being the person I want to be while still being quasi-realistic. The weekly panic attacks are still an issue though.

  • Hailey

    I’m somewhere between 4 &5… but since it’s not happening fast enough I’m still struggling with phase 2.

  • Laura Marie

    Wow! I taught I was the only one going through this mental frenzy as I’ve called it. It’s really such a time of mixed emotions. From my experiences, I feel it comes as majority of times we’ve been in Education since 5 years upwards, we go through high school, uni. We party the booyak out of it in Uni and then BOOM it’s graduation. Obviously a degree is not sufficient and there is a form of security by going back doing a masters. This notion I’m safe from the big bad world of decisions for another year.

    But hey wait! A masters is friggen tough, stressful and hard work. So then what you graduate, look for a job don’t get one. Then what, you drink with old pals compare your life to everyone, feel a looming pang of depression….”what did I do” ”How did I feck it up” “why didn’t I do a different uni course” All these mental taughts. Then to top it all off, your faced with the panic of ”oh shit wait I’m still single, but now it’s a little different I’m a single grown up now I need a MAN quick”.

    So after a good few months, of societal pressures, rejected cv’s, man searching, numerous self help books, fortune telling readings and a degree, diploma and masters and a largely scary debt.

    I’ve decided FECK! Let’s save what bit of money I have work as a waitress until Feb and take off to Australia for a year, do what I’ve always wanted to do! Heck I think that’s what we’re supposed to do at this age just live it up for a bit. Self discovery and all that jazz!

    Well that’s me for now.

    Middle finger salute to you quarter life crisis, tell your cousin Midlife he doesn’t need to call to me!

  • http://twitter.com/DanielDickey Daniel Dickey
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