What is Quarter-Life Crisis and How to Survive It

Being in the twenties and thirties is an important time in life; earning your own money, the resulting independence, the probability of an incoming marriage or the feeling of being married, and the pride of holding responsibility, all make life seem wonderful and happening. However, life is not always the picture of a blooming rose, and we also have to face setbacks. Relationship complexities, career insecurities, fear of failure, money issues; there are so many things that sometimes make life literally ‘hateful’. Quarter-life crisis trouble the people in their twenties and thirties. Although, it is a temporary phase that does not last for more than two years, it can considerably affect the progress of the person. This PsycholoGenie article will help you deal with your inner complexities in a positive and effective manner.


Candid portrait of a young woman working

What is it?

A quarter life, in terms of age means having completed twenty five years. But, in this context, the term should not be taken in its literal meaning. As it was mentioned in the previous paragraph, quarter-life crises affects people in their twenties or thirties. The term was developed in conjunction with the midlife crisis which people in the age group of 37-50 are prone to. According to the theory put forth by Erik H. Erikson, there are in all eight crises that humans can face in their lives, and quarter-life crisis is one among these eight crises. The educated young class, fresh out of college or between a job typically are prone to the effects of this crisis.

Let us now try to grasp the concept in detail. We are born, then we go to school, we complete our further studies, and then search for a job to settle down to a place for ourselves in this fiercely competitive world. For most of us life progresses in this manner. A person who does not have a job or who is financially weak is considered a failure by the wrong concepts of the world. In life we only struggle to make a mark for ourselves and to achieve our set goals. This crisis is experienced by people in the concerned age group, because they find it difficult to cope with the harshness and challenges of the real world. The atmosphere now is not the same as it was earlier; there is tremendous competition in every field and the pressure to perform has made the world a tough place to survive. The earlier generation was quite lucky in this aspect and had enjoyed a less trouble free life when they were in the same age group.

Accompanying this fear of the competitive world can be trouble due to failure in relationships, the feeling of being lonely, competition at the work place, regret due to a wrong career move, delay in marriage, burden to settle down etc., The people who experience quarter-life crisis often think hard and negative about themselves and life; they surrender themselves to negative thoughts quickly. They often feel like they have grown old and thus will not achieve their dreams. Depression, anxiety, and the feeling of heading nowhere are some of the common signs. Research by scientists has identified five distinct phases, which characterize the changing mentality of the affected person.

Five Phases

One: In this phase, the person is wholly confused about his life or where life is taking him. It is like living ‘life on the autopilot’; you don’t have control over yourselves and travel the way life directs you. The person feels trapped, like he has no control over his life. This can be the sense of being entangled in a failing relationship or an unsatisfactory career or family issues.

Two: In second phase, the person realizes that he needs to do something to gain control over life. After feeling trapped he realizes he can do something to change the sad situation troubling him.

Three: In the third phase the person in the desire to settle his life, quits whatever is causing trouble to him. This can be quitting the job or the nonworking relationship.

Four: During this phase the person begins to take efforts to rebuild his life and take it closer to his picture of a perfect life.

Five: In the fifth phase the person makes a commitment to himself to stick to his new interests and choices.

Surviving It

People who have been through the quarter-life crisis have termed it as a positive experience that helped them become a strong person and choose a right career. And it will surely make you a strong-minded person; if you have positively passed the quarter-life phase, there are less chances of you having to experience the other later crises, especially the crisis of the mid-life. We have thus discussed below some ways that will help a person cope up with the depression that is common during this phase.

Think, But in a Positive Way
You have already done too much thinking; but now it is time for you to reanalyze your life to derive the positives from it. Negative thinking only does damage to the mind. Think, ‘how can you help yourself?’, ‘what is troubling you?’, ‘what can you do to mend the wrong in your life?’. Though it may not be the solution that you desire, there is always a solution to a problem. If it is confusion in choosing a right career that is troubling you, you can take the advice of a career counselor. If you feel the world is cruel and you cannot survive in it, keep affirming it that you are strong enough to handle and face the world.

Regret Serves No Purpose
We often tend to do some things in hurry for which we regret later. A regret from a wrong decision can give you sleepless and troubled nights. But does it serve any purpose? No, the only positive outcome of regret is that it helps you learn a lesson from it. Thus do not regret, life is small and you are not meant to waste your precious life thinking ‘why it went wrong?’.

Spend Time With Friends & Family
Someone has rightly said, ‘an empty mind is the devil’s playground’. The more time you spend alone, the more likely you are to think about the negativity in your life. Thus keep yourself engaged all the time and spend time with your family and close friends. Share your worries with them to make yourself feel less burdened.

Work for a Brighter Future
If you are unhappy with your job but also are aware that nothing could be done, what do you do? Generally you feel unhappy and like a loser. But this is a wrong attitude which aggravates your already problem filled life. Staying happy and satisfied with what you have or finding solutions to get what you want is the right way of dealing with problems. Do not keep the problems lying for you to brood over them. Keep working hard to better your life.

Hopefully, the article has helped you grasp the concept of quarter-life crisis. Dealing with the quarter-life crises is not that difficult; learn to be positive and enjoy being twenty five. Always remember, life has no reverse button and no forward button, everything depends on how you react to ‘now’, and now demands you to be a positive and enthusiastic person.

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