Looking back on the past few years of my life, I wish I'd had someone to give me advice on ways to survive a quarter-life crisis. It's so strange coming out of the other end of it, I feel an amazing sense of calm, clarity, and purpose. During my quarter-life crisis I felt anxious, stressed, and lost. For those lucky enough not to have experienced their quarter-life crisis yet, or those who skipped it — I have never encountered these heroes, but I salute you – you're in for a bumpy ride.
The quarter-life crisis is a funny creature that sneaks up on twenty-somethings from out of nowhere, and puts us under a spell to believe that we are miles away from reaching the goals we set ourselves as kids, that all of our friends are leading much more successful/happy/exciting lives than we are, and makes us so acutely aware of our own mortality that we feel we need to experience everything life has to offer us right this second. The quarter-life crisis is a millennial monster as our generation was lead to believe that we could do anything we put our minds to, that we would get our dream jobs straight out of college and everything would fall into place. Unfortunately, life can sometimes be a raging beast. That's just the reality.
However, there is a gleaming light at the end of the tunnel and I'll be there, waving you through from the other side. This is what I learned from my quarter-life crisis which will hopefully help get you through the darkness.
1. Don’t Be Afraid
Most of us know that fear can ruin your life. It can stop you from doing what you really want to do and make you settle for a mediocre existence. If your quarter-life crisis centres around FOMO or wanting to do something bold but you're waiting for "the right moment," stop making excuses and just do it. You need to feel the fear and do it anyway.
When I was going through my quarter-life crisis, I hit rock bottom when I found myself working in an industry that was the opposite of the one I'd studied and not having any spare down time, let alone any time to work on my creative endeavours. I was a robot on autopilot, a shell of my former self, doing what I thought I had to do to make ends meet. This came after a period of time that I spent studying for an altogether different career, which I realized I hated and then quit. To have two huge knock-backs in the space of about a year was agonizing and almost broke me. I was afraid of failing in my dream career, I was afraid of what other people would think of my rash move, and I was afraid of the risk involved. But after I discarded my fear like the trash it was, I made the leap of faith into the industry of my dreams and my bravery was rewarded tenfold.
2. Stop Comparing
In order to be happy, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. So what if your BFF has a huge house or a new baby or a loving partner or a dream career — be happy for them. If these are things you want, stop whining about not having them and go out and get them. If they're things you only think you want, then discover what it is that you want. Stop pining over social media; it isn't an accurate portrayal of people's lives, it's just the good bits which have been carefully picked out and edited. Check out what Essena O'Neill's up to if you need any further persuading on the fact that social media isn't always quite what it seems.
3. Reflect & Discover What You Really Want From Life
What makes you happy? It seems like a simple enough question, but when you're stuck in the rut of your quarter-life crisis and your brain is working a million miles an hour, it's difficult to pin it down sometimes. Take a mental step back from your situation and make a list of things that would make you happy right now and start doing them. I love getting out into nature, so when I was going through my quarter-life crisis, long beach walks would really help me. I found when I was doing these little things which made me happy, I was in a better frame of mind to contemplate the bigger things, such as what kind of career would make me happy or where I might want to live in the future. Start with baby steps and the rest should fall into place.
4. Don’t Panic
Panic attacks are the worst, so try and steer clear of them if you can. That's easier said than done when they can just pounce on you out of the blue. The key thing to remember while trudging through your quarter-life crisis is perspective. You are the only person in your situation so obviously it's really difficult to see it from an outsider's point of view or without emotion. What helped me on days when I felt at my worst was to try and remember that whatever I was going through was probably not that bad in the grand scheme of things and that there are far worse things happening in the world. When I would feel overwhelmed with everything I would put on my pajamas, watch my favorite TV show or movie, and eat my favorite foods as these things made me feel comforted and helped me put my personal world to rights.
5. Stay Positive
Staying positive throughout your quarter-life crisis will really help and could even aid you in getting out the other side quicker. You can be your own worst enemy if you choose to be and you can beat yourself up about everything that's going "wrong" in your life. It can seem hard to stop the pity party and do something you really enjoy, but try to force yourself outside of your comfort zone. It's worth it. Ultimately, happiness is a choice and the choice is yours for the taking. So go grab it.
I am an advocate for meditating. I'm no expert, but I will still fly my flag high for this awesome activity. I didn't actually discover meditation properly until after my quarter-life crisis. My mom had told me all about it in my teens and early twenties, but I stubbornly refused to admit that she was right. I wish I had listened, though, because there are so many benefits to meditating that it's quite hard to list them all but I'll mention the ones which will help a twenty-something through a quarter-life crisis. According to the Huffington Post and meditation teacher Shrimati Bhanu Narasimhan, meditation can reduce stress, increase happiness, and increase acceptance, which trust me, you will definitely need help with in these areas. On a personal level, it helps me gather my hive of thoughts and feel relaxed which would have been great benefits for quarter-life crisis me to take advantage of.
7. Gather Your Strength
There may be some exciting yet important life changes waiting ahead of you post quarter-life crisis so you're going to need all of your strength. Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest, because there could be some huge hurdles in front of you that may ultimately lead you out of your quarter-life crisis and into the life that awaits you on the other side.
Do not lose hope. You will get through your quarter-life crisis because you are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Now go out and show the world what you're made of!