When you turn 25, that big round number can echo in your head for months. And with it can come serious doubts and questions, leading some people to have a quarter-life crisis. This is a totally normal (but dreaded) feeling of doubt and stress brought on by, well, growing up. To explain it further, Dictionary.com defined a quarter-life crisis as "a crisis that may be experienced in one's twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one's life." This is similar to a midlife crisis, which is defined as "a period of psychological stress occurring in middle age, thought to be triggered by a physical, occupational, or domestic event, as menopause, diminution of physical prowess, job loss, or departure of children from the home."
In pop culture, a midlife crisis often sends people packing from a job they don't like, or causes them to go marching to the nearest car dealership in search of a yellow convertible. For people in their forties to fifties, a midlife crisis is a time to pause and reflect on the course of their life, and make changes as necessary.
But for people in their early twenties, a quarter-life crisis brings on the fear of starting life. You're in a transition from being a kid, to being an adult — the whole "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman" thing made so popular by Britney. I can tell you turning 20 is scary, and so is turning 25. Within a few short years you realize you're no longer a kid, and that you should probably start figuring out your life. But I'm also here to tell you there is no rush, and no use actually going into full crisis mode.
If you find yourself panicking a bit at the the prospect of growing up, then here are some tips to help guide you through.
1. Quit Feeling So Rushed
A quarter-life crisis mostly happens because you get that "Oh God, what am I doing with my life?" feeling. Whether you go to college or not, your late teens and early twenties are supposed to be the time when you figure it out all out. But that is quite the tall order, especially since so much is going down during these formative years. A lucky few are able to figure out exactly what they want out of life, but the rest of us need more time to grow up. And that's OK.
2. Take Time To Reflect
If you're having a quarter-life crisis, now is the perfect time to go on a journey to find yourself. Take a gap year, or a summer off, and travel. After all, you are young and unattached, so when better than now to go on a life-changing trip? But if you can't afford to travel, I still recommend taking time to reflect. As someone who has spent a lot of time working in bookstores and coffee shops, I can really preach the benefits of these types of jobs. They allow you to make money while taking time to think about your life. It's a win-win situation.
3. Make A Bunch Of Mistakes (And Learn From Them)
Maybe you turned down a job, moved to a bad city, or found yourself in the wrong career, and now you're feeling like a total failure. Don't beat yourself up! It means you gave something a try, and that's great. Plus, the point isn't about avoiding mistakes — because you'll inevitably make tons — but about learning from them.
4. Experiment As Much As You Can
Entering into your mid-twenties is great, but it's not some sort of magic elixir that allows you to miraculously figure out your life. The only way to figure out your life is by trying new things. Navigate your way through different friend groups, jobs, and cities, and see where it takes you. Experimenting will help you figure out what kind of a person you want to be, and soon you'll settle on what feels like your best fit.
5. Reevaluate Your Goals
Sometimes when you're freaking out about your life, it's because you're trying to pursue goals that aren't right for you. Did you tell yourself all through college that you'd be a writer, and now you realize you actually hate it? It's OK to sit down and reevaluate. Once you do, you'll be able to forge ahead in the right direction.
6. Get Rid Of Any Obstacles
Maybe you're all stagnated and confused and stressed about life because something is holding you back. Try to figure out what that is, and work through it. According to an article on the topic from TheDailyMind.com, "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."
7. Stop Saying "Ugh, I'm So Old"
As someone who is no longer 22, whenever I hear a person fresh out of college groaning about being old, I want to shake them. Twenty two is not old, and neither is 25, or 30. In fact, get the word "old" out of your mind, because feeling like you're "too old" for something is only going to hold you back. There is no time stamp on anything, so don't impose one on yourself.
8. Resist The Urge To Compare Yourself
Life happens at different paces for different people. You may have a friend who graduated colege, got married, and created an awesome career for herself by 25. It can be tough, but try not to compare yourself. As Paul Angone notes on RelevantMagazine.com, "Obsessively comparing yourself to others, becoming more and more frustrated that your life doesn’t look like theirs, is the absolute most effective way to take your crisis to unhealthy ... levels." Instead, feel happy for your friend and her accomplishments, and then turn back to focusing on your own life.
It's shocking to find yourself facing adulthood, but don't let a quarter-life crisis get you down. Take some time to reflect and figure out what you want out of life, and you'll get through it just fine.
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