By Whitney Christy
Ever experienced a time growing up when you wanted to be taken seriously, but in the eyes of everyone else you were still a child? Transitioning from one stage in life to another is not always as simple as one may hope. Years ago, you thought you would have your life all figured out by now – and that hasn’t exactly happened yet.
Remember when life was simple? Now you might feel stuck between your childhood and your adulthood, and you long for a time when your hardest decision was what to wear to prom. (At least, that’s the way your brain is filtering your teen years now, thanks to those ever-rosy nostalgia glasses.)
Young adults are struggling to cope with anxieties about jobs, unemployment, debt, and relationships. In short: the quarter life crisis. They find themselves in a job they tolerate, in a city they wouldn’t mind leaving, and a life that just doesn’t quite seem to be working out the way they had figured it would. Quarter life crisis is a period of life typically ranging from the late teens to the early thirties. Those that suffer from this may begin to feel doubtful about their own lives, which is brought on by the stress of becoming an adult.
You’re scared that if you pick something, it won’t bring you that fulfillment you’re looking for — and then you’ll be right back where you started. Being “twenty-something” now is scary – fighting millions of other graduates for your first job, struggling to raise a mortgage deposit, and finding time to juggle all your relationships. Sometimes even the slightest realization of failing at one thing means you’ll continue failing and ruin your life in some irreversible way.
This might be the biggest sign of all that you’re starting to contemplate your quarter-life milestone: You can’t stop thinking about how this isn’t exactly where you pictured you’d be at 23, 25, or 30. Maybe you don’t have a significant other. Maybe you’re not exactly in your dream job. Sure, you were never a “white-picket fence” person, but you thought you’d at least have SOME of your act together by now. Instead, you have pizzahut.com bookmarked on your browser and a halfhearted OkCupid habit. Look at your parents. They had kids (you) already! They had a house!
Paul Angone, author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties, defines this as “our compulsion to constantly compare ourselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us into depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around discontent.” In other words, we waste far too much time clicking through select Facebook albums, telling ourselves that everyone “has it better,” instead of celebrating our own accomplishments and trying to figure out where we are going next and how we plan to get there.
It’s more of a transition than a full blown crisis. You should probably be more concerned if you’re not having an inner debate filled with “I have no idea what I’m doing” or “What now?” Let go of your expectations of what adulthood should be. It doesn’t matter if your parents married at 22 or if your friend is running a successful start-up; putting too much stress on preconceived ideas of what your life should be like right now is a surefire way to tank all of your optimism and hopes. Life is too short to daydream it away wishing you had someone else’s. Stop comparing the beginning of your journey to someone who is in the middle of theirs. Comparing will make you second guess all of your decisions.
Think about what you really love doing, what gives you the chance to hold responsibility and achieve meaningful goals. What gets you up in the morning? Consider things you are willing to do for the rest of your life for free. That is how you pin point your purpose. There are plenty of success stories that prove age is not a road map to your success. Stan Lee, creator of The Fantastic Four, did so after his 39th birthday and Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before taking her chances into the fashion industry at age 40.
Try to embark on your own personal journey of self discovery and definitely take risks. There is no better time than now to give your all into yourself. This may prove to be a more productive way to measure your life, and solidify a more satisfying and purposeful future. Focus on your path, your dreams, and your goals.