You have finished your college degree, you already found some work that pays you well, you found someplace to live alone. Now what? Should you move forward to pursue a master’s degree? Or accept the offer from a competitor and leave your comfort zone? What if you leave all that behind and pursue your real passion? Or should you get your relationship to the next step and settled down?

As you ask yourself, what should you do next? It probably got you thinking: If life would be that easy. As if life came with manual instructions. As if life were a series of to-do lists that you had to do to feel whole. 

There are a lot of questions that might be wandering on your mind. That’s great, it means you care about your future. Some choose not to worry and live their life day by day. Or, as they say, “go with the flow.”

It’s okay not to have the answer to those questions that pops into your mind. If you ask other people, maybe they haven’t got the answer yet, and they are already in their 40s or 50s. Who knows? 

However, having to think about it, it’s okay if it doesn’t change your quality of life, or making you less productive. But if the worry doesn’t go away after a few weeks, and you find yourself asking yourself questions like should I be better at this age? Is this who I really am? What is the purpose of life? Or to be exact, what is the goal of yours, and what to do about it in the future, you might be experienced what the society calls: a quarter-life crisis.

Worry not my friend, you are not alone, 86% of millennials said that they experienced this quarter-life crisis. They felt insecure, disappointed, lonely, and sometimes it could lead to depression.

It’s not something to fear about. If you think of it in the right way, it can be a new start for your life. It can be a way to find out who you really are and what you really want, or in other words, self-actualization. It can take your life to the next level. 

What is A Quarter Life Crisis

It’s an emotional crisis that includes emotions like sadness, isolation, a feeling that you are not enough, self-doubt, worry, unmotivated, confused, afraid of failure. 

A period of intense soul-searching and stress occurring in your mid-20s to early 30s, as The Muse said.

It doesn’t mean QLC happens in a quarter of your life, but it occurs in a quarter of your adulthood.

Why A Quarter Life Crisis Happens

The trigger is usually a financial, relational, career, or value that you believe in. Sometimes when you become confused about what is the purpose of your life, you felt a particular emotion overflows you. 

25 years old is supposed to be the time of opportunity before mortgages and marriage have taken their toll on you. However, anxieties about jobs, unemployment, debt, and relationships can lead to QLC.

Here are several signs when someone experiences a QLC:

  • Start to question life
  • Feeling stuck
  • Less motivated
  • Confused to go out from the comfort zone
  • Unhappy with achievement
  • Feeling restless
  • Pressured

There are four phases of QLC:

  1. Stuck in a situation, whether its work, relationship. You can leave, but you might feel you can’t.
  2. Feeling that there might be a change. This will allow you to explore new chances and possibilities to your most authentic interest, preferences, or sense of self.
  3. Building a new life
  4. Commit to new interests, aspirations, or values that you believe in.

As Dr. Oliver Robinson (University of Greenwich) said, it can be a positive experience. “The results will help reassure those who are experiencing this transition that it is a commonly experienced part of early adult life and that a proven pattern of positive change results from it,” 

How To Solve Your Quarter Life Crisis

Find and get to know yourself

Ask yourself who you really are. 

  • What’s your purpose? 
  • What’s your cause? 
  • What’s your belief? 
  • What are your values?

As Mark Manson said, you are what you value, this means you cannot talk about self-improvement without also talking about values.  

When you need to find yourself, this means you see your values. Your identity, the aggregation of something you value. So, find out what you value, what matters to you. And why you appreciate it. An excellent value is evidence-based (it must be considered and reasoned), constructive (value things that enhance ourselves and others.), and controllable (don’t value things that are outside your control).

Some examples of ethical, healthy values: honesty, building something new, stand up for others

Wrong values: dominating others through manipulation or violence, not being alone, being rich, being the center of attention.

Be open to possibilities

Try new things. See how you feel after that. It can be writing, jogging, volunteering, a new job, or maybe a little side business. You might be surprised at how random things can make you happy.

And don’t let your degree limit you to do things you want. Just because you major in finance, doesn’t mean you can’t be a graphic designer. You can be anything you want. Learn new things. 

Opening your mind to the possibility of a different path is the first (and hardest) part.

Plan B? You can always go back to the skill you have.

Don’t repressed all your feelings.

Talk to your friend, share your thoughts. Or better find a mentor to guide you or someone who you can be completely honest with.

Stop comparing yourself

Maybe you see your other colleagues are more successful than you, perhaps they get paid more than you, or maybe your boss likes them better. Or maybe your new friend seems happier than you because she has a husband who loves her and they go traveling at least three times a year. 

Does it mean you are less successful?

Does it mean you are less happy?

Don’t let other people define who you are.

Make a life plan

Force yourself to think, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Or in 10 years?

Break down a list of things you must do to achieve that goal

Do something

Rather than sitting down worrying all day long, do something. Focus on wellness and decision making. You can do some research on your interest and have a glimpse of things you have to do.

Remember, look at the bright side! When you are in your 20s and 30s, you are in good health, you don’t have as many responsibilities, and you still able to explore the many opportunities and chances that are thrown at you.

However, if you are still struggling, it’s okay to seek help. You can always consult with a family, friend, or better, a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Written by: Aileen Velishya
Edited by: Elga Theresia