Society Expects A Quarter-Life Crisis To Define My 20s, But I'm Not Having It

by Howard Rudnick
Warner Bros. Pictures

We've all heard about the "quarter-life crisis."

It's when 20-somethings reach the middle of their 20s and have an overwhelming sense of "What is my life?" Then, a period of self-reflection and self-evaluation ensues.

I'm no stranger to those feelings.

I recently turned 25 and everyone asked me how it felt knowing I was turning 25, and commenting on how old I had become. Basically the typical questions one asks someone when they reach a milestone age.

The most common response I gave always revolved around feelings of uncertainty, but also around a sense of status-quo. I may now be halfway through my 20s, but it hasn't been as defining or life altering as it's made out to be.

Since I've turned 25, I've gotten engaged, worked on my relationships, my finances, my career, my education and my inner being.

The "quarter-life crisis," in my opinion, is a label that's been given to 20-somethings who don't have their life together at all.

I can totally see that aspect of my peers who haven't quite figured out dating and relationships, who are still searching for careers, who are still trying to manage what they want to be and how they want to present themselves.

The problem at the core of the "quarter-life crisis" label is that it's an identity 25-year-olds are expected to take on. It's a label that's been placed upon this age group by society because we're not old enough to know what we want, who we want to be with or how to handle our own personal dilemmas.

But when I think about my peers, I don't see many of them having that "quarter-life crisis" that's so heavily talked about all the time. What I see are my friends making informed, (more often than not) wise decisions for themselves they can be proud of.

They're not making life-changing decisions that are so far out of left field because they're in panic mode, or because nothing is working out for them.

The other problem with the "quarter-life crisis" is that it's been eclipsed by society's latest label, "Millennial." The descriptiveness of who and what Millennials are continues to be altered as society sees fit. We're supposed to be a generation of entitled, lazy, unmotivated individuals, who are all struggling to make it in this thing called the "real world."


As my peers continue to navigate through their 20s, advancing in their careers, various stages of their relationships and financially, I see a generation of individuals breaking the mold set upon them by societal expectations.

For every lazy, spoiled, entitled Millennial I've met, I've also met three who defy the stereotype.

The biggest change in the "quarter-life crisis" is that our belief system as a whole continues to shift and my peer group, those in their now mid-to-late 20s are coming to grips with understanding there's room for improvement, but that it can only be done if they do it themselves.

You can lead the horse to water but you can't make it drink.

This statement has never rang more true. Instead of wallowing in the pity of turning 25 or not being happy with where you are at this milestone, it's up to you to go out and change it.

My generation has continued to push the boundaries and experiment with other avenues of reaching their goals. They're not afraid of failure, they're not afraid of settling and they're certainly not afraid to deviate from their families expectations of them.

The most fascinating part of the "quarter-life crisis" is that it's become a renaissance period of sorts for the individuals who are reaching the age of 25. Yes, many individuals may have had to check their ego at the door and re-evaluate their priorities in life in order to get back on the right track, but that's become more and more acceptable.

As our country sits on the precipice of a history-making election, this generation is no longer afraid to let societal pressures overcome their willingness to succeed.

Next time you think about asking someone about their "quarter-life crisis" ask them about their plans for the future, even if they're just short-term. Focus on the positives and on what they want to accomplish, not on their shortcomings or failures.

Let's make America great again by making our peers feel valued, not worthless.