Over the past few years, there’s been a major shift in how we approach the subject of age. How old we are doesn’t necessarily coincide with how old we feel, and as society becomes more educated in healthy ways of living, what it means to be “older” doesn’t feel so ancient anymore. Still, numbers spook us, and we all know mid-life crises are bound to happen, but what is a quarter life crisis, and could your anxieties about growing up be more than just everyday nerves?
One minute, you're 5 years old and swatting your arms to grasp the last monkey bar, and the next, you’re 22 years old and shaking hands with a university president as they give you a degree, aka a first-class ticket plunging you into the real world. Some people are lucky enough to know exactly what they want from life and go after their dreams straight out of college, while others are left to wing it — which is why quarter-life crises are becoming more common.
Every generation experiences its fair share of struggles, and millennials are no exception to the rule. On the one hand, the world we live in is a progressive one, striving to be more inclusive and accepting of others. But on the other, the state of politics is in shambles, the job market feels almost impossible to break into, students are buried under mounds of loan debt, and the cost of living is, to put it bluntly, a sick joke. You better believe we're feeling the repercussions of it all.
According to new research, working millennials are particularly prone to experiencing a quarter-life crisis.
Experts from LinkedIn recently found that of 2,000 participants surveyed in their research, 72 percent of young professionals living in the UK have had, or are currently experiencing, a quarter-life crisis around age 26.
Business Insider reports that this is because millennials are striving for a “less conventional standard of life” than, say, their parents or grandparents, and things like property costs and career paths are heavily impacting their decisions, leading to feelings of heightened anxiety.
Life coach Erica B. McCurdy, MCC, tells Elite Daily that because the first five to 10 years out of college are flooded with huge milestones — such as landing that first job, changing jobs, and investing in homes and cars, — “it’s only natural that a sense of panic might set in.”
There are a lot of factors that can play a role in your quarter-life crisis.
Growing up, my mother always instilled in me the mindset that constantly asks the question, “Why not you?” Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with that mentality because, in case you haven’t noticed, millennials are incredibly ambitious. To put it bluntly: We want it all.
In terms of careers, our generation demands a better work-life balance than generations before us were given; we search for opportunities that are lucrative, allow us to thrive in our industry, and play a role in making the world a better place. Perhaps our expectations are too high in that sense, but it’s not our fault authority figures taught us to reach for the stars and then some.
Outside of our aspirations, social media plays a hand in our apprehensions, as well (surprise, surprise). According to Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and author of relationship blog You’re Just A Dumbass, millennials often experience something she refers to as “vanity validation,” in which they evaluate themselves based on their social feeds.
“Your lauded self on social media is constantly seeking more validation through electronic likes, not life experiences," Silva tells Elite Daily. "The quarter-life crisis emerges because you're comparing yourself to other people’s highlight reels.”
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Unfortunately, social media is no longer a digital hub to simply connect and keep up with friends and loved ones. Instagram photos and Facebook statuses have become glorified snapshots of a person’s accomplishments and materialistic gain. In order to avoid the fear of missing out and unnecessary comparisons, the best thing you can do for yourself is to log off more often and live your own life, your own way, to the absolute fullest.
You might not be able to avoid the quarter-life crisis, but there are plenty of ways to survive it.
If you can limit the time you spend scrolling through social media, I can guarantee the urge to compare yourself to others will dial down, but there are a ton of ways to make it through your quarter-life crisis unscathed and stronger than ever outside your cell phone usage.
Just like at the beginning of a mid-life crisis, a quarter-life crisis usually starts with panic. Initially, you’ll be freaking out over whether or not the decisions you’ve made are the right ones, and how to "correct" your "mistakes." But before spiraling into panic mode, take the Beatles initiative and get by with a little help from your friends.
Psychologist Nathan Gehlert told Lifehacker that when he struggled with something similar in his 20s, flushing out all the feels to his friends helped him put things into perspective, and that he wasn’t actually “falling behind.” Because, to be honest, we’re all a little lost in this life, friends.
Once you’ve vented and recognize what aspects of life are actually bothering you, Live Happy editor at large and licensed psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser suggests setting reasonable, short- and long-term goals.
“Reevaluate your circumstances,” she tells Elite Daily. “Are you in a dead-end job? A relationship that is not right for you? Perhaps you're not reaching your goals because you're not in the right circumstances. If you find something is not right, work toward making changes.”
Growing up is scary, but it's comforting to know that we don't have to suffer through the transition from childhood to adulthood alone. There's nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself or striving toward a larger goal. Just remember you're doing the best you can, one day at a time.