In theory, your twenties should be one of the best times of your life. You have the freedom to do anything you want without the restraints of paying a mortgage or raising children. Yes, in theory, your twenties should be a carefree time for exploration and self-discovery. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that your twenties can also be the absolute worst. As the graduating-from-university high fades, you are hit with the realization that without you knowing, the worst thing has happened; you’ve become an adult. No longer can you rely on mom and dad to voluntarily pay your bills because you’re “too busy studying” to get a job. The jig is up, you’ve graduated and now you have to adult.
Becoming an adult and the “boss” of our own life is something we cannot wait for as teenagers, but the actual process of adulting is much less empowering than one would think. Transitioning into adulthood is one of the most painful transitions in life, yet nobody really talks about it. We grow up thinking that it’s easy: you graduate from college, get a job, collect a paycheck and do WHATEVER you want with the money. In reality, about 90% of your paycheck will go towards paying bills and your newfound freedom from your parents will feel more like abandonment.
The millennial quarter-life crisis occurs between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine. It’s a time when nothing makes sense and all you want to do is crawl into your parents’ bed and cry. Read on to uncover the signs of a quarter-life crisis and quite possibly the revelation that you are in the midst of one yourself.
15 You’re Between 21 and 29
Your twenties are a gloriously, confusing and transitional time. It’s a decade full of potential, which can also make it full of anxiety. This means if you’re currently in your twenties it’s pretty safe to say you may be experiencing a quarter-life crisis. The endless decisions and responsibilities can overwhelm even the most stable twenty-something.
For some, it begins when college ends and it’s no longer possible to cling to the safety of student life. For others, it hits later in life, once every person known to mankind is engaged while you’re inevitably stuck at the single’s table. Regardless of when it occurs, the reality remains; being in your twenties is tough! While quarter-life crises generally take a back seat to the more common mid-life crises, they are no less significant. The struggle is real, but it’s important to acknowledge that life won’t always be this way. Eventually, you’ll turn 30, figure everything out and live happily ever after, at least we hope.
14 Frequenting The Self Help Section
Look no further than the Self-Help section at Barnes & Noble to find a fellow twenty-something in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. Starbucks in hand, women often head to the Self-Help section, determined to solve their life problems in a single day. If you’ve found yourself perusing the shelves of this section, hoping that a ‘How-To Adult’ book is going to jump into your arms, a quarter-life crisis may be to blame.
Admittedly, I’ve found myself in this section multiple times and spent more money than I’d like to admit on books aimed at ‘getting my life on track’. Most books end up collecting dust on a shelf, but ‘20 Something 20 Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman’s Guide To Balance and Direction’ by Christine Hassler was different. In the book, Christine tells of her personal struggles as a twenty-something searching for purpose and direction. It’s refreshing to read a book that was written by someone your own age, experiencing the same hardships as you. Luckily, this relatable book is sold at Barnes & Noble, so if you just so happen to find yourself in that aisle, you know where to look.
13 Hating Your Job
If you’d rather get a root canal than go to work today, chances are pretty good that you are having a quarter-life crisis. Of course, hating your job isn’t synonymous with a quarter-life crisis but it can be a factor. Complete dissatisfaction with your job can cause severe doubt in other aspects of your life. If you chose the wrong career path what’s to say you didn’t choose the wrong apartment or the wrong guy?
Waking up every day and going to a job that you hate breeds resentment in other areas of your life which can quickly build up into a full-blown quarter-life crisis. So if you’re counting down the days until your next dentist appointment with anticipation instead of dread, it could be time for a career change. The silver lining is that you have your entire life to figure out what you want to do. There are many fifty-year-olds that still don’t know what they want to do when they “grow up”.
12 Binge-Watching Netflix
Staying in bed all weekend watching Netflix isn’t exactly normal behavior. Sure, it’s a great way to unwind after a tough and annoying week at work, but it’s also a means of distraction. It’s pretty obvious antisocial behavior to stay in your apartment all weekend, speaking only to the delivery guy when he brings you pizza for the second night in a row. However, have you ever wondered why you have the desire to be antisocial? Binge-watching Netflix, or whatever it may be is a means to distract yourself from the responsibilities of real-life.
When you're five episodes deep into Orange Is The New Black the last thing on your mind is how much you hate your job, or your studio apartment. While you mindlessly watch fictional characters deal with their own issues, you’re free from dealing with your own, at least for the time being.
11 Too Much Crying
Contrary to what reality television would like us to believe, crying every day is not normal. If you’ve collapsed into a puddle of tears more times than you’d like to admit, it’s a pretty sure sign that you’re struggling. Feeling overemotional is a sign of being overwhelmed and unable to process the things going on in your life.
Your twenties are a time of change. Living on your own, paying your own bills and being responsible for your own life are all things that are relatively new concepts for a twenty-something. It’s no wonder that your pillow is absorbing more tears than normal as you try to navigate your way through adulthood without the safety and guidance of your parents. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a difference between feeling overwhelmed and clinical depression. If you feel like you’re crying more than your smiling lately it’s best to talk to a psychologist to make sure you’re not suffering from a more serious problem.
10 Inconsistent Intentions
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we’ve been asked all of our lives. Some people have the same answer from the time they’re ten until they’re fifty, while others change their answer weekly. If your career aspirations have flip-flopped from doctor to lawyer, to farmer in the past few months, it’s a pretty clear indication that you’re feeling confused. It can be completely overwhelming to decide on a career path when there are seemingly endless possibilities out there.
How are you supposed to know what you want to be doing five, ten, fifteen years from now? The pressure to choose the right path can be overwhelming, which is why some students change their major so frequently. It’s easier to feign changes of interest rather than admit that you have no idea what you want to do.
9 Facebook Makes You Cringe
If scrolling through Facebook lately makes you cringe, welcome to the club! While the first of your friends to get engaged won’t cause you to bat an eye, the tenth will undoubtedly cause them to roll back in your head. Panic can start to set in as we get older and see others lives progressing while ours stays the same. The root of almost all quarter-life crises is the feeling that you are being left behind or that your life isn’t progressing the way it should be.
Although your instinct may be to Facebook stalk everyone from college to find out if you are in fact the last single lady left in your sorority, you must refrain. It’s unhealthy to constantly compare ourselves to others and social media is where envy flourishes. So what if you thought you’d have a better apartment, better job or a husband by now? Life has a way of working out, so log off Facebook and go live it!
8 Staying At Your “Temporary” Job
If you’re turning 25 and still at your summer-after-college job at Applebees, chances are you’re going through a quarter-life crisis. It’s completely normal to get a temporary job after college that doesn’t necessarily take advantage of your bachelor’s degree, or have anything to do with it at all. Staying at that job for over a year, on the other hand, is not normal.
While it’s easy to become comfortable with the job that you’re in, remaining there can be detrimental to both your sanity and career. Sitting in a cubicle all day, twiddling your thumbs instead of challenging yourself to be your best is a recipe for disaster. Although stepping outside of your comfort zone can be intimidating, finding a job that fulfills or challenges you can boost your self-confidence and overall satisfaction in life. So, take a risk and apply for that job that scares you, it could be just the thing you need to overcome this crisis.
7 Looking For Guidance
Remember when you were a teenager and you wanted nothing more than for your parents to stop telling you what to do? Do you also remember that you called your mom yesterday to ask her how to wash your wool sweater? It’s pretty ironic that one of the worst things about being a teenager becomes one of the things we crave as adults, guidance.
As we flail through our first years as adults all we really want in life is for our parents to give us the answers. Which apartment should we rent? What job should we take? Is it okay to eat week old chicken? All these questions need answers and when you’re a teenager you just yell for your mom. Although becoming an adult doesn’t prohibit us from calling our parents they are generally less willing to give us the answers. As we grow up and leave the nest our parents adopt the “you’re a grown up, figure it out” mentality. While they’re thinking they’re helping us become self-sufficient, without them we almost always choose the wrong option first. You live and you learn, right?
6 Drinking Too Much
Just because we’ve graduated from college, doesn’t mean we’ve stopped binge drinking. Rather, we’ve just given up going to clubs and opted to drink $5 bottles of wine on the couch, by ourselves. The occasional night where you “accidentally” drink an entire bottle of wine is nothing to worry about. However, if you crave a glass or three at the end of each day, you might be covering up a quarter-life crisis.
It’s human nature that we drink to forget. In university, we drink to forget that we failed our midterm or that we have three papers due in the next week. Post-college we drink to forget that we’re still single, not progressing at work and barely making enough money to get by. Adulting is a tough adjustment, but reaching for that bottle of wine isn’t going to solve your problems. Waking up with a wine hangover is going to make tomorrow even worse. Try to avoid drinking alone and save the wine for ladies night’s and weekends. And before you ask drinking with your cat doesn’t mean you aren’t drinking alone.
5 Feeling Unmotivated
Do you ever just sit and stare into space? Or, lay on the couch knowing that you should get to the gym or update your resume, but instead you hit ‘next episode’? Feeling unmotivated is another sign of experiencing a quarter-life crisis. While, our parents may attribute our lack of motivation to sheer laziness, this is often not the case.
Feeling unmotivated is a side effect of feeling overwhelmed. We often feel that we have so much to do and accomplish that we choose to do nothing instead. This seems counterproductive and obviously, it is, but the truth is we often refuse to act for fear of failure or rejection. What if you update your resume, send it to that publishing house you’ve been dreaming of working at and they never call you back? Fear can be paralyzing, but so is inaction. Life is full of failures and successes; unfortunately, you can’t succeed without risking failure first.
4 Searching For Meaning
Have you ever sat on the train looking at all the dreary commuters and thought to yourself “there has got to be more to life”? Those in the midst of a quarter-life crisis are constantly searching for meaning. As millennials, we can’t simply accept that the way life is currently lived is the way life should be lived. Do we all really want to spend the majority of our lives behind desks? Surely, there has to be a better way to make a living, while still living.
Our parents grew up as a generation of worker bees, going to work every day and providing for their families. Our generation is different. We can’t blindly accept things without reason. We can’t accept going to work every day at a job that doesn’t fulfill us in some way. Instead of settling for the jobs our parents were happy to fill, we endlessly search for meaning and a new way of living. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does provide challenges when choosing a career path, which can lead to other struggles in our lives as well.
3 Wishing You Had Your Pet’s Life
You’re lying if you’ve never looked at your dog blissfully lounging on the floor and thought “I wish I had his life”. A pet’s life is the epitome of carefree living, which is why we envy their simple existence during the time when ours is as complicated as ever. While we’re in the midst of setting the groundwork for the rest of our lives (no pressure), our dogs only concern is whether or not he’ll get to go to the park today.
Of course, we don’t actually want a life as simple as our dogs, well most of us anyway. But, we do crave the simplicity as our lives spiral out of control. There are countless questions to answer and decisions to be made in our twenties that make us want to revolt and join our furry friends on the floor for the day. The only way to cure this envy is to live a day in their life. Hopefully, by the end of the day, you’ll feel bored out of your mind, rather than relaxed and carefree.
2 Becoming Antisocial
Can you remember the last time you went out and did something social? If it hasn’t been in the last few weeks you may have a problem. Becoming a hermit and avoiding social interaction is a telltale sign of a quarter-life crisis. It’s not that you’ve stopped enjoying the company of your friends, but rather you’ve stopped enjoying the company of yourself. Since you aren’t where you want to be in life, whether in your professional or personal life, socializing can be a pain.
When meeting new people you’ll inevitably be asked what you do for a living, which can lead to embarrassment if you’re not where you want to be. Since you know these questions will be asked and you don’t want to deal with the answers you decide to stay home. Quickly, you become more comfortable alone in your apartment then you do out with other people, which is where the anti-social behavior begins. It’s important to remember that most twenty-somethings aren’t where they thought they would be by now. Go out and share in your frustration rather than stewing in it alone.
1 You Literally “Can’t Even” Right Now
Going to your job, paying your bills, doing laundry, cleaning the house - the responsibilities of an adult are endless. If you literally can’t even right now, you’re probably going through a quarter-life crisis. Actively resisting the responsibilities of adulthood or at the very least resenting their existence is perhaps the most common sign of a crisis. While society and our parents urge us to grow up and deal with it, sometimes we just can’t even.
Adulting is a huge adjustment and one that many of us are unequipped to deal with. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s not our fault. Let’s blame our parents, the generation of providers. While well intentioned, their desire to provide us with a carefree childhood unintentionally created a generation of dependent children. Since we are used to being taken care of in every sense of the word, becoming responsible for ourselves is challenging, if not impossible. Whether it’s our parent's fault or our own, we find ourselves in a crisis and the only thing that will save us is self-reflection, determination and unfortunately, time.