What Is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

What Is a Quarter-Life Crisis

A quarter-life crisis is a period of uncertainty, stress and deep soul-searching that many young people experience as they embark on a new chapter in life. Transitions can be overwhelming. It’s not uncommon for those in their 20s or 30s to encounter a quarter-life crisis. Thankfully, there are ways to handle the intense emotions that surround this time of uncertainty.

Quarter-Life Crisis Psychology 

The typical person who struggles with a quarter-life crisis is highly driven and smart. Yet, times of transition can lead to a prolonged state of limbo, resulting in uncertainty, emotional pain and questioning. Regardless of what’s caused your quarter-life crisis, this experience typically includes four stages:

  1. Feeling trapped: Whether it’s a job, a lease or a relationship, you may feel trapped or uncertain about your choices.
  2. Separation: Many of those in a quarter-life crisis leave their jobs, social groups or romantic partners and go through a period of separation and loneliness.
  3. Reflection: The next stage is a time of reflection, recalibration and soul-searching as they attempt to discover what they really want.
  4. Understanding: Toward the end of the crisis, most people emerge with a better understanding, greater motivation and a more positive outlook for their future.

While the process can be painful, a quarter-life crisis can be a tremendous opportunity for growth and personal revelation.

Quarter-Life Crisis vs. Midlife Crisis

Although the midlife crisis is more recognized, it’s not more common. Young people are just as likely to experience a life crisis as their middle-aged counterparts. While the underlying emotions are similar, the major difference lies in how others perceive those struggling through the crisis. A midlife crisis is more widely accepted, while a quarter-life crisis is often brushed off or belittled. 

As a culture, society expects young people to be happy and carefree. Most people view these years as fun and relatively easy, which can undermine the person experiencing a quarter-life crisis. However, a quarter-life crisis is real and should not be ignored.

Quarter-Life Crisis Symptoms

A quarter-life crisis is far more normal than most people realize. Here are just a few signs that you may be going through this experience:

  • You lack direction in your career, relationships or overall life purpose.
  • You have difficulties making decisions.
  • You are struggling to figure out what’s missing.
  • You lack motivation.
  • You struggle with fatigue, stress, anxiety or depression.
  • You sense the tension between pursuing your dreams and settling down.
  • You worry that your peers have everything figured out.
  • You fear getting left behind.

Powering Through a Quarter-Life Crisis

If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, you’re not alone. While there is no easy solution, here are some ways to ease the pain of your quarter-life crisis:

  • Gain strength through solidarity by talking to friends about your experiences.
  • Remind yourself that your feelings are normal.
  • Channel your frustrations into something else, such as learning a new skill, pursuing a hobby or working a side hustle.
  • Don’t be defined by your degree. Feel free to pursue something else.

Get Help for Addiction if You Need It

A quarter-life crisis is an emotional roller coaster. While some face the challenge in healthy ways, others ignore it or cope using dangerous behaviors like binge drinking or taking drugs. 

If you’re struggling with addiction, 7 Summit Pathways is here to help. We offer a personalized treatment approach that addresses addiction and the underlying issues behind your drug or alcohol misuse. Contact us today to learn more about our holistic treatments that work.

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