If a mid-life crisis involves the emotional questioning of identity and self-confidence in your '40s and beyond, there's a lesser-known phenomenon called the quarter-life crisis. The typical age for a quarter-life crisis is 25, but it can occur in your early '20s to your early '30s. For some, it happens only once; for others, it happens several times in their young adult life; while for a few, it doesn't happen at all.
Are you going through a rough patch right now? How can you tell if it's a quarter-life crisis? See if you can relate to these signs.
- The word adulting gives you anxiety.
- You can't help but compare yourself with your peers who have a stable job, fiancé or spouse, new car, and other items in your adulting goals list.
- It freaks you out whenever you see your friends announce engagements, weddings, and babies on social media. "Is that what I'm supposed to be doing?" you ask yourself.
- Even if you have a job, you honestly still don't know what to do in life. You've started questioning your life's purpose.
- You're at a crossroads in your career. "Should I stay in the safe, comfortable road, or pursue the risky, unpredictable one?"
- You feel like quitting your current job to pursue a completely different thing, but you're scared it won't work out.
- You're more terrified of failure now more than you ever did in the past.
- You're torn between pursuing independence and staying in the comfort of your parents' home.
- You can't help but compare yourself with your parents when they were your age. "Mom and dad had a house, stable business, and not to mention—me—when they were my age. I'm far from any of that!"
- It doesn't show on your Facebook and Instagram, but you feel lost, lonely, and/or confused a lot.
- You suddenly want to rush and do a zillion things you didn't get to do in the last few years—if only you can afford it.
- You realize you're miles away from the goals you gave yourself in college.
- You're torn between feeling old and young. You're no longer as naïve as you were in your teens, but you're not exactly the wise, all-knowing adult who gives sound advice.
- You keep telling yourself that 25 or 30 is the new 21.
- You're amazed at the teens you meet these days. You laugh at how small their problems are. You can't believe you used to act, talk, and dress like that.
- Speaking of dressing up, you wonder if you're too old to be shopping in Forever 21. You splurge on their latest sale anyway.
- You miss the good ol' days when you were cool and carefree in high school and college. You miss the time your metabolism was so fast that you could don a bikini even after weeks of eating junk food. In fact, you’ve been posting a lot of throwback photos lately.
- You realize that you really don't have much in common with your high school and college friends anymore. You've outgrown a lot of your former besties. You'd rather hang out with new people who truly get you.
- You feel the urge to just leave everything right now and escape. A road trip while drowning your sorrows in a killer Spotify soundtrack, perhaps?
If you ticked off a lot of things on this checklist, then you may have entered the quarter-life crisis zone. Don't fret; it happens to the best of us! Even successful icons like J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey went through their own quarter-life crises before making it big.
If you need to get away right now to clear your mind, then by all means, pack your bags for that solo trip you've been planning for years. While you can't always Eat Pray Love your way out of a crisis, it's a good start. If you need professional help, like getting a life coach, psychologist, or even a psychiatrist (if you've started experiencing symptoms of depression), there's no shame in doing so.
Remember: There's no fixed timeline that everyone should follow. Don't jump into marriage, having kids, a job you hate, and other turning points just because society expects you to. You don't have to compare yourself with other people your age because we all bloom and grow differently. We all go through our own journeys in life.