How To Survive A Quarter-Life Crisis

Being in your twenties is all fun and games... until it's not.

Growing up, I heard a lot about the mid-life crisis. I knew that there might come a point halfway through my life where I would start to question things, and my whole world would be turned upside down. No big deal, I still had a few decades before I had to worry about that right?

Wrong. I must have missed the memo that somewhere in my twenties I would encounter something similar: the quarter-life crisis.

Put simply, the quarter-life crisis is the crippling anxiety felt by people in their 20s and 30s about where their lives are going from here. This is usually when people settle into their adult lives and realize that they might not be as happy as they thought they were going to be. Or maybe they've realized they have changed and want something different, but don't know how to start over.

If you currently find yourself in this predicament, here are a few tips to get you through the worst of it!

1. Develop a strong support system

support system
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It might feel like it, but you're not alone. If you ask your friends, you would be shocked to discover that most people in your age group are going through the same thing. Everyone is trying to figure out what their purpose is and what they want to do with their lives, just like you. Although no two stories are the same, having people to talk to who understands your frustrations is essential.

People who are much older or younger than you might be a bit out of touch with your experience, but they might still want to support you in any way they can. This can come through advice, words of encouragement, a listening ear, and more. Having both kinds of people in your immediate circle is ideal for receiving the support you need.

2. Use your network

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I've said it before and I'll say it again: Nowadays connections get you further than qualifications ever will. Go through your list of professional contacts and make a point of reaching out to them for potential opportunities in your field(s). It may seem weird at first putting yourself out there in such a way, but an important part about growing up is learning to ask for help. 

The more people that know your name and your professional goals, the more people are in a position to help you advance your career. Ask others about their experiences in your industry, and where you should start. Look at the people you know who are already in a position you would like to be in and pick their brains. Ask them what they wish they knew when they were in your position. Ask them what they did to get where they are, and if they have any guidance to offer you.

It can make a world of difference!

3. Research to discover new hobbies

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Maybe you aren't sure what you want to do at all. Or maybe you've recently changed your mind and are feeling lost. Have no fear, there is a world of possibilities for you out there! 

Spend some time researching to discover new hobbies and interests. Look into different career paths. Listen to other people's stories. Read books, watch YouTube videos, attend motivational talks or speeches — do whatever you have to do to expose yourself to new ideas and perspectives. Eventually, you might discover something that will set you on your path. 

4. Try new things and find what you are good at

trying new things
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Chances are, you are feeling overwhelmed because what used to work for you isn't working anymore. Maybe you don't find joy in the same things you used to. That's perfectly okay! We tend to cling to what's familiar to us, but we also have to give ourselves room to grow. Someone once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you want to get out of the funk, you have to come at it from a different angle.

Use the information you gained from your research to try out new activities. It might be daunting at first, especially if you're like me and get frustrated when you're not good at something right away. However, practice makes perfect and you have to start somewhere. If it doesn't work out for you, then move on to something else. Don't stop exploring options until you find that thing that lights your fire.

5. Map out a gameplan

planning things out
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Once you've got an idea about a potential direction you can go with your life, sit down and map it all out. Look at your big picture goals, and then break them down into smaller, digestible projects that you can work on overtime. Set goals and deadlines for yourself, but remember to be reasonable. Don't rush into doing too much too soon!

For example, your big picture goal might be to become a lawyer. Smaller goals can be researching law schools, reading up on advice from current lawyers, making a timeline, or estimating costs. These things don't all have to be done in one day, rather you can set deadlines based on your bandwidth. You can aim to research schools by the end of the week, but give yourself until the end of the month to create the timeline.

The big picture might seem impossible, but once you break it down into more realistic steps it doesn't seem as scary to take that first leap. 

6. Take things one step at a time

one step at a time
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That being said, once you break it down, you have to focus on the individual pieces. It can be overwhelming to focus on the big picture all the time. You may get discouraged about the number of things you still have to do, or the time it will take to do it. This is what stops many people from moving forward with the plan!

We tend to want to find the quickest solution, and sometimes abandon the better solution because we think we don't have enough time to make it happen. I say, as long as you're breathing, you have enough time. You can't do everything all at once, and things don't just happen overnight. If you focus on your small goals — the parts of the plan that you can do something about — you will work your way up to the bigger things before you know it.

7. Give yourself time

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Everyone is on a different timeline. Don't rush your process. There is no pre-determined age you're supposed to have it together. As a matter of fact, "having it together" doesn't exist. Everyone you know is out here doing the same thing as you: trying to figure it all out. You still have so much to do and so much to learn. 

I know you probably feel like you should be at a certain point in your life right now, but you're doing yourself a disservice by thinking you've done something wrong in comparison to others. Things will happen for you when they are supposed to, whether that be in 2 months or 2 years. Focus on what you can do in the near future to affect the distant future.

8. Celebrate all accomplishments

celebrating success
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When you accomplish one of the goals you have planned out, acknowledge it! Reward yourself for your perseverance.

You may feel like you don't have any recent accomplishments, and that is why you feel like you have failed. However, there is nothing too small to be celebrated. Even if it's something basic like getting out of bed in the morning when you didn't want to, every action you take is moving you toward your future. Your day is full of small accomplishments, you just have to look for them!

9. Remember that everything will work out the way it's intended to

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One day, you're going to look up and things will have settled. It might not look exactly the way you imagined, but it will be something. It will be a destination that you reached by taking action and making the right decisions for yourself.

You're going to make mistakes. Life is going to throw you curveballs and push you off your course. Don't fight it too much. You must adapt and keep it pushing. If you power through, the story that is meant for you is waiting on the other side.

I don't want to call it a happy ending; I can't promise that. However, it will be something definite, which is what you long for right now. You want to know where you will be and what you'll be doing. If you power through, you will eventually be older doing something somewhere. Just do the best you can every day, and remember that larger forces are working to get you to where you need to be. You just have to trust the process.

Writer, blogger, and content creator from Sunny San Diego. When she isn’t writing, you can find her exploring, eating, and watching Netflix.

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