As an adult, you’re suddenly expected to know what to do with anything life throws at you. This is overwhelming, especially in your mid-twenties. You have all these hopes & aspirations, but you still feel like you don’t know yourself yet.
The future can feel like a sinister cloud over your head: too many unanswered questions and lingering doubts as to whether you can actually hack it.
Do you face such an existential crisis? Well, you’re not alone. Welcome to your quarter-life crisis. It’s a time when people between 24 and 33 start questioning their careers, relationships, and place in life.
Your feelings are perfectly natural. So, it’s best not to ignore them as they can steer you into the future. Today, we’ll learn more about the subjectivity of a quarter-life crisis and how you can move through this existential turmoil in a positive manner.
A Quarter Life Crisis in a Nutshell
This is a period in life that is marked by uncertainty and questions on a wide range of issues. It usually occurs during your mid-20s and early 30s. Young people may feel burdened, confused, and uninspired with their career or life journey.
German psychologist Erik Erikson chalks it up to an intimacy vs. isolation crisis. To simplify it, it’s a time when you live under the structure and protection of family and school before you’re suddenly cast into the real world where society demands many things of you.
Here are some of the factors that can lead to a quarter-life crisis:
Spending too much time job searching and interviewing for positions
Too much career planning
Finally getting into a serious relationship
The weight of your long-term personal and professional goals
The most basic human instinct: Fear
Trying to figure out what’s missing in your life
Peer pressure from looking at your mate that has everything "figured out."
Starting a new job, getting married, or having children
A quarter-life crisis surfaces when you face such issues, but they don't all happen simultaneously.
It comes in the following phases.
Stages of a Quarter-Life Crisis
Adulthood comes with personal and professional commitments. You were used to other people doing certain things. But, now you're expected to pay rent, show up to the office, and other obligations. It’s also the same on the relationship front, where romance and excitement are replaced with commitment and duty.
Obligations and commitments are scary, especially if you’re new to them. The only way is to gain experience, as there’s no rulebook on such things.
At this point, you start feeling loneliness and separation anxiety whenever you’re away from friends, work, or your partner. It’s also common to feel alone after moving to a new place for work.
Then, you start seeking more alone time to help you contemplate all these issues. Self-reflection can be brutal. But, it’s the best way to find clarity and change your life trajectory. You can even change your social circle, learn new skills, and walk out of the crisis with new career opportunities. This can be a trying time for you. However, you should be having fun. These are your most exciting years after all! Ignoring such feelings can be detrimental to your future. Please don’t brush them off. Instead, it is better to acknowledge that a quarter-life crisis is a struggle for many young people worldwide. With that in perspective, let’s focus on some positive ways to approach it.
Signs of a Quarter-Life Crisis
The stressors mentioned are pretty common among office workers. However, not everyone goes through this crisis –Some of us have things figured out.
Here are some signs that point toward the issues:
A General Feeling of Aimlessness
Entry-level adulthood comes with loads of newfound freedom. Now, nobody tells you where to go, what to do, or how to spend your time. This period can be as exciting as it is confusing as there are many unknowns in the world. Figuring things out can be overwhelming for some.
We all peak at different stages in life. For instance, your class clown in high school may be a C.E.O in his early twenties. Or, the girl you played dolls with is now married with kids on the way. It’s natural to feel jealous when you feel stuck, but your peers are making inroads in life.
Today, we have F.O.M.O (fear of missing out), thanks to social media. You can’t escape the constant stream of baby showers, company events, ceremonies, and parties on your phone. The best way to cope with such turmoil is to realize there are no strict deadlines to life’s milestones.
Lack of Motivation
It’s common to want to put off making big decisions, affirming long-term romantic commitments, and losing faith in yourself when in a quarter-life crisis. After all, the world says you are still young, so why rush?
Such indecision often leaves you feeling stuck in quicksand. On the one hand, you crave the freedom of a child. On the other, you want people, especially at work, to view you as deserving of adult responsibility –It’s a very confusing time!
Most of us were broke and clueless during our high school and college days. But, they were fun and fulfilling because of the camaraderie that saw us through even the worst days. But then you graduate, get a job, and move to a new neighborhood.
With your support base gone, you’re forced to build from scratch. Then there’s the stress that comes with navigating so many surface-level conversations with new people. That’s why keeping in touch with friends and family is essential to overcoming a quarter-life crisis.
How to Deal with a Quarter-Life Crisis
A quarter-life crisis is subjective – It is something you face alone. There’s no one out there with the answers as everyone else is busy trying to figure out life. But, fret not; we’re here with some of the ways you can walk out of this crisis with renewed enthusiasm.
Realize These Feelings Are Normal
While unfortunate, a quarter-life crisis is normal and happens to loads of people at some point in their lives. Your feelings are valid, and it’s not a sign of an unraveling mind. That way, you can find positive ways to move out of your crisis.
Give Yourself Some Thinking Space
The key to overcoming a quarter-life is understanding your issues. But, this is impossible if you don't take the time to think about it. The problem is we face long working hours, training, and on-job courses that leave little time for gazing into space.
However, working all day to come home to binge-watch TV shows, play video games, or party can take up the free time. You wake up feeling dread and confusion about life. Instead, set some time to sit and contemplate life each day. Run through the list of issues affecting you and credible fixes. Marking calendars, creating to-do lists, and setting up financial plans can help you attain clarity.
Taking time to think will not instantly solve your issues, but it helps you put things into perspective.
Seek the Counsel of a Sincere Person
We are social creatures, and being separated from our friends and families can have a devastating effect on our psyche. Sometimes this distance can lead to isolation, as you may be untrusting of your workmates and others in your new environment.
You can find reassurance and trustworthy advice from someone who understands you. This could be a new neighbor, office cube mate, or a drinking buddy. There is also no harm in seeking a therapist or a career counselor.
Make Your Thoughts Clear to Others
Communicating with your workmates is essential to a positive experience at work. This may call for loads of honesty but with a touch of sensitivity so as not to upset workplace dynamics. A failure to do so may lead to job dissatisfaction, which may stretch to your retirement.
It also helps to nature the same skills on the home front. For instance, you may desire to marry your partner and build a family somewhere down the line. Communicating this early enough allows you to have the conversations and do the work that will lead you into marriage.
Such a move also allows you to set reasonable boundaries in your relationships. That way, you get more time to focus on what’s best for you.
Remember That Your Career Doesn’t Define You
Feeling trapped in your life is common in your early 20s and 30s. For instance, you may have gone to college for a public relations degree, expecting it to be all about launch parties and celebrities. But, realize it’s merely a load of paper pushing and calls that wake you up in the middle of the night.
Such thoughts can drain your energy and leave you feeling stranded in a life you detest, especially after investing all that money and time into your education. However, it’s unwise to drown in those reservations. Instead, realize that your degree or job doesn’t define you.
Take some time to explore your options. Consider finding work in a different industry or sector that needs similar qualifications.
Embrace the Changes
The uncertainties that come with change can lead to anxiety, isolation, and fear. Your current situation may feel like a trap, but the alternatives may seem scarier. However, change is part of growth and progress in life.
For instance, you may want a promotion at work but wonder if you’re competent enough or can handle the new responsibilities. Upsetting the balance is the only way to improve your circumstance. Change is also inevitable, so it’s best to embrace it.
It’s the best time to make drastic changes in life, as it gets harder as you age. If you have the time and can commit resources to change your life – Go for it!
Make Bold Choice
Once you have things in perspective, it’s crucial to muster the courage to be decisive. And to stick with the consequences that may come. Sure, it’s unnerving, but it's better than going back and forth without a conclusion.
Can Ergonomic Changes Help Office Workers Cope with Quarter-Life Crisis?
A quarter-life crisis may be a mental issue, but your work environment can also add to your inner turmoil. If your office is uncomfortable, it can make you and your workmates dread work hours. You also need to realize that your body is changing and is suddenly unforgiving if you subject it to strenuous sitting or working positions. With that in mind, here are a few changes that can help with this process:
Comfortable Office Chairs
The office chair is one of the most essential pieces of office furniture. However, most office managers stick to the bare minimum –Anything goes, provided it can hold an employee’s weight. Studies show that sitting in the wrong posture all day can lead to back pain and other health problems.
Such issues can trigger or inflame a quarter-life crisis. Then, it becomes harder to think and plan effectively if you’re always in pain. An ergonomic office chair on the other hand shoulders all the weight. It redistributes it evenly, eliminating the pain and allowing you to focus on your existential dread.
Standing More Often
Getting a standing desk can be therapeutic during such a crisis in several ways that include:
It allows you to get up more often and improve your blood circulation. This helps you think more clearly.
It gives you room to add an under-the-desk treadmill or bike that you can use to sweat off the stress brought by your existential issues.
It may eliminate the occupational stress injuries that make you dread your job and existence.
Implementing Ergonomic Reach Zones
Ergonomic reach zones are a set of rules on setting up office furniture to allow convenient access. It’s all about putting office equipment into vertical and horizontal zones based on their significance to daily tasks.
This helps you save time, reduce stress, and develop enhanced organizational skills. With that, you can focus on your job and transfer the same mentality to your crisis.
Going through a quarter-life crisis is harrowing but natural. And, it may not be the last time you experience existential dread. Hopefully, these few tips give you the proper ammunition to slay this dragon.
It also helps to remember that we reach career and social peaks at different stages in life. So, seek fulfillment in everything you do instead of praise. It's your life, and you're going through this crisis because you’re trying to live it on your terms. You have a challenging journey ahead, but you’ll make it – we’re routing for you!