We have seen middle-aged people suddenly realize that they have worked all their life and have forgotten to enjoy it and spend time on leisure activities. While most of us are aware of what a mid-life crisis is, since we have watched our parents have it when we were growing up, nobody prepared us for a crisis in our years of youth, most commonly known as a quarter-life crisis.
The quarter-life crisis is a period of intense doubt, insecurity, and disappointment surrounding careers, relationships and financial situations in your 20s till your mid-30s. Yes, it is real. No, it is not a rich man’s disease. Yes, it can be treated.
When you check out your successful ex-schoolmate’s Instagram post that flaunts her perfect life or meet a friend who is getting into all the right places in life, don’t you get that weird feeling of being incomplete? Does the idea, that people are achieving great heights while you are still struggling to get somewhere in life fill you with a sense of panic? Don’t be hesitant, this is very common and has happened to most of us.
Our childhood visions of what our life is going to be added to listening to parental tales of their milestones, added to the image of perfect life reinforced by TV and films are no longer realistic. The pressure of becoming that ideal man or woman right after you enter your youth, get a sophisticated job, stay lean and fit and be funny and smart; all these expectations are burdensome. We forget that we have just grown up and it will take time and as a part of our great Indian lives, it will take even more time since our parents never let us grow up and learn things on our own. Our grandmothers might have got married at 21 and might have had 2 kids by the time they were 24, however in recent times, many of us at this stage are still living in our parent’s house figuring out our career and relationships.
The smallest things set us off, anything can lead you to ask the big questions, from finding an old bucket list with unachieved goals to realizing you are in a relationship with no future. Countless questions are raised in our heads, “Do I have time to start all over?”, “Should I start chasing my dream now?” and the most dreadful, “Am I even talented or deserving?”. What these questions actually do is cause a quarter-life crisis. It depresses us and fills us with a sense of deep frustration. Most commonly a sense of failure is evoked. We lose confidence and optimism and look for an escape. Most of us resort to building a perfect image of our lives on social media, to make ourselves feel better. Failed or strained relationships or the pressure to get married and have kids or not getting the job of your dreams or getting the job of your dreams and realizing it is not what you expected, and so many things that don’t go the way we want them to cause extreme distress; don’t let any of this put you down.
A quarter-life crisis can be treated, you can get out of this phase.
- Firstly stop comparing yourself to others. Nobody becomes successful in all aspects of life in one day. If you haven’t realized this already, let me tell you that those who flaunt their ‘perfect lives’ on social media too have their own share of problems. So no matter how shiny their life appears on the outside, it is not as shiny on the inside.
- Talk about your anxiety, don’t be ashamed. The quarter life crisis is not a new concept, it has been there for ages and is very natural. Taling and dealing with it is a way utilized to articulate what it feels like to have this peculiar sense of failure.
- Stop doubting yourself and start working towards your goals. If you don’t know in which direction to go, start researching. Knowledge never kills, in fact, it gives us new ideas. If you don’t have a specific goal in your mind, don’t worry. Shortlist a few things that you are interested in and take up internships to find out what you enjoy the most. Meet new people through common friends, and put yourself out there.
- Stop beating yourself with the burden of what you were supposed to do by the time you were 25 or whatever you had in mind. Your age is not your limit. You are still in your prime years and there is nothing you are too old for. Explore things you like and do them.
- Try to be more accepting. Accept your reality even if it isn’t your golden palace. Acceptance will end your feeling of anxiety and the sense of being lost.
Finally, don’t forget that you are awesome! Let me remind you that you are awesome because you are worried about yourself and your future. Invest time in yourself and laugh your way out. It is normal and it will pass, stay hopeful because Alexander Pope said, “hope springs eternal strength in the human heart”. Well, it is true and works wonders.