Are you in the middle of a quarter life crisis? This experience (which can actually hit you in your early twenties) is more common than you think. For some, it’s a mild but unshakeable sense of anxiety that they can’t make it in a very competitive world. ‘College didn’t prepare me for this,’ or ‘It’s not what I expected.’ They can feel insecure, confused, and overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed. For some, this feeling escalates into depression. Here are symptoms of quarter life crisis.
Quarter life crisis: a lost generation
Almost everyone goes through some kind of ‘shell shock’ when they’re thrust into the real world. Achievers are actually more vulnerable to the pressure—everyone expects them to do well, but they realize that the rules that worked in the classroom don’t apply in the corporate jungle. Then there’s the bit blow to the ego, when they see they’re no longer the Big Man on Campus, and they have to earn the respect of co-workers who are not easily impressed or prone to giving praise.
The quarter life crisis may also be exacerbated by the recession, as they find difficulty finding jobs to pay off their unsecured student loans. Broke, unemployed (or underemployed) they understandably feel like the world is eating them up alive.
Symptoms of a quarter life crisis
The dominant feeling of a quarter life crisis is a sense of failure: you can’t get a job, or a job that matches your skills or expectations. You may also feel confused or overwhelmed by the office politics and the other unspoken rules of the corporate world. Or, you may be disillusioned, as your ideals and dreams clash with the ‘realities’ of the job.
As the days go by, you don’t grow more confident in your skills: you may be bored by the tedium of everyday tasks, or insecure about your ability to finish them well (especially if you have a very demanding boss). Worst of all, you can’t confidently tell yourself that things will get better. The future seems very shaky—you’re not sure if you can keep this job, find a better one, or ever be able to succeed in your chosen industry. ‘Did I do the right thing?’ you ask, ‘Is this for me?’ You question your identity and your competence.
This daily anxiety affects your relationships: you may clam up, be unable to reach out to friends or to make new ones (or you create a lot of shallow friendships but keep everyone at arm’s length). You’re afraid of anyone seeing what you’re going through, especially when you believe that you’re the only one who’s this insecure—everyone else is doing great (or is at least better able to pretend that they are).
You desperately miss school and the certainty you enjoy there. But you can’t go back, and you can’t move forward, and thus you feel stuck: without a goal, passion, or faith in yourself.
Photo from under30ceo.com