You graduate from college expecting to find your way quickly. You imagine yourself in your dream job, a stable relationship, and living in a home all your own. You thought you were going to have everything you wanted.
But, the reality is you walked across that stage at graduation and moved in with your parents and settled for your old barista job—just to “hold you over.” Or maybe you got a job in your major but you aren’t quite sure if this is where you belong. You long to be successful and fear making mistakes. The stuff you did as a teenager feels like the stuff you should be doing, but when you do it you feel old. You long for the stability of adulthood but cling to the years as a child. You are ending relationships, finding new friends, and moving around…you are trying to find your place. Where do you belong? What will make you happy? You are struggling with the quarter-life crisis—the uncertainty of the in-between years—the ones where you are teetering between childhood and adulthood. And, you are not alone.
A survey of 1,000 young adults found that 86 percent feel pressure to succeed in their careers, relationships, and finances before hitting the age of 30 (source: The Guardian). That is a lot to take on right out of the gate. These things take time and sometimes that time and the insecurities surrounding those choices make you feel lost and depressed. So what are some things you can do if you are struggling with a quarter-life crisis?
First things first, keep in mind that not all crisis is bad. Those scary questions you are asking yourself and that drive to do well in your life will only help to motivate you to not settle, to find what makes you happy and what feels right. Sorry to tell you, but likely there will be some mistakes along the way. You may take a job (or pass up on a job) just because and regret the decision later. You may enter in what you thought was your dream career and find a different path suits you better. These are all things that will eventually lead you to where you belong. There will be lots of lessons along the way—good and bad.
It is all about perspective. Life is not supposed to be easy. Easy would be boring. Lower your expectations and open your mind to all the possibilities. Maybe you won’t meet all your personal goals in the timeline you set for yourself, but you will eventually get where you are going. Let some of the pressure off. You have your whole life in front of you. Enjoy the journey along the way, and don’t be afraid to seek help.
If you are struggling with feelings of being overwhelmed, depressed, sad, alone, or lost, it might be helpful to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. They can help to give you that little bit of guidance or reassurance you need. Everything will be ok. As Dr. Seuss says — “Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
Author: Jamie Rimby
Jamie is a licensed professional counselor at Move Forward, as well as a National Certified Counselor. She is a graduate of Arcadia University in Glenside, PA with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She has been in practice for more than six years, meeting with clients individually, as well as facilitating groups and providing educational programming. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time on nature walks, trying cuisine from around the world, and making memories with her family and friends.