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Eyes wide open, but somehow it feels like life is passing right in front of your eyes, with you watching it slip through your hands. Lost in a life that you were supposed to have control over. Wishing you could replay parts of your life and restart it, afraid of what comes next. The fear creeping into your mind is letting you ponder about all your life decisions and yourself. It is making you wonder about where it went wrong and what exactly to do next.
“Is this how my life was supposed to look like? Wasn’t I supposed to be happy by now?”
Maybe you had it all planned out, a life plan on how you would live your perfect life, or at least you thought so. Or maybe you never had it figured out, and you just wanted to make it through each day. Yet, living your life suddenly feels so much more frightening. It feels like you lost yourself between the pages of your life. And there might have been a trigger for your current insecurity, such as change or a point of realization. But right now, you just want the never-ending thoughts to stop circling in your mind and block out the anxiety filling your body.
What you might be going through is a so-called quarter-life crisis. It is essentially the constant anxiety and stress about life and instability. You usually experience this crisis when you realize your life is not how you imagined it to be, and you feel extremely insecure. You could also call it an existential crisis. It can occur in the late teens and persist until the 30s. The quarter-life crisis, if severe, can even lead to depression and other physical symptoms, like fatigue, headaches, and restlessness. It might be the discrepancy you feel between what the precedent norms are, the things others expect from you, and what you want in your life.
There are several important things to remember.
You are not alone with your feelings and fears. Truthfully, rarely anyone your age really knows what they are doing. Everyone is currently in the process of creating their desired life, even though it might not look like it. When you reach out to people around you, you will soon realize that your fears and struggles are not so uncommon. Everyone, even the people, who seemingly have their life all figured out, once questioned their life purpose and direction.
There is also no right path to the perfect life because a perfect life doesn’t exist. Everyone faces obstacles and hardships throughout their life - it is part of our mundane existence. All we can do is try to figure out what it means for us to live a content life. Essentially, it involves gaining new experiences, trying out different things, taking risks, and more often failing will get you closer to the life you wish for. Don't try to rush through this time because life is supposed to be lived, and you have plenty of time ahead of you.
Life usually also doesn't come as we planned. You don’t have to have it all figured out. There are still so many years ahead of you, and the unknown is frightening, but it is what makes life exciting. Sometimes it's fine to just let life be, and although you might feel miserable at the moment, this will be the time you will get to see sides of yourself you’ve never seen before. Maybe this time is now about you and the redefinition of your future. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want might be more valuable than knowing what you want.
This “crisis” doesn’t have to be seen as a “crisis”. It is essentially a sign to show you that you are currently in a transition to reach the next stage of your life, and this change can be uncomfortable and scary, but all these struggles help you to step forward to become the person you want to be.
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Quarter Life Crisis: Defining Millennial Success | Sally White | TEDxRoyalCentralSchool - YouTube. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved December 6, 2020, from https://youtu.be/dgf0OUsQJuA
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SURFconext - Select an account to login to Maastricht University - Hosted EZProxy. (n.d.). Engine.surfconext.nl. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://web-s-ebscohost-com.mu.idm.oclc.org/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=30c0d312-bad3-46a5-b460-af51420b9c4d%40redis&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=10728323&db=bth
Flynn, S. (2020). Critical disability studies and quarter life crisis: Theorising life stage transitional crisis for disabled emerging adults. Disability & Society, 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2020.1822783
Brigham, T. (n.d.). Signs You’re Having A Quarter-Life Crisis (And What To Do About It). Forbes. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tessbrigham/2022/06/07/signs-youre-having-a-quarter-life-crisis-and-what-to-do-about-it/?sh=40582a326b2e
New LinkedIn research shows 75 percent of 25-33 year olds have experienced quarter-life crises. (n.d.). News.linkedin.com. https://news.linkedin.com/2017/11/new-linkedin-research-shows-75-percent-of-25-33-year-olds-have-e
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