A sigh of remorse after yet another work day. The drudgery of the office. The constant yearning to have more, get more, do more, or earn more, combined with an overwhelming feeling of angst and depression at the thought of finally succumbing to the ‘rat race.’ These aren’t the symptoms of someone approaching midlife; instead, they’re the shared concerns of twentysomethings who have collided with the benchmark life point sitting at the quarter century. They term this period a Quarter Life Crisis, a time of transition in adulthood that is heading towards, well, midlife.
Shortly after the grand entrance into the Real World, a few months or years shy of marriage or the dreaded C-word known as commitment , these twentysomethings endure a period of painful self reflection and jump forward into the bottomless pit of unanswerables. Where am I going? How did I get here? Is the meaning of life really42??
Although it may not have a direct cause, the Quarter Life Crisis has many similar symptoms to its Midlife counterpart. The internal struggle may not lead to a radical haircut, a desperate attempt for cosmetic surgery, or buying the bright orange Camaro–usually this point has already been reached. Instead, the surefire signs steadily bubble under the surface, culminating into a depressive state of mind and attitude. The grey cloud hangs high above, as these sufferers experience increased feelings of insecurity, disappointment with life and ‘The Job’, and a confused sense of identity. Personality in conflict? Perhaps, and the time is rife with troubles and instability.
Key characteristics and signs of this transitional period include:
· Increased restlessness and lethargy in daily life
· Frustration with work and the job; admittedly caring much less about gossip at the watercooler or ‘making a career’ of their current profession
· Insecurity about the future, including settling down into a house, starting a family, or taking on the responsibilities of a long-term relationship
· Bored with friends-the Friday night get-togethers just aren’t the same
· Frustration with finances-everything is so expensive or overpriced, and there’s never enough money
· Feeling that everyone else is better off, smarter, more secure, and on ‘their path’
· Identity crisis-questioning roles and responsibilities that were once embraced with open arms
· Nostalgia for going back to school, re-living the ‘old college days’
· Insecurity at the job, with a feeling of not being able to get the next promotion or succeed in the current position
· Depressive symptoms and low energy while pursuing activities that once bought enjoyment
The frequency of this incessant angst is prevalent enough that an entire organization has been developed to support sufferers. Quarter-life-crisis.com was formed to help individuals get through self-examining mode, featuring poetry, blogs, and short stories on how people are overcoming their daily obstacles. The popular blog Is.This.It? is home to a network of brave souls who share their daily trials and tribulations by posting comments and sharing stories on a live forum. Sidebar categories include ‘Happiness’, ‘Mind’, ‘Relations’, and ‘Work’, along with a growing membership of discussion forum participants.
The persistent bad mood and bleak outlook may be an indication of the Quarter Life Crisis, especially for those twentysomethings making decisions on settling down or making a new commitment. Can it be prevented? Thousands of sufferers don’t seem to think so, where posting on blogs and discussion forums with the right questions might, just maybe, yield some insightful answers. Meanwhile, sharing the lifestyle of the Quarter Life Crisis may provide some relief and understanding of its symptoms.