Warning if you came here looking for answers, I’m sorry. I have no solutions. I’m 11 days away from turning 27 and I’m no expert on navigating quarter-life crises — or life for that matter. What I can do is share my experience.
Earlier this year, on a cool Thursday morning at work, I closed my office door as I was in the midst of a panic attack. Something in the email I just read made me flash forward and I saw myself sitting at the same desk in five years, doing the same thing. I couldn’t catch my breath, my mind was racing and I started to cry. I felt stuck. I let myself get all of that emotion out and then I started breathing deep relaxing breaths like they teach you in yoga, settled my mind, fixed my makeup – thank god my mascara was waterproof – and responded to the email. However, I wondered if this was the onset of my quarter-life crisis?
Quarter-Life Crisis — It’s a Real Thing
A Google search for quarter-life crisis delivers 7,720,000 results. That’s right over 7 million results. A Harvard Business Review article outlined the four typical stages:
- Stage 1 – The first stage is a feeling of being trapped or locked into a commitment. This commitment could be a job, a relationship, or social group.
- Stage 2 – The second stage occurs as people begin to separate themselves mentally and/or physically from the commitment that is making them feel trapped.
- Stage 3 – In this stage people really try to explore new options. This can involve quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making them feel trapped.
- Stage 4 – This is the rebuilding stage. This is the time when you have more clarity in life and are more motivated to pursue the things you want.
As I clicked through dozens of articles, I became less concerned. Personally, this seemed less like a crisis and more of a battle against complacency. Now I’m not saying this isn’t a real thing. I completely understand people going through this cycle of stages. Hello, my panic attack at work clearly fits the parameters of stage 1. However, I’ve always been one to set goals. I’ve come to realize that sometimes my deadlines for them are sometimes a little unrealistic. While I may not have achieved everything I want right now, I have achieved a lot. My breakdown was really a moment of awareness that I can do better and there is nothing wrong with that.
I’m going to stop calling this a crisis and just label it a transition.
Slowly, but surely, I’ll start feeling less like I’m pretending to be an adult and more like I actually am. I hope the same happens for anyone else journeying through a quarter-life transition.
Do you think the quarter-life crisis is a real thing? Are you going through it now or have you been though it? Leave your thoughts and any advice below!