One Signal of a Quarter-Life Crisis

Have you heard of quarter-life crisis?

Everyone has heard of midlife crisis. In fact, most people know someone who has gone through it. It’s a forty-something (or fifty-year-old) who began to question who he was or what he’d accomplished, and decided to make a change — new wife, new car, new career, new goatee, new earring, etc. (It can happen to both genders.)

Quarter-life crisis is a growing issue among twenty-somethings. Alexandria Robbins and Abby Wilner wrote a book about it (Quarterlife Crisis), and introduced the world to a growing number of 25-year-old young adults who were experiencing depression and anxiety because of the transition from the school world to the real world. Prior to graduation, life seemed so easy and programmed. Adults told the students what classes to take and where to go next. But now — there’s so much uncertainty, so many options, choices and fuzziness. Before, meeting someone new was as easy as walking into a bathroom in the residence hall. Now — it’s different, hard and scary.

Robbins and Wilner wrote something I want you to consider: “The most widespread, frightening and quite possibly the most difficult manifestation of the quarter-life crisis is a feeling that can creep up on a twenty-something whether he is unemployed, living at home and friendless or in an interesting job, with a great apartment and dozens of buddies. Regardless of self-esteem, confidence and overall well-being, twenty-somethings are particularly vulnerable to doubts. They doubt their decisions, their abilities, their readiness, their past, present, and future… and most of all, they doubt themselves… They question everything.”

Here’s how you can help them as a friend and mentor:

1. Acknowledge that there is such a thing as quarter-life crisis and it’s normal.
2. Allow them to vent their doubts and questions to you in a safe place.
3. Relieve them of guilt. Remind them they shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.
4. Help them put together a pro and con list for each major decision.
5. Only after you’ve listened to them, share some of your stories, even failures.
6. Talk through a value system that will help them make principle-based decisions.

Do you know someone who’s experiencing a quarter-life crisis? Any suggestions on ways to help them through the process?


One Signal of a Quarter-Life Crisis