The quarter-life crisis emerges in young adulthood when you take the first steps into “real life” and realize you have no idea what you’re doing.
When I graduated from college and went off to my first real job, I felt like I had ARRIVED. I had been on my own for several years, and I was sure I had this adult thing figured out. I could pay my own rent, cook for myself, manage my own time, and do decently well socially. Piece of cake, right?
Except it wasn’t.
The essence of the quarter-life crisis is standing on the edge of everything you have been with the future staring you in the face, wondering who you really are and what you want. You worry that you’re not doing the right thing with your life, but you don’t know what the right thing is. You start to think more about the future, to worry more about things like providing for a family and saving for retirement. The reality of new life stages, like marriage and children (or not being married or having children, in my case), starts to settle in. You get out of school and are happy not to have homework, but suddenly the structure and predictability that comes semester after semester is gone, and you have to figure out on your own what to do with your life. It’s exhilarating, but also terrifying.
So don’t worry—if you feel that way, you’re not alone.
I still feel like I’m in the middle of my own quarter-life crisis, but I’ve found a few things that have helped me weather the uncertainty of this stage of life.