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Quarter Life Crisis & 4 Ways To Deal With It.

A quarter life crisis is not a myth. Every 20-something reaches a point in life that is the peak of the adult version of adolescence. At that point begin a series of assessments, of one’s accomplishments, relationships, and the past, present & future. More often than not, these assessments give way to disappointment, anger and confusion, or a 20-something’s version of a mid-life crisis. The severity and implications of a Quarter Life Crisis aka QLC vary with each individual.

A study solemnly reports that every 3 in 4 people aged 26 to 30 go through a Quarter Life Crisis, while the Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia have some broad opinions on what such a crisis entails. The pace at which our generation moves has redefined most demographics, and having just turned 23, I’m attempting to discuss how to cope with a QLC, and hoping I wouldn’t relapse.

1. Let go.

We carry a heavy burden from our past, of broken friendships, unfulfilled promises and seemingly wrong choices. In retrospect however, these defining moments have made us who we are today, and if we look deep down inside, we’ve turned out just fine. We’ll never know what those friendships might have brought us, or those promises. We’ll never know how a different choice might have changed our lives, for better or for worse.

What we do know is our present, and chances are, it’s not as bad as we sometimes make it look. Take what you have and move on. Empty your backpack of the burden. Let go.

contemplation, quarter life crisis

2. The 80-20 rule.

In the last few months, I’ve developed great affinity with a self-derived version of the 80-20 rule : Spend 80% of your time with 20% of the people that matter most. Adulthood is marked with a steep rise in responsibilities and commitments, leaving much less time to manage relationships. Gone are the days when we could juggle a dozen people every day on different scales of friendship and trust.

Ask yourself, who are the people that laugh and cry with you, that make you happy, and you’ll know how to use the 80-20 rule.

3. Do what you love.

It’s the only way to live. We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do. Sometimes, it takes longer to be able to do what we love, but we have to continuously work towards that light at the end of the dark tunnel we’re stuck in.  As George Elliot says, it’s never too late to be what you might have been.

At a sub-conscious level, we know what we love to do. Many people put it into a box that hangs at the back of their heads, surfacing again at their mid-life crisis. Unlock that box and start adding thoughtful ingredients to it, so someday, your life will be the product of that concoction.

A friend pointed me to how-to-do-what-you-love wisdom by Paul Graham for further inspiration. Get inspired :)

4. Be comfortable in your own shoes

The only person you need to impress is yourself. Say that to yourself every moment of every day till you internalize it, and you’ll see a giant difference in the way you do things. It’s human nature to feel judged, but that’s also the greatest obstacle to making the most of life and everything that comes with it. I can’t help but urge you to read there’s-no-better-time-to-be-happy-than-now piece by Crystal Boyd.

I'm scared I can't be any more perfect, impress yourself,

Spend your QLC thinking of what really matters in life, because that’s all that matters. And know that you’re not alone, we’re all in it together.

Also read: 25 things I’d tell the 25-year-old me

SPONSORED: Want to do what you love for a living, but need the right degree? Check out these great degrees.

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice post.
    I like the way you write about life’s problems and sometimes philosophize. You make these posts sound like you are sharing more than you are preaching.
    Keep Blogging

    February 27, 2011
    • Thanks for dropping by and for the encouragement :) All these ‘philosophies’ are born out of personal experiences, so I’m glad they come across as sharing. Hope to see you here again!

      February 27, 2011
  2. Dev #

    I had heard about the 80-20 rule in corporate wisdom(s).
    But now I guess that using it in personal life can be pretty fruitful too. You have quite nicely re-introduced the 80-20 rule to me. ;-)

    March 1, 2011
    • Pleasure :) It’s a beautiful rule to follow in life :)

      March 4, 2011
  3. The link from the Paul Graham site was great. I found this one there too. Read it if you haven’t already

    http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html

    March 2, 2011
    • Thanks, just read it. Inspiring indeed, and wish I had heard it in high school!

      March 4, 2011
  4. It’s ndeed a pleasure reading a 23 year old writing as if you have experienced so many things in life. I loved the 3 rd and 4th rule very well. Travel time for me.
    See you, take care.

    March 6, 2011
    • Thanks Chitra! As they say, age is just a number :) Tell me if you try the rules, especially the 80-20 rule. It’s working beautifully for me!

      March 8, 2011
  5. I just watched the video you shared on my blog. Thanks .Good message.

    March 6, 2011
  6. Rishika #

    Liked your article. Read this other one on the same topic : http://www.cds.caltech.edu/~shane/text/quarterlifecrisis.html

    March 10, 2011
  7. It is nice to know that you have got such a good grasp and understanding of your life at this age. Nice thoughts!

    March 22, 2011
    • Thanks Sajeev & welcome to The Shooting Star :) Words can be deceiving when it comes to understanding life!

      March 22, 2011
  8. hey, i am 23 and facing the same this, quater life crisis. i didnt recon that i have one until somehow i came across it and realized the symptoms are all the same, all of the article i found on the net is all about what QLC about, but little of them tells how to deal with it, but i have to say yours is very tranquiling to read and now i feel energized again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    November 18, 2011
  9. Xi #

    I’m 25 and I think I’m suffering from QLC. The aspect that really affected me the most is that I never had a Girlfriend and somehow I see myself as an unlikable person which really tortures me mentally. Right now I like someone but there are a lot of negative thoughts that keep holding me back to pursue her. I’m alsoworried with my financial stability. I worried about these things for the past years, but this time the frequency of these thoughts are a lot worse to the point that I’m forcing myself to be distracted just to get rid of unhealthy thoughts. Thanks for sharing this, I hope I can learn to deal with this soon.

    December 17, 2011
  10. C.E. C. #

    Hi, I just turned 25 last month but I already felt ancient. I am usually in and out of jobs because I don’t know what I want and I spent most of my time bumming around after graduating from college. Now I am currently working as a helper in a country where people are rude to help; which I’m not so psyched about. I am not happy with what I’m doing right now and I wanted so much more than this. But there’s no way of quitting again, I can’t even afford it. I came from a poor family and a poor country. And I’m just lucky to have an education but then and again what do I need it for when I’m just scrubbing floors and toilets. And if my mom stops working too, I will be the one catching all the burden on the rebound and I’m just scared I won’t be able to have my own life.

    I’m sorry, I know this is a comment box but I just wanted some pointer’s on this one. Be glad to receive an email from you. Thanks and I love your site.

    March 23, 2012
    • It’s a stage of life we’ve all been through, some sooner than later. Most people who hate their jobs still stick around because they can’t figure out what they want, atleast you’ve been experimenting with things. I’m sure you’ll have it all figured out soon, until then, know that you’re trying :) Good luck!

      March 27, 2012
  11. Shivya, Well, already feeling good to find out its just not me whose going through this turmoil. There are others who are going through this and there’s you who have been through this and come out strong. Thanks for the article. Its really helpful.

    November 23, 2012
    • Indeed Pratik, you’re not alone. I’ve come a long way since, and I’m sure you will too. Hang in there :)

      November 24, 2012
  12. hi, landed on your website while looking for information on visitor visa for Canada and I must say your site glued me on for quite sometime. I got impressed and ended up writing you here. I have been to central Europe’s 8 countries(schengen) and UK in 2012. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in 2013.
    How easy its with Canadian Visa for 2014. any suggestion will ease my travel anxiety to first time North America trip. though I have a friend in Calgary with whom I will stay. I e mailed your “quarter life crisis” to my bro, good insight into how life should be lived…

    September 23, 2013
  13. Samantha #

    Hi Shivya,

    I was researching on Quarter Life Crisis and I found this post. I had been through QLC since 2 years ago and believe that now my QLC is over. It has been the best thing that I gone through although at that point of time, I feel lost – not knowing what I want in life- and hurt for the reality vs what I thought life would be during adulthood.

    Glad that you provide ways to overcome QLC. Very beneficial for those going through the crisis. Cheers

    September 26, 2013
  14. Excellent article. I’m facing many of these issues as well..

    June 1, 2014

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