Most definitions of “quarterlife crisis” that we see involve careers in some way.
There is the first crisis that usually happens during college when you don’t know which major to pick, and then the next might happen when you figure out that school might not be for you.
The next crisis happens at graduation, when suddenly thrust into the “real world” you have no idea what you should do now, and the following happens when you find out that either what you majored in doesn’t provide good job prospects, or that your job is slowly sucking away at your soul.
But there are other factors to the crisis of the quarter life variety that don’t involve your job.
There is the feeling you get when it seems as if your peers are surpassing you at hitting all of life’s benchmarks.
Or the way you feel when you realize that what you want doesn’t look at all like what the rest of the world thinks you should be striving for.
And it’s that moment when you have to decide to attempt to be “normal” just for the sake of keeping the social peace in your life, or to ride out the waves of discomfort when you decide to do your own thing.
5 Phases of Crisis
According to a study presented by the British Psychological Society, there are five phases to the quarter-life crisis (via New Scientist):
Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.
Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.
Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.
Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.
Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.
Crisis. Multilevel and multi-meaning in every single way; and it’s just damn exhausting.
So what is the quarter-life crisis, really?
I think it’s the moment when your heart is urging you to stop, to be more self-aware, and to think carefully about if and how you want your life to deviate from the norm. It’s natures way of pushing you towards more than you were ready to settle for.
That’s what I think. How about you?
***Join me over the next few weeks as I examine each phase of the quarter-life crisis. If you have ideas for particular things that you think I should examine, contact me.
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