No one knew what a quarter life crisis was 10 years ago. Heck, I doubt people even heard of it. Now, it seems to be the new three word summary to describe the inevitable fate of every millennial and generation z individual.
Which is sad, because a quarter life crisis is essentially an existential crisis that’s going to hit you sometime in your late twenties to thirties. An existential crisis is already sad, but to have one so early in life is just depressing.
So what exactly is an existential crisis?
It’s a moment, or a period of time where someone questions their life direction, purpose and overall meaning of their existence. It sounds dramatic and it feels equally dramatic for the person going through it. There’s this heavy feeling of hopelessness, dread and regret that washes over your entire being.
You could be getting ready to sleep and suddenly wonder why you do the same thing everyday, and if this is your life for the next 40 years before you reach retirement…IF you can even afford to retire.
You could be at work, sitting at your desk and realise you don’t care about what you do. You don’t like what you do and you don’t even like the people you do it with, but you do it because of money, which makes you question “the point of it all”.
It could be Sunday evening and just the thought of it being Monday the next day makes you wonder how on earth your life has turned out so monotonous, lacking of passion and repetitive.
It’s basically the moment you get “woke” on life and start panicking about your current life being nothing you had hoped for as a kid.
Why the quarter life crisis?
Existential crisis can come at any moment, but there’s a reason why it tends to happen in your twenties and thirties now, and not your 40’s or 50’s like the well-known “mid-life crisis”.
We grew up with more information than the baby boomers. We were given the message “the world is your oyster” again and again since we were able to comprehend words. From the increase knowledge of what life could offer to the endless encouragement from our guardians…we were bound to be disappointed as adults.
And that’s not because life actually sucks, life is awesome. It can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you learn how to step outside the norm. And this is where the problem lies.
We were told we could be anything we wanted and we watched TV shows and movies that made it seem like anything is possible, but we also told every kid to do the same thing.
Go to school, go to college, join a graduate program and climb the ladder. Life will be good once you make six figures. You can buy that car, that handbag, go on that holiday and live in that house. You will be young and you will have disposable cash. You will find love and your life will be filled with new experiences a city can offer.
This is what society has told us and this is what most of us believed. (hey, if you say a lie enough times it becomes true…)
We essentially linked happiness with our job titles and material possessions.
When I write it out, it seems obvious how that would never lead to happiness and people are bound to come to their senses sooner or later. Which makes the timing of a quarter life crisis, make perfect sense.
You finished your formal education, been in the workforce for a few years. You’ve been doing the day-in-and-day-out grind for a while now. You’re in the “prime” of your life and yet you feel utterly empty and lost with life. It’s no wonder why you’re questioning the meaning of life.
Everything you thought was true and every decision you made to get you where you wanted has led to…nothing of worth.
Welcome to your quarter life crisis.
What to do about your millennial burnout
The only way to deal with your quarter life crisis is to find meaning back into your life. Sometimes this could mean resetting it completely and at other times it could mean a simple mental shift on how you see the world.
First thing you need to do
The first thing to do to get yourself out of this rut is to figure out what’s causing it. Sure you understand your life sucks, you don’t feel like you’re living with purpose, direction or progress, but all of these are too vague to do anything constructive.
You need to know exactly why you feel hopeless. Are your friendships lacking? Do you have too little time for leisure? Are you doing work you don’t care about? Did you think you would be married with kids by now? Do you find your weekends boring? Are you waking up thinking what you do in 24 hours means nothing? Do you see your contribution to the world as zero?
What is causing your disappointment in life?
Most often than not it’s several things, but there’s always one that’s bigger than the rest. And that’s a good starting point to tackle your quarter life crisis.
Don’t be afraid of the unusual
It’s not enough to know what’s lacking in your life. You also have to do something about it.
(I don’t baby people on here at MDW) Most of you guys know EXACTLY what you need to do almost instantly once you figure out what exactly you are lacking in. BUT most people never do anything about it.
There’s a lot of fear of the unknown, which prevents us from taking actions that matter. Instead you find people get a new haircut, go on a few more tinder dates, buy more things, or go on a lavish holiday, all hoping it’s enough to find some happiness and meaning in life.
To only find themselves in the same place the next month.
I should know, because I’ve had countless existential crisis moments in my life before I decided to take control of my own life and stop living on autopilot mode.
I decided to start my own business right out of Uni with no money and zero experience. I decided to create a location independent life where I travel whenever and to wherever. It’s unconventional. I was met with a lot of nay sayers, and doubters from people around me who didn’t understand why I couldn’t just follow the “normal” path.
But the “normal” path isn’t a one size fits all.
The world was never meant to have everyone living the same lives with the same goals.
It’s time to take action. There’s no shortcuts, tricks or hacks. You just have to take action no matter how big or how small. You need to do something proactive to achieve a life you truly believe in.
If it means quitting your job because you want to do something you value other than your monthly pay check. Quit and go do it!
If it means forcing yourself to cut ties with toxic people that bring you down. Cut it and go find better people for company!
If it means downsizing your lifestyle because you realise you don’t care about your car collection, avocado toast brunches with $5 coffees or brand named clothes. Downsize and start using your money in other ways!
It’s not complicated, it can just be rather hard to go against the grain. Especially since you grew up with the message that its the only option for a “good” life.
Final words of advice
If you do find yourself struggling to take action. Not because you don’t know what you lack or what to do, but because you’re scared of the unknown. Then I would suggest you to read my post on making tough decisions and do some hard self-reflecting.
What could go wrong? If you’re having a quarter life crisis, then you pretty much have nothing to lose but the potential of a happy life. Why deny yourself the chance to pursue happiness?