Quarter-life Crisis: Do You Have One and How To Cope With It?

It was 2 am and a crazy idea came to my head like it always does at 2 am:

I decided to write an email to a person in a leadership position whom I’d met briefly from a networking event to share my life story and seek mentorship because I thought reaching out like this might open up something surprising.

It sounds fun, right? Except that person is a stone-faced middle-aged man who works in a big… investment bank (I know! How relevant…) and definitely has no recollection of meeting me at all (Not surprised.)

For these two reasons alone, I doubt that he would even bother to read — let alone appreciate — what in fact was going to be… a quarter-life crisis ranting piece (that had nothing to do with him) in his corporate inbox.

Ooh, cringy.

Don’t worry, I never finished that email. I realised halfway through that I was indeed not trying to expand my network but revealing my utmost inner thoughts specifically to a completely random person.

There must be something seriously wrong going on that made me want to do such an absurd thing like that.

As it turned out, I didn’t really care about him or his insights in particular. I was crying out for help. I was unknowingly depressed and lost and stuck.

In retrospect, I’ve actually been in this state for quite a while now and, many times, gotten to the verge of doing something impulsive and random, which I thought was me being young and fun. (Well, I wasn’t.)

Today I’ve decided to be brave and get real with you about my crisis because it’s an important matter to me and I believe me sharing about my own struggles will be helpful to you one way or the other.

Even though I’m not an expert or in any position to mentor you, at least for now I can give you the comfort of knowing you’re not alone in this and it’s okay to panic.

Here’s a list of things I experience on a daily basis as a twenty-something who’s about to step into the adult world (when I don’t try hard enough to distract myself) and you may realise your situation is not so bad:

  • I’m in limbo.

  • I don’t know where I’m going to be in a year’s time.

  • I’m constantly checking my emails, wishing for a miracle.

  • Life doesn’t go as planned.

  • I’m bitch-slapped by reality every time I get a rejection email basically saying that I’m not good enough and definitely not as good as I think I’m.

  • I feel like I can do more and my life needs to be changed but I don’t know how and why.

  • I question everything I’ve done and what I’m going to do.

  • Real life is much tougher than I thought it would be.

  • My dreams are being shattered one by one and I have no choice but to accept it.

  • I might have too high expectations of who I’m going to be and never be who I want to be.

  • I disappoint myself more than once.

  • I’m not yet where I want to be and I don’t even know if I will ever get there.

  • I realise I’m not so special.

So you see, most of the times I have no clue what I’m going to do with my life and this quarter-life crisis is getting as real and painful as looking at my bank account after the Christmas period. Hint: I’m pretty much broke — as if being depressed and lost didn’t make me miserable enough.

On the occasions I look like I do have some kind of clues, trust me, I’m really just making my best guesses like everyone else out there. (So please don’t expose me — I will lose it and question my life again and go cry in a corner. Just let me pretend I know what I’m doing till shit gets real, okay?)

That being said, I’ve done a lot of thinking lately and come up with a few ideas to help us cope with this. I realise this crisis, like any other mental crisis, is a bottomless pit and, if I make the mistake of throwing myself down there, I will never hit the ground or see the sunlight again.

Meanwhile, if the time and energy spent dwelling on this were used for something more useful, say learning a new skill or a new language, my life might actually change.So what do we do now?

Learn to live with the questions

Who am I? What do I exist for? Why do I do what I do if I’m going to die anyway? etc. They are there and are going to stay there so accept them and start to live with them in peace. It’s okay to not know. Maybe life is not about knowing what it means. It’s about the experiences. What have you done today? Did you make it count?

Stop thinking so much

Reflecting is good but sometimes it’s even better to quiet your inner voice and focus on living life instead. If you must think, try to switch your stream of thoughts to something else. There are many entertaining and thought-provoking topics that will benefit you in many ways, like science or business. Why not?

Focus on the external world

In other words, do more. Seek experiences. Just for once, let things happen. Say yes. Learn something new. Set practical goals. Make small changes. Go see the world. At some points, you will be able to connect the dots and it might surprise you.

Find something to believe in

It’s very important to have faith. It doesn’t need to be a religion but you need to have faith. Be it yourself, your family and close friends, or anything in life. It will give you strength and help guide you through hard times.

If you have any better ideas, feel free to add to this list. For the time being, I will apply these to my daily life and see if it makes a difference. After all, it must start from somewhere and I decided that it starts with me, today.

Even though I still have no idea what future holds for me, I will keep following my best guesses and taking my chances because no matter what happens, there is one thing that always stays true: I haven’t given up on myself and I’m not going to give up on myself.

Also, I’m inspired by my best friend who follows her heart and works for a promising start-up instead of taking secure corporate jobs that she knows won’t fulfil her. How amazing is that?I want to be fearless and strong and positive to inspire her and others too. And have a really good time doing whatever I’m doing with my life.

Hey, you. You’re going to have a good time and inspire someone too. Promise? We’re going to get through this together.

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