The term "quarter-life crisis" has often been a point of ridicule among those quick to criticize Millennials. If you've only lived 20 to 30 years, certainly you haven't experienced enough of life to have a crisis, right? But given the world we live in today, young adults experience so much insecurity and doubt at this stage of life that their troubles feel worthy of being elevated to crisis level.
Between paying off student debt, job-hopping, swiping left and right for love and more, quarter-life crises can often be difficult to manage. If you're not sure that you've faced a quarter-life crisis yourself, here are some of the "symptoms:"
- Feeling like you never have enough money
- Being in a job that you can't stand, but staying in it anyway
- Your friends are at a vastly different stage of life than you despite being the same age
- Hopelessness in finding love
- Feeling like you're in a rut
To add insult to injury, the older generations don't understand. Buying a house was more affordable and there was no hangover from college debt. It was far easier to settle down back then compared to today.
The good news is that none of this has to be a crisis at all. Instead, it's an opportunity to press the reset button and figure out what's working and what's not, then find a way out. If quarter-life crisis accurately describes where you're at, read on for five simple rules for getting through it better and stronger than before.
1. Do the thing that's uncomfortable
Scared to move? Do it. Sick of your dead-end relationship? End it. The best way to get out of a rut is to take risks and learn from them. Despite most of us being independent from our parents at this stage of life, being a 20-something still means playing with table stakes compared to where you'll be 10 years from now.
I moved to New York despite the fact that I was barely able to afford my apartment the first year. I wouldn't trade that experience of moving for anything. If life seems too monotonous and predictable, then changing things up may be exactly what you need.
2. Remember that what you see on social media is never as it appears
Don't live your life off someone else's highlights. Some of my friends are already living in big suburban houses or have a luxury skyline apartment looking over Chicago. That doesn't make my "flex" apartment any less adult. Everyone goes through ups and downs regardless of how great life appears on social media. If you need to, unplug or delete apps so you're no longer comparing your life to someone else's.
3. Commit to one new thing
There's no better way to prove that you have control over your life than committing to a new activity or hobby. Whether it's going to the gym, traveling somewhere new every month or taking a class, creating new habits will take you out of unhelpful patterns. For me, that was a weightlifting routine I've maintained for a little over a year now. By creating new habits, you'll prove to yourself that you have more say in what goes on in your life than you ever felt possible.
4. Find at least one mentor
Chances are that there's at least one person about five years older than you who has lived through what you're going through now. Lean on them for advice and perspective -- both are important when dealing with anxiety and uncertainty about where life will lead you. Along the way, I've picked up mentors from jobs, events and through other people. They've all been helpful to me, either on a personal or professional level.
I've gone through many seemingly catastrophic events in my 20s. Yet, in a matter of years if not months, they are nothing but a distant memory and lifelong lesson.