The rise of the quarter-life crisis

In my last blog, I wrote about the concept of a mid-life crisis, and how this is a real phenomenon that comes out of a process called ‘individuation’. In this blog, I want to think about another life stage crisis that has been gaining headlines over the past couple of years, and that is the Quarter-Life Crisis.

Quarter-life crisis

Recent research from LinkedIn has pointed to the idea of a ‘quarter-life crisis’, as increasing numbers of people in their late 20s to 30s report feelings of anxiety about their life direction. In this research, it appears to be mainly manifest in issues with finding the right career, or frustrations with working life.

Part of this could be down to the way that the world of employment works in the 21 st century. Now that there is no such thing as a job for life, and zero-hours contracts are standard, the freedom to reinvent ourselves can become almost like a pressure to do so. Equally, many people jump into work for financial or practical reasons in their 20s and then realize a decade later that this type of work is not truly fulfilling. We now have the option and the capacity to make changes, and more of us are choosing to do so.

Work can be something that gives us our identity, and that defines who we are. Think about when we meet someone for the first time, we often ask each other what we do for a living as one of the main ways of getting to know someone. So what happens if you don’t like your job, or even if you are struggling to get employment? It can be a very anxious and unsettling feeling if we don’t have that stable source of identity.

Another issue might be that we took on employment expecting to gain financial stability as an adult, only to find that low income and job insecurity mean that traditional outcomes such as buying a home are still way out of our reach. This in turn often means that other ‘adult goals’ such as getting married and having a family are also pushed further away. Work is then not only unfulfilling, but it does not serve the intended purpose of helping us to achieve our other aims.

Living your best life

I also think that the pressures of life at this age are potentially more pronounced than they were in previous decades. Nowadays, we are invited to compare ourselves against all of our peers on a constant basis thanks to social media, and it’s no wonder that we will feel unfilled seeing others’ posts about how they are successfully ‘living their best lives’, while we are stuck at our office desk in a job that feels unfulfilling.

If you are experiencing those feelings of being unfulfilled and anxious, and unsure of what direction your life should go in, you could take a look at one of my previous blogs on the Meaning of Life, for some ideas on finding your own life values. ‘Living your best life’ should not be a pressure to achieve more than your peers, but an invitation to understand the things that are important to you and create space for them in your life. Each of us can find what it is that gives us life satisfaction as individuals, and it may not be about work or material things.

Counselling can help you to explore what it is that really matters to you, and consider your options for making positive steps towards achieving those dreams. Through self-awareness, and taking the time to understand what you want, you can understand what drives you and what is really important in your life.

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