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Looking Beyond the Quarter-life Crisis

Millennials. Are you having a quarter-life crisis?

We've all been there haven't we? Felt the extreme pressure from significant others about what you're doing now or what you're doing with you're life. Don't worry you're not alone.


This experience typically occurs between early twenties and mid thirties, where an individual experiences anxiety and uncertainty over the quality and direction of their life. I just want to reiterate that this is normal. You are not alone, you're going through a transient period of your life.

This affects 86% of millennial's, who report being being bogged down by insecurities, disappointment, loneliness and depression.

So how do you know you're in a quarter life crisis?

The quarter-life crisis can manifest itself in you in many different ways. Lets have a look at some signs that you can look out for, or that you can relate to...

  • You start to question your purpose in life.

  • You get frustrated at not being able to figure out the answers.

  • Scared at the fact that the best years of your life are behind you and you haven't done anything with your life.

  • Social media makes you feel anxious and you get freaked out every time you see someone get engaged or someone announces they're having a baby.

  • Torn between wanting to be a proper grown up and wanting to be looked after by your parents forever. More than a fifth of 25- to 29-year-olds live with their parents, compared to 17% in 1996.

  • Feeling a sense of panic, anxiety and failure.

  • Pressure to find a career that could define you for the next 50 years.

  • Feel the need to escape.

  • Torn between I really need to see the world and damn I need to climb the career ladder and work harder.

  • Offended when you're asked for ID but even more so when you're not.

  • Buying yourself an expensive handbag or gadget to appear like you've got your s*** together.

  • You don't know whether to be dating and having fun or trying to find the one.

  • Lack of confidence and increased insecurities.

  • That temp job has lasted a fair few years and you struggle to find meaningful employment.

  • Realising that some of your friends are working in higher paid jobs for the rest of your life and the gap between incomes is only going to widen.

AND you HATE the question: So what are you doing with your life?

If you just suffer from one, or all of them signs, you may feel like those are stacked against you right now. At times, you may feel like you want to run away, start over, bury or distract yourself. I remember comparing myself to younger celebrities and thinking 'Wowwwwww! They're achieving that, at that age, what am I doing wrong?!'. This was clearly a big mistake to make but nevertheless, the thought crossed my mind a fair few times.

So, have you tried to talk to your parents/guardians about it? Great if they get it and support you, but mostly, they don't understand these insecurities you're going through. How many times have you heard, 'Don't worry, you've got your whole life ahead of you.' Makes you worry even more right?

More recently I've seen a lot more 'F*** it' and 'YOLO' (You only live once) mentalities. The more stressed and lost you feel, the more you feel the need to look for an escape. That can be from simply buying that piece of clothing, moving into a flat you can't afford, going travelling for god knows how long, or turning to alcohol or drugs. Millennials are now spending almost a quarter of their income on housing, three times more than the pre-war generation, who are now aged 70 and over.

How to Power Through!

  1. Seek out solidarity. Start talking to your friends, people you trust and professionals (counsellor, career advisors or life coach).

  2. If it's starting to affect your physical or mental health please see your local GP.

  3. Stop trying to please others! Work on that self-care and love.

  4. Work that side-hustle. Get up early to write your blog, have the second job, volunteer etc.

  5. Uncover your identity by trying new things.

  6. Don't let your degree define you.

  7. A good exercise to help you explore your own life is to get a pen and paper and divide your life into sections. Career, friends, family, partner, fun, health etc. You can include bits that you like, don't like. Include advice, 'What would my best friend/grandma tell me to do'. Also determine your level of satisfaction with each one.

  8. Take things one step at a time. Don't rush. Lives can move at different paces and can lead to unhelpful comparisons.

It is important to accept your life how it is NOW, even if it's not where you want to be yet.

The change that occurs after this crisis, is one where we also acquire a set of skills. You learn to master and regulate your emotions. As we age, we put things into perspective, able to believe in ourselves more and the emotions we were once scared off, they don't have to consume you now. Psychological ageing is a positive process in which older equals better.


*If your struggling with anything that was mentioned in this blog, please get in touch to make an appointment with me, where we can discuss it further.


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Francesca Parry BSc, MA