The quarter life crisis is a phase in life that has not been as widely studied and commented about as its elder compatriot, the midlife crisis. It is a however just as real and just as important. While it may not be so noticeable to the casual observer, (because you don’t suddenly get a girlfriend 30 years younger than you, or buy a 2 seater sports car much to your children’s surprise,) it is something that may drive the young adult to make life altering decisions that may not be easily reversible.
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While the midlife crisis is about facing one’s mortality as the greater part of life draws to an end, the quarter life crisis is about looking into the vast new world and probably being overwhelmed. It is about setting sail into the unknown, in search of what the future holds in store. It is a different type of crisis because whereas the elderly cling to the past that is quickly slipping away, the young adult is eager to jump into the next stage of life and make big things happen. Much like jumping off the plank of a pirate ship to swim with the sharks even before the peg legged captain has a chance to poke you in the back with his sword. This is the time big dreams are ready to be made into reality, and the pressure can get to you. It’s the time to start building new careers after what seems like an entire lifetime of preparation. Long term relationships also become a reality, especially when some of your friends start getting engaged, married, even having little kids of their own. All this pressure can get to you though. Sometimes you may feel like you’re being left behind by the life train, or you may feel like your career life is not taking off as fast as you’d hoped it would. Don’t panic though! It may seem like everything is going wrong for you or you took the wrong direction, but the beauty is that you haven’t gone too far. You can always make some adjustments and set your ship straight.
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The most important thing is to see this period for what it is; a transition. It’s not meant to be a great leap forward, but a series of small steps. Like walking into a dark room and probing softly with your foot so that you don’t bang your toe onto unsuspecting furniture. Once you take your time to find the light switch, you can move on more assuredly in the light. Transitions take time, so be sure to take some yourself and weigh your options. Do what you want without feeling like you’re taking part in a race that you have to win. That just might lead you to regret your eager actions once your midlife crisis hits… but we’ll talk about that in two decades or so.