This summer is flying by, and with it passes a whole season of weddings and birthdays. With this fast flight into September, I have heard a lot of buzz from family, friends, and clients questioning where they are in their lives in comparison to their peers.
Here are a few common thoughts I hear:
“______ is getting married and I’m not.”
“_____ is so excited about his/her/their promotion but I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.”
“How can I succeed in my job when it makes me feel so miserable?”
You are not alone in this! Research has found that the majority of individuals aged 25-35 report suffering from a quarter-life crisis. This number appears to cluster around 30 years of age, which reflects millennials reported desires to succeed relationally, financially, and within the workplace before age 30. I expect this anxious peak at age 30 reflects a body clock anxiety, pressuring female-bodied individuals to settle down and start having children. Rather than living in the moment, and accepting your reality, it is sometimes easier to have spiraling thoughts about your future because you’re right, the unknown future is scary. However, it can be scary AND exciting.
This roughly 10 year stretch of the quarter-life crisis can be a reflection of stress, social pressure, and distress but it can also be an exciting time for personal growth, openness, and self-reflection.
Take a breath and accept. Everyone’s trajectory of life is different and just because your friend is getting married at 25 or another friend has 3 kids by 35 doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong. Acknowledge where you are and accept it as okay. Be mindful of your experience, thoughts, and emotions and try not to judge yourself for having doubts/concerns.
Reflect. Be curious. What is it that you wish you were doing? When you look around and start to compare, what is it that you are comparing? Body image? Relationship quality? Frequency of sex? Financial security? Whatever it is, sit back and reflect on what you want to be different. Notice what comes up for you.
Identify your goals/write them down. This part might be scary to think about but it is worth it. When you know what you are working towards and have detailed steps on how to get there, you are more likely to achieve this goal. Writing down goals biologically impacts one’s ability to vividly remember goals and recall them at a later time. When you write down your goals, this information leads to the encoding process and stimulates long-term memory, therefore letting you recall your goals regularly and use them as motivation to succeed. Looking into the future and identifying steps on how to achieve your goals make the goals look more attainable and less daunting.
Pressures, doubts, and concerns can be scary to accept and acknowledge. In today’s society, we are constantly reminded of what people appear to be doing on social media, which can heighten one’s sense of unease. Instead of letting the quarter-life crisis take over and cause self-doubt, pity, and distress, use this time to reflect and set goals for the future. Of course, it is scary, but this time is also exciting. Meeting new people, learning about your work ethic, your preferences, and finding a sense of deeper identity is life-changing and fulfilling. Take a step back, reflect and accept where you are in the present moment, then break down your goals into motivating and attainable stepping stones.