It can be quite torturous to transition from adolescence to adulthood. When the time comes, like an unwilling snake shedding its skin, we find ourselves forced to shed the aura of invincibility we wore during the carefree period of our teens/early twenties as we enter the adult world of uncertainty, self-doubt and endless responsibilities. When I was younger, I saw my adolescence as a large ramp that would launch me into an epic and world-altering future filled with creative opportunities and excitement. The world was nothing if not my oyster and I was bound to conquer it in time. Now I often look at my life and wonder when exactly all of this awesomeness is finally going to kick into effect. Surely it should have taken place by now. The stress of coming to terms with the disillusionment that is typical of this transition period has led to the coining of the term ‘quarter-life crisis.’
What follows are 3 tips that can help you through your quarter-life crisis based on the lessons I’ve learned from dealing with mine.
1. Rediscover the Beauty in the Ordinary
I suppose all generations have had to deal with difficult transitions to adulthood in their own ways but ours was the generation that was told we were special and this has perhaps screwed with our minds and led to our dissatisfaction more than anything else. We grew up believing that the universe itself owed us magical lives and careers and that there is something inherently wrong with the simple and the mundane. The biggest lesson I have learned so far is to appreciate simplicity in my life and to be thankful for the mundane. Rather than pining after lofty goals of perfection I make an effort now to appreciate where I am and how far I have already come. I’m not saying that big dreams and ambition are overrated but I’ve learned not to let my dreams of achieving something legendary with my life block me from seeing the beauty in what I am already doing with my life, no matter how simple or ordinary it may be.
2. Ignore the Lie that is Social Media
Our generation is also the most connected generation ever and our addiction to social media provides new pressure on all of us to be established, successful and fulfilled twenty-somethings. Though we are smart (or cynical) enough to know that the rosy images of perfection we see on our five-inch phone screens are probably fake or embellished, we scroll through our friends profiles, resentful that what we see isn’t our reality. Learning not to compare one’s life to what we see on these screens is a key factor to conquering this quarter-life slump.
Social media is so toxic that in the rare cases where we actually do feel accomplished and perhaps a bit content with our lives, all it takes is one of twitter’s ‘goals’ hashtags to remind us about just how much more we need to be doing to achieve our #relationshipgoals or #fitnessgoals. We pursue these in a constant march towards an ideal we know isn’t real and we wonder why we are miserable. Sometimes we simply need to switch off our phones or at least learn to ignore these lies.
3. Talk about how things aren’t how you want them to be
The idea of trying to measure up to what we know is false is pretty ridiculous but it isn’t what is most absurd about all of this. What is even worse is how reluctant we are to simply admit our disenchantment and talk honestly about it. Instead we would rather continue to pretend that things are perfect in our lives by posting staged and heavily edited Instagram photos or lying to our friends at reunions. For a generation that prides itself in its authenticity we miss the mark terribly here. When was the last time you saw an honest Facebook status update about frustrated dreams, or an Instagram photo capturing the heartbreak of a breakup? Imagine for a second how different things could be if we were all this honest and our newsfeeds and timelines were venues where people could freely express their low moments as often as their highs. Not only would this cause the unnecessary pressure to be perfect to fade away but we would also be more likely to receive the much needed comfort and encouragement from friends and loved ones that can pull us out of this quarter-life crisis.
So friends if things aren’t how you imagined they would be at this point in your life, you aren’t alone. Most of us are just figuring this out as we go along. Acknowledge the disappointment you’re feeling but take a second to appreciate the beauty in the little things that are working for you. Don’t try to measure up to any unreal fantasies and most importantly don’t be afraid to talk about it.
I for one will be here to listen.