10 Tips for Surviving a Quarter-life Crisis

Remember the Golden Era? Yeah, you know which one I am talking about… the ‘Television Era’. Pre-2007, before Netflix began streaming. Remember how easy it was to decide what to watch?


Let me take you back for a second: you are home alone, the remote clasped tightly in your hand, instinctively protecting it from being torn away. You can finally watch whatever you want. Absolutely anything at all… of all 27 channels you have. You flip through them all, twice just to be sure. Two things peak your interest Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds. You pick Criminal Minds (obviously). Your choice was easy. You make popcorn, you have a great night.

In mere minutes you weighed your two options and decided what you wanted to watch. There was no issue. Fast-forward now to the present; the ‘Netflix Era’. There are countless streaming sites, with thousands of shows and movies. How will you ever choose? There is just simply too much. The horror!

Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but I am avidly convinced that as a general rule people get overwhelmed by too many options. In 2017 we spend hours browsing various streaming sites just for one half hour of TV show satisfaction. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and frankly just makes people want to give up.

The transition from childhood to adulthood is basically the same. As a child you have limited options. These options may be limited by your parents, your peers, your location, your family’s finances and so many other variables. As kids and young adults we make the best choices we can with all of those limitations. But really when it comes down to it, you only have 27 channels.

Then something incredible happens and we get that first job, that certificate, that degree, or that first apartment. And at first, it is the most fabulous thing in the world. But then our tiny, limited world suddenly gets cracked open and we enter the ‘Netflix Era’ – Adulthood. The ‘Netflix Era’ is, at first glance amazing. There are so many options, there is so much wonder, so much potential… and then it all becomes so overwhelming. What shall I choose? Do I really want to go to med school? Should I get a puppy? Why is everyone else doing so well? Do I even want kids? Did I pick the right career? Am I happy? And oops, rent is due.

Enter: the dreaded quarter-life crisis.

According to LinkedIn research 75% of 25-33 years olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis. So, for anyone denying the existence of quarter-life crises, you just wait because it will come. Personally, my quarter life crisis started about a year ago. Now, mind you, this is a QUARTER-life crisis. It’s a lot milder than a mid-life crisis. So no, it did not consist of me buying a new corvette or quitting my job on an impulse. It was still tough though.

For those of you who have not experienced a quarter-life crisis (yet) here is what it looked like for me:

  • Impulse dropping quite a few dollar bills on a college course I was not ready for
  • Consistent existential dread
  • Deciding I wanted to become ‘Instagram famous’ (and somewhat executing on it)
  • Flipping between the #fitlife #fitfam and laying on my couch for hours and binge watching Scandal
  • Questioning every single life choice I have made since the day I was born
  • Freaking out about not knowing where my life is going (tip: no one does by the way, at least not with 100% certainty)
  • Seriously considering just moving to the arctic

But I made it through! Ish. I made it through, ish. I wouldn’t say I have moved completely past it, but I am definitely out of the thick of it and this is what I have learned:

My Ten Tips for Surviving Your Quarter-life Crisis:

  • Love yourself, your friends, and your family. Lean on them for help and advice because you will need it.
  • Use social media, don’t let it use you. Rule of thumb: if you are on social media and seeing everyone else’s success and happiness is making you feel miserable about your own life, social media is using you. Shut it down. If you are using social media to communicate and share experiences with friends and colleagues, you are using it. Keep it up.
  • Practice deep breathing. Lucky for me (ha!) a few years pre-quarter-life crisis I suffered from some pretty rough panic attacks. Those relaxation techniques really came in handy for those tougher crisis days.
  • If you are about to spend a large sum of money sit on it for at least a day. When people feel overwhelmed they can make rash decisions. If one of those rash decisions is a large unplanned purchase, take at least a day.
  • Give yourself nice things. You work hard, treat yourself a little. And remember, nice things don’t have to cost you anything. Your ‘nice thing’ can simple be a relaxing night in.
  • Sample some of the options you are considering. Thinking of upheaving your life and moving halfway across the globe? Visit first. Change is great, and at almost any other time in your life, I’d say go for it! But quarter-life crises might trick you into wanting things you really don’t just because you feel trapped or overwhelmed in that particular moment. Make big decisions carefully.
  • Remember who you are. You can get lost sometimes.
  • Work out. However you can. It helps with stress relief and providing clarity.
  • Actually make decisions. I subconsciously put off all decision making. It’s a personality flaw I am well aware of, and am working on. But there is power associated with actually making a choice, relieving yourself of that stress, and following the decision with action. Actions propel you forward (and out) of your crisis.
  • Follow through on your decisions. And if you find out along the way that you don’t like your choice, change it. There are plenty of options.

Adulthood is like Netflix. It’s wonderful and overwhelming, which can cause panic. But the panic subsides and you can eventually pick a show to watch and a purposeful life to live.

Because really, who would want to go back to 27 channels?

Have your own tips? Share them in the comments below.


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