Adulting is hard.
It's crazy to think that when we were teenagers we actually wanted to be adults. I mean... What the hell were we thinking?
Back then, success had a formula. Go to class, pay attention, take notes, turn in assignments, make a few friends, and you were golden. That was it. We knew exactly what succeeding looked like, and had the direct path to get there. Plug and chug.
And then we graduated.
Why. Why did we do that. Just, why.
Now our formula is gone! There's no teacher looking over our shoulder making sure we understand how taxes and bills work. Our parents aren't there to remind us that "nothing good happens after midnight," even though deep down we know it's true. And our best friends aren't down the hall to talk us through it -- instead they're in their new city, trying to figure things out as well. We're adults now. We're supposed to make up our own formula. Create our own success. Otherwise known as: Fake it 'til you make it.
So, we go ahead and try to learn how to cook, pay bills, get up early every morning, hold ourselves accountable, exercise, hold down a job, save money, and maintain healthy social relations. All at the same time.
HOLY $&*# THAT IS A LOT.
But the point is, nobody deals with this transition perfectly. Not even close. At some point or another, between the time we graduate from school and the time we really feel like we have it all together, life kind of sucks. We feel inadequate, left behind, and totally lost. It's called the quarter-life crisis -- and it's very real.
So, how do you know if you're dealing with one of these boogers? Well, you could always take a quiz, or you can read this guide to figure it out.
Here we go.
1. You hate Sundays.
Ah, the "Sunday scaries." That itchy, antsy, uncomfy feeling you get when you realize tomorrow is Monday. Monday is not good. In fact, Monday is never good. Monday means you have to go to the job you hate. Or stay at home figuring out your next step while your friends go to work. Maybe it's the harsh reminder that the real world is calling your name, and you are desperately trying to ignore it. But whatever Monday brings, you do not like it one bit.
Typically, if we hate Sundays, it's not really because we have to get up early the following morning. I mean that sucks, don't get me wrong, but that's not really it. If we truly hate Sundays, it's because we have time to think about how the next five days are going to unfold. The weekends are great -- we get to escape the constant fear, anxiety, and nerves that adulting brings -- but Sunday reminds us that our responsibilities are still there. The quarter-life crisis is all about feeling unsatisfied with our current lives, but having no clue how to reach the next step -- and the dreaded Monday is its mascot.
If you totally hate Sundays for reasons other than the early morning alarm clock, it's time to face the real reason behind it. If you hate your job, it might be time to search for other opportunities. If you feel bored with the work week, it's time to take on new projects. But find time to really concentrate on what's bothering you, and you're one step closer to curing the Sunday scaries.
2. Visualizing the future is difficult.
Where do you see yourself next week? What about six weeks from now? Six months from now? Two years from now? Can you be specific? Really dive into what you visualize for yourself. Describe your job, your relationship, your living situation, your trajectory.
It can be really hard sometimes -- especially when you have no idea which direction you'd like to pursue.
Humans naturally like forward progression. We like to know we are going somewhere. It doesn't matter if you're a planner or not -- we ALL feel better when we have some sort of clue as to what our lives will hopefully look like in the future. That's why we save money. That's why we wear sunscreen. That's why we eat healthy (or try to). We like thinking forward -- we like wondering what will make us happy later on in life. So if we feel like we aren't going anywhere, well, that can be a mood killer. And a major side effect of the quarter-life crisis.
Pro tip: Spend some time brainstorming what it is you would like to do in the future. There are no bad ideas -- just opportunities. Write them all down. Now, as you review your list, try to identify some patterns. Can you group some ideas together under one category? Awesome! Now see which groups have the longer list.
So... What's the point of this? Well, the more your dreams feel connected, the more direction you'll have. The biggest category on your list holds the biggest clue for your next step.
3. You feel like time is against you.
Everyone has that moment in time -- that scary realization that they have reached the age where they thought they would have their lives figured out.
It's truly frightening.
All of a sudden, time is a big deal. Before, it felt like time couldn't pass us by faster! We wanted to drive. We wanted to vote. We wanted to drink. And after all of that... we still had some years left to experiment in a socially acceptable way.
But then... 25 hits. 28 hits. 32 hits. 35 hits.
Whatever your number is -- it's arrived, and flying by rather quickly. And all of a sudden, this anxiety about being "old" attacks with full force. You feel like you are actually running OUT of time, instead of having too much of it. And the panic starts to set in.
Breathe. You might be behind schedule in your eyes, but I promise, you still have time to figure everything out. You're young. You're resilient. And you aren't going to let some quarter-life crisis have your lunch.
Simply keep in mind that these years are not "throwaway" years -- they are years that help set up the foundation for the rest of your life. So, the more lessons you can extract, the better you'll feel about moving forward.
4. You "should" yourself.
Here's the drill: when we freak out about getting older, anxiety ensues. And when we feel anxiety, without question the should-ing begins.
I should have a boyfriend.
I should have more money.
I should have a better title.
I should be happier.
It's cruel, really. We had this imaginary life planned in our head when we were 16, and for some reason we just can't let it go when 26 rolls around. Where is our fairy tale life?! Where are the money and the love and the accomplishments we swore we would have by now?
Honestly, our decade-old expectations probably weren't even realistic. And more than likely, we didn't have concrete goals set in place to reach them. But either way, we can't stop beating ourselves up over it. And it SUCKS.
This constant bully we have in our minds won't let up, and it's taking its toll. Life is hard enough with impossible standards and sky-high expectations, so let's not encourage it from within. It's time to crack down on the should-ing and embrace the accepting.
At this moment, please write out everything in YOUR life that you are proud of. Everything. Big, small, silly, surprising, whatever. Write it down. Now look.
Wow. You have accomplished WAY more than you thought you had. For sure. Because right now you feel like you've accomplished nothing, but something is down on that list. Chin up, girl. You're going to be just fine.
5. You get Facebook anxiety.
Facebook used to be fun, right? We posted pictures about what we did on the weekends, wrote on each other's walls and commented on funny articles. But now Facebook is just a big fat picture of what we're missing out on.
Everyone is engaged. Or married. Or pregnant. And while you are happy for them, you're also wondering when the hell things will start happening for you. Social media has become a place where you confirm your own self-doubt and insecurities -- not a place of mutual sharing and excitement. We look forward to the day when we can go online and share our own accomplishments -- but for some reason nothing seems good enough to post.
But... that's not entirely true. A lot is going on in your life right now -- you're just struggling with how to communicate about it. And you know what? Social media probably isn't the safest place anyway.
Just remember that perception is HARDLY ever reality -- and to keep focusing on yourself.
6. You want to make a big change.
Enough is enough. You're over it. You're tired of feeling sorry for yourself, you're tired of feeling left behind, and you're tired of not having any answers. The problem is -- you're not exactly sure what to change, or how to change it. It's really hard!! Quitting your job is scary. Meeting someone new is intimidating. Saving money can seem impossible. But something MUST give, because you can't stand this funk for much longer.
Luckily, change isn't hard when you make the decision to try. You're already reading this article, so you are taking a step forward. Yay! Keep reading. Start talking. Find a support system. Grab a counselor or coach. Reach out. Remember that you are not even CLOSE to being the only one feeling this way. There are plenty of people out there just like you who are trying to make sense of this quarter-life crisis as well. The only difference is, YOU are making an effort, starting today, to weasel your way out of it.
You've got this!
If you'd like to learn more tips and tricks for dealing with the quarter-life crisis, you can grab a free ebook here! It's full of more stuff just like this article to help you push through. Afterwards, you should totally say hi to me and my fabulous girl squad. We do online life coaching and blogging and social media things. Come hang, we'd love to meet you!