Navigating the quarter-life crisis: Challenges and tips for young adults

Sep 04, 2023 12:44 PM IST

Stepping into adulthood can trigger a 'quarter-life crisis.' Let's discover its challenges and strategies to navigate this transformative phase.

Have you thought about leaving your job, selling everything you own, and relocating abroad? Are you unhappy with your life? Do you feel trapped and unaware of how to get out? In that case, you might be experiencing a quarter-life crisis. The idea of experiencing a crisis in your mid-to-late 20s is not novel; young people have been experiencing it to varied degrees for many years. But in the digital age, when everyone is trying to show off their ideal lifestyle to the world, it can be all the more distressing.

Entering adulthood is often met with excitement and anticipation, but it can also bring about a profound sense of uncertainty and confusion.(Pixabay)
Entering adulthood is often met with excitement and anticipation, but it can also bring about a profound sense of uncertainty and confusion.(Pixabay)

The definition of quarter life, the age of 25 and the associated milestones. The social narrative puts pressure on this age to have it 'sorted'. You're supposed to be finished with your education, in a relationship and, ideally, have made that first big career move. But with changing times and challenging notions, the timelines of reality and societal ideation don't coincide, leaving young adults feeling disillusioned, worried and a little helpless. Parents give them instructions, but what they ask for is our direction. Education teaches them how to score well, but who teaches them how to live well? (Also read: Is your child mentally prepared for college life? Discover 10 essential tips to ensure a smooth transition )

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Challenges of a quarter-life crisis

Arushi Singh, Psychologists at MindPeers, Kanika Agarwal, Life Coach, CEO and Co-Founder, MindPeers and Namita Thapar, Entrepreneur & Executive Director at Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd shared with HT Lifestyle the challenges of quarter-life crisis and essential tips to navigate it.

1. Adjustment Concerns

One of the most common concerns we’ve seen in therapy amongst this age group is asking questions of their identity, their goals and finding their own voices amidst the larger social norms. MindPeers conducted research recently that surveyed over 72,500 young adults. It was observed that one in every three youngsters was going through adjustment concerns. Adjusting to financial pressures, living in a new city, finding connections in a right swipe and adjusting with vulnerabilities.

2. Imposter Syndrome

The youth of today constantly searching for what ‘defines’ them. The absence of this solid definition creates a gap in the sense of self and self-identity – leading to higher and more frequent cases of ‘Impostor Syndrome’. Impostor Syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy with a fear of being ‘exposed as a fraud’, despite contrary evidence. The most common type of impostors noticed within this group are ‘The Soloist’ & ‘The Expert.’

3. Financial Anxiety

Transition from relying on parents for finances to carrying out multiple expenses puts a lot of pressure alongside the popular influence of ‘hustle culture’. Either one feels the need to compromise on their lifestyle or time and emotional health. Consequently, the balance of finances comes into play. There is earning, managing, saving and investing - all of which do not come with a playbook.

4. Burnout

Up until 10 years ago, burnout was associated primarily with the working population, usually after 3-5 years of working life. Now, however, the onset of burnout is earlier, owing to extreme academic pressure, constant comparison with classmates and worldwide peers on the Internet and intrinsic motivation to excel in early settings. The competitive nature of growing is associated with lifestyle dysregulation, stress, anxiety, negative thinking loops and fear of failure. This combination is leading to frequent and faster episodes of burnout.

How to navigate quarter-life crisis ?

Psychologist Arushi Singh recommends: Therapy, counselling and psychoeducation.

Therapy helps to build a cohesive sense of self within us – whether it is via resolving a concern or enhancing the current quality of life. It helps strengthen personal agency, the ability to make decisions, take risks, and believe in oneself alongside prioritizing wellbeing.

Psychoeducation on the other hand helps with self-awareness. The age group of 16-25 undergoes the type of Impostor Syndrome where they need to have knowledge of almost everything going on around them. If they know what is happening, and why they’re feeling or behaving a certain way, it allows them to regain control of their lives and want to work towards it.

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