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The Quarter-Life Crisis: A Growing Epidemic

We’ve all heard of the infamous “mid-life crisis” that people reach in their later years…but what about the quarter-life crisis? Believe it or not, the quarter-life crisis is a real thing; and if you’re in your 20’s and constantly feeling confused about your future and are easily overwhelmed, chances are you’re experiencing it.

Whether you’re studying in your undergrad, fresh out of college, or have been in the workforce for a couple of years, many of us in our 20’s are going through the struggles of transitioning into adulthood and worrying about “the next step.” The questions we get at family get-togethers like “Do you have a job yet?” or “What do you want to do with your life?” always haunt us. How are we expected to give an answer to others when WE don’t know what we’re doing?

This, in its most basic form, is the “quarter-life crisis.” For many of us, the world after school or when we leave our parents is a lot bigger and scarier than we could have imagined, not to mention it's more daunting than previous generations. It’s difficult learning how to be an independent adult while having to live up to social media’s ideals of what our life “should” look like. Couple that with a bunch of fluid definitions - from peers and parents - of what it means to be “successful” in the modern age, and the "quarter-life crisis" seems unavoidable.

For Millennials, the quarter-life crisis also comes into play in terms of lifestyle. Compared to previous generations, rent has become more expensive and job fields are more competitive than ever. For young adults, it’s much harder to settle into a stable career that can both pay your bills and fulfill your passion. In addition, with the focus and pressure on trying to make a living marriage, long term relationships for Millennials tend to be an afterthought. It's been proven numerously that people are getting married much later than people from previous generations did. This is especially true with the advent of social media and it creating a “disposable” culture where “hooking up” has become the new norm in the dating world. With the emergence of apps like Tinder and Bumble, it’s easier for people to meet and chat. This poses a problem for many young people when others are less likely to settle down and commit - opting to date freely. I like to believe that most people would like to settle down and commit to start a family one day; but with the current shifts, that seems like almost another lifetime away.

The effects of the quarter-life crisis are monumental, with one of the big repercussions being the rise of mental illness. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety, this has affected my everyday life. While there are dark days, reflecting on the “quarter-life crisis” reminds me that I’m not alone and that many other people are going through similar challenges. Through my conversations with others who suffer from the same and different illnesses, I’ve learned that no matter how well-put and together someone seems, everyone is going through their own version of a “quarter-life crisis,” so you’re not alone. Mental illness is a huge stigma despite many efforts to raise awareness on the topic, and studies have shown that millennials are in the most danger of being affected due to the stress and transitions of growing up into adulthood.

With this article, I want everyone to know that it’s okay if you haven’t settled into your dream career yet, or if you decided to stay in school longer than others. It’s okay if you’re single and not looking to settle down with someone anytime soon. Acknowledge that your path is different, so it’s okay if you’re not doing what other people are doing. It’s okay if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing right now. It’s all part of the learning process and I want everyone to know that you’re not alone, even when you’re feeling lost and confused in such a big world. Nothing will ruin your twenties more than thinking you should have your life together already.

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