You’ve probably never heard of a quarter-life crisis. Maybe a mid-life crisis, or a mid-semester crisis, but what struggles do we really face in the first quarter of our life?
Good question: several.
If you haven’t caught the drift, our 20s are defined as the most important first part of our lives. Most 20-year-olds are working long nights (and days) to earn that diploma, trying to look for a job or just trying to establish themselves. We’re at a time in our lives where we’re forced to figure everything out so you’re bound to experience a crisis. Here are a few signs you might be in a quarter-life crisis, and what to do about it.
You lack motivation.
Maybe you used to be this Gatorade-powered weightlifter or a passionate ARC tutor, but all of a sudden you stop. You don’t make time to study anymore. You don’t feel energized going to the gym. You probably have even considered dropping out of school altogether. The fact that school is almost over scares you—so much so that you’re paralyzed in fear and in motivation.
WHAT TO DO: Discipline yourself.
Motivation will always be a wishy-washy thing. Discipline is much more effective for most. Cracking down on yourself and keeping yourself accountable makes things become more of a habit. So it doesn’t matter if you feel motivated to do something or not. You’re going to do it because you’ve been doing it forever.
But if you’re looking for a solution that doesn’t involve so much self-discipline, try creating a vision board. Grab a poster and a few magazines and cut out everything that inspires you. Then, paste it on the board any way you’d like. You can even invite a couple of friends and have them create their own vision boards with you. Once you’re done, hang the board up right over your workspace or somewhere you will see it.
Are you more of a digital person? Pinterest is also a great platform to find motivational and inspirational quotes. It’s the only social media network that also doubles as a search engine, so you can save images (called pins) to your account.
You sleep to avoid problems.
Been there, done that! Naps are a great strategy for shutting down your brain if you’re thinking too much. But there is such a thing as sleeping too much. If you slip into a nap every time life gets stressful, and you don’t address the problem, you’re digging a deeper hole for yourself. The problems don’t go anywhere when you sleep, and in fact, you just might exacerbate them.
WHAT TO DO: Take naps only when you feel groggy and overworked.
According to SleepFoundation.org, a quick 20-30-minute nap helps boost alertness, mood and overall performance. So along the lines of discipline, make sure to limit your naps and work through your problems instead.
Even with all the friendly faces you see every day at Mercer, you have this internal feeling of loneliness. You believe there’s not many people you can confide in because everyone is busy and dealing with their own problems.
WHAT TO DO: Talk to your favorite professor.
Professors don’t have to be the people you see only in a class setting. Believe it or not, but professors do want the best for you. And they often make the best mentors. If you feel a little alone some days, stop by your favorite professor’s office during office hours and chat with him/her. Get to know them a little bit better on a personal level.
You have absolutely no idea what you want to do with your life.
I’m about to spill ground-breaking, non-peer-reviewed quick facts: You don’t have to have your life together in your 20s. You don’t have to have your life together in your 20s. You don’t have to have your life together in your 20s.
You’re ONLY in your 20s. Do you really think anyone is going to know what they want to do with their entire life? That’s like asking a kindergartener what college he/she wants to go to. I’m positive there are kindergarteners that know about college, but the majority of them are too busy coloring or learning the alphabet to care.
WHAT TO DO: Stop Worrying
Stop worrying about what others are doing or have done. Really. You might get constant reminders about how “easy” it was for your mom and pop to move out at 18 and start their lives and how they didn’t need all the extra help it feels like you could use right now.
Well, newsflash: you parents were born in a less-difficult America. You didn’t always need a degree. Rent wasn’t as expensive. Heck, COLLEGE wasn’t as expensive.
Times are a lot harder for us; we’re not supposed to have it all figured out.
I found this quote on Pinterest (because I also have been suffering from a quarter-life crisis): “Nothing will ruin your 20s more than thinking you have to have your life together.” And isn’t that the truth?
The fact of the matter is, you’re going to be broke. You’re going to feel lonely. You’re going to go through several jobs before you get to your career. You’re going to get jealous of others.
But what you’re also going to do is figure things out. You’ll discover what works best for you. You’ll find your people. You’ll put in the work to make your life incredible. This too shall pass.