Before you know it, the topic of conversation shifts from “How are you adjusting to college?” to “What are your plans after graduation?” The time in between flies by and soon enough you’re no longer worrying about picking the dorm room you want, but instead, you’re considering prices of rent and locations of apartments. With adulthood at your doorstep, you feel weighed down by the insecurities that stem from confusing relationships, disappointments, the stress from not knowing what you may want to pursue and a moment of intense soul searching.
Reality settles in and the quarter-life crisis introduces itself to you.
The quarter-life crisis, commonly defined as the anxiety over the quality and destination of one’s life that commonly occurs in a person’s twenties to their early thirties. Psychologist Dr. Alex Fowke defines the quarter-life crisis as “a period of insecurity, doubt and disappointment surrounding your career, relationships and financial situation.” This happens when you enter adulthood and leaves the secure confines of college. The quarter-life crisis incorporates a mix of trying to discover yourself that gets fueled by economic factors such as the cost of living expenses and employment.
Although the quarter-life crisis does not have a cure, check out these 15 surefire ways to relieve the tension.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
You easily start doubting yourself when you hear about the fancy internships at Goldman Sachs that your fellow classmates received. Don’t even think about looking at the Instagram pages of alumni who live in lavish apartments in New York City. Do not compare the beginning of your journey to somebody’s middle. Although ignoring the success stories of your peers remains challenging, many students float in the same boat, trying to figure out their own future and struggling to solve where their passions connect with job opportunities. Yes, you do not live in New York working on Wall Street but maybe you don’t belong there. You may find something that aligns with your own personality and lifestyle — so no more comparing and no more Instagram stalking.
2. Don’t Fear Making a Drastic Change
Although changing your major may seem terrifying and overwhelming, studying a subject you feel no longer interested in is even more aggravating. Along those lines, waking up in ten years, wanting to change careers happens more often than we would expect. Majors and minors do not need to be binding, and there exists a chance that your passions take time to develop and come with a chance encounter. “I majored in Religious Studies in college and then years after realized that although I loved my courses and learned so much, it was something not applicable to my future,” Stetson graduate Caitlyn Turner said.“With a leap of faith and immense support, I enrolled in nursing school and will be graduating this December and I can’t wait to start working.” So, do not fear welcoming unease and change because a career does not have to be permanent.
3. Write Down a List of Goals You Want to Accomplish
Corny? Yes. But clarity arrives when you set goals that you want to work towards. It doesn’t require an extensive list, but knowing what to stay focused on brings a sense of relief into your daily routine and give you something to work on. Working towards one’s goals proves extremely motivating, whether you apply for jobs, and write and edit cover letters, or finish your senior thesis and group project.
4. Stay Organized
Along those lines, staying organized and maintaining control of your schedule remains vital. Working on assignments and staying proactive on projects decreases stress and subsequently allows you to focus your time and energy on other matters. Scrambling at the last minute, looking through the syllabus to see whether your midterm takes place tomorrow or next week does not inspire hope. So bring out the calendars, set some reminders and stay on top of your work. Set up notes on your computer and make sure to write down any scheduled calls or emails that need to be sent out.
5. Reach Out to Professors
Upperclassmen always say to reach out to professors and go to office hours. Not only must you maintain a strong relationship with your professors, but most importantly, professors provide copious amounts of experience and wisdom. They hold extreme knowledge in their subject matter so if class topics interest you, go to office hours and listen. Professors teach you not just about careers but more introspective elements of the subject, and quite possibly help you decipher what interests you most.
6. Seek Advice From Major Advisors
Advisors, like professors, hold a profound knowledge on the major you enrolled in and provide crucial tools in discovering internship opportunities, job fairs and possible presentations at your university. Attending events and gaining insight helps uncover new avenues of interest. Advisors love to help, so don’t shy away from asking your advisor to review your cover letter. “I felt lost in my major and felt very unsure if I wanted to continue studying Economics. I reached out to my advisor and he walked me through the classes I would be taking in the future, the possible careers I could have after graduation and I felt reassured and confident after just one conversation,” Loren Haukova, a junior at Boston College, said. “I always go back to him when I need a piece of advice or guidance in an application or class.” On a different note, advisors offer sage advice in helping you consider the best major and minor for you. If you sit down and talk to someone, their rationale presents a lot of interesting ideas on topics to study and impactful experiences to take part in.
Sitting and wishfully hoping that your passion, dream job or special someone must fall into your lap doesn’t assure you success. So you do not possess any idea of what you want to pursue. Great. Time to get on the computer and browse everything from possible graduate programs to companies that offer internships. The quarter-life crisis does not just revolve around employment worries. Do you feel nervous about living in a certain city? Go online and explore your options, you may come up with another idea or happily reinforce what you originally thought.
8. Reach Out to Friends
The quarter-life crisis revolves around the unease of the future regarding careers and financial stability, but it also considers the challenges one experiences socially. Take time to reach out to friends and plan a dinner or movie night. Take time to seek comfort from friends and quit hyper focusing on jobs for a moment. The best medicine for the stress of adulthood requires spending time with friends, who know you better than yourself and continue to support and guide you.
9. Network on LinkedIn
That fancy gadget everyone uses—use it! Although LinkedIn proves extremely stressful and overwhelming, it also serves as an important tool in connecting with individuals, discovering companies and showing off your own impressive resume. Networking remains crucial and connecting with new people and discovering new companies helps in any industry. Go on and start clicking that “connect” button, send some DMs and network like you became social chair of a fraternity mixer. Not actually, but don’t be afraid to socialize and start conversations first.
10. Stop considering the “Should haves”
Do not regret missing an opportunity and do not overthink everything. Let’s quit thinking about how we should have studied harder, should have applied to more internships and should have a better job by now. Stop beating yourself up for the tiny mistakes and oversights and know that every experience turns into a learning opportunity. Considering you read to reason ten, you clearly care about your future. This strong indicator shows you work hard for your future which will provide rewards.
You made it to reason eleven. Take a step back and relax. Take time for yourself and stop thinking about the incessant stress of the future. You don’t want to end up burning yourself out. Breathe. Do not forget the importance of taking care of yourself. Whether you watch movies all day or go for a walk and workout, be sure to take a day for self care and self reflection.
12. Take Time for Self Exploration
Every day we rush to class, involve ourselves in extracurriculars, study for job interviews and search for the scary “I” word (internships). Our plates our constantly full of activities and assignments that seem important, but truly give little value in growing oneself. On top of school, we balance relationships and friendships, constantly thinking about everything and everyone but ourselves. You need a moment for yourself. “A few events this past summer led me to the idea that I should take some time for myself and almost “disconnect” from the world. I decided to channel my energy into what I believe is important, meaningful, and adds value to my life. Disconnecting from social media, being around people I trust and care about taught me self love, showed me the people who have my best interest, and allowed me to reorder my priorities,” Boston College senior Kylie Wilcox said. With this in mind, take the weekend off and travel somewhere. Roadtrip with your friends to a neighboring state and explore something new. Or, take yourself out to dinner and do some introspective thinking. You learn the most about yourself when you reach out of your comfort zone, so go on and adventure.
Daydream. Consider those crazy ideas and that dream job you wish you could have. Think about what excites you most. Visualize your ideal self in ten or twenty years. Where do you want to live? Who do you want to look up to? Who do you want to go through the obstacles and successes with? Take these happy thoughts and channel them when you work and study. Daydreaming gives you the direction in which you want your life to travel in, so don’t shy away from your crazy hopes, because that can turn into a reality.
14. Put Yourself Out There
So you think about this crazy dream. Now go work for it. It doesn’t matter whether you aim to work as writer, accountant, photographer, wedding planner or doctor. Start writing, create that blog you always considered or start prepping for your MCAT. You now know to network and reach out for support and advice. Take it one step at a time. Yes, dreaming big frightens you and the idea of failing may lurk, but truth be told you won’t fail. If something doesn’t come together the way you expected, go back to the drawing board and start dreaming again. You make big changes now, the changes where your heart should skip a beat at how exciting the future can be.
15. Don’t Forget to Have Fun in The Moment
The twenties prevail as the life shaping decade, one that determines many aspects of your future from career to relationships and family. However, we need to remember that as humans we oftentimes overlook the importance of letting go and having fun in the moment. You only live through your twenties once, so embrace the confusion and heartache and go experience fun. The memories you make today will undoubtedly exist as the memories you look back in the future. Your future holds many years of sitting in an office to look forward to, but not as many years left to enjoy freedom with your friends, going to support your school sports teams and traveling.