Being young is supposed to mean being bright-eyed, excited, and full of life and possibility. The whole world lies before us, right? Even so, sometimes we find ourselves feeling quite the opposite—lost, confused, worn-out, overwhelmed and oftentimes just wanting to crawl under the covers, plug in our colored twinkle lights, consume mug after mug of coffee and lock the bedroom door.
Twenty years old is much too young for a mid-life crisis, yet sometimes a crisis is exactly what this balancing act known as “growing up” feels like. We may be considered legal adults, but we still feel like we have so much to figure out. It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by tons of people on a daily basis, which is especially true in college—it’s still possible to feel lonely. That’s the plight of the “quarter-life crisis”.
Although the feelings associated with this sort of “crisis” aren’t always positive, the opportunity for growth that we’re provided with during this period of life is. So what if some days you wake up and decide that you need to go vegetarian and then have a cheeseburger for dinner? So what if you have no clue what you want or what you’re doing most days? Here’s a little secret: no one really does.
That being said, I’ve found that there are a few keys to navigating those confusing days/weeks/months/however long your bumps in the road persist. First, train yourself to think positively. A friend of mine recently told me that every time you allow yourself to fixate on a negative thought, it’s like swallowing a poisonous pill that affects your mind and body. Instead, swallow “positive pills” by taking your affirmations with your daily multivitamin and starting each day on a good note.
Another thing that can help with positive thoughts is to limit your social media consumption as much as possible. People usually only post about their high moments, leading us to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes seeing what “everyone else” is doing leads us to believe that we need to be on the same track or that we’re falling behind in the imaginary race.
While it’s okay to have a plan or a vision for how you’d like your life to turn out, the only way to get there is to be flexible. If you’re someone who likes to have control and to know the outcome of every little thing, a reality check might be necessary—that’s not how life works. It’s good to be wrong sometimes, to make mistakes, and to struggle, because that usually leads us to a better place, plan, and version of ourself.
My final piece of advice comes from my mother—be gentle with yourself. If you’re not kind and loving to yourself, who will be? It’s okay to focus on you. Don’t engage in negative self-talk, or internal battles with yourself and remember that sometimes you have to fill up your own cup before you can refill everyone else’s.
The quarter-life crisis can be frustrating. It can take a while to work through and there’s often no identifiable “issue” that sparks it, but there doesn’t need to be something tangibly wrong to make it matter. It’s a chance to reevaluate your life, redefine the parts of yourself that you want to, and to grow into a more whole version of yourself.