Immediately after graduating college, I moved to Los Angeles with the intention of entering the entertainment industry. By 25, I was working as a television literary agent for one of the most well-known companies in LA. I had my own office and assistant, along with other perks like an expense account and business cards. Not to mention, I dated frequently and went to many industry events. Although it may have looked like I had everything together, on the inside I was completely miserable.
Every day, I tried to convince myself that I liked my job. Even though I despised it,I thought I needed to stay because this was what expended so much effort pursuing. However, the fact that hating my job caused me constant migraines, messed up my hormone levels due to stress, and made me into someone intolerable became too much. To save me from a total meltdown, quitting was my only option.
I left my high-flying career to try and find something that would make me happier, but I only ended up feeling more lost. I became a personal trainer thinking that it might be my true calling, but after three years and nine different jobs, I was no closer to finding what I was looking for. So then I turned to relationships, fell in love, and got engaged—but six months before our wedding he called it all off. I was 28, my heart was broken, and I was in debt. My career lacked direction, I was physically sick, and my family thought I should just snap out of it. But what I realizes much later is that I was simply having a quarter-life crisis.
One day, while sprawled out on my bathroom floor, I had a moment of clarity where I realized I had two options: give up and go home, or take a good hard look at my life and figure out what I wanted. Instead of running away from failure, I started to understand that all the drama was caused by my chasing achievement and validation from others. And with that new perspective, came the possibility of something great.
If you’re wondering whether or not you might be experiencing a quarter-life crisis, here are some common symptoms:
• You feel like you are in a funk; nothing is terribly wrong, but nothing seems right either.
• You feel a lot of pressure and expectations to do, have or be something.
• You often feel unmotivated, directionless, or passionless.
• You don’t know what you want to do with your life or you know what you want to do, but can’t seem to make a living at it.
• You feel pressure to get your adult life in order and plan your future.
• You feel entitled to or long for a life much grander than the one you are living.
• You are stressed out by choices that will seemingly affect the rest of your life.
• You are dealing with disappointment or confusion because something did not turn out like you thought it would.
• A breakup, romantic relationship, or lack of one is causing suffering.
• You are living at home with mom and dad.
• You compare yourself to other people your age and feel like you don’t measure up.
• You feel financially unstable.
• Your self-esteem could use an upgrade.
• You constantly think about the future, resulting in anxiety.
• Your life is not at all turning out as you had planned.
If this sounds familiar to you, don’t stress. If you are going through a quarter-life crisis, this isn’t negative news. You may have mistakenly believed that by the time you reach your twenties, you’re expected to know exactly what you want to do with your life. However, this idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. You are actually experiencing a very common occurrence that many people never warn about.” And if you recognize that you’re going through it and you are willing to work to improve the situation, that’s even better news because it means our conscious and proactive. At times, it can feel disheartening to desire more than a life that just goes through the motions. Remember that this feeling is occurring so that you have a chance to grow and change for the better.
If you stop feeling the need to do, be, and have so much on the outside, and shift your focus inward instead, you’ll start to feel relief. Today, I invite you to begin this transformation by answering the question “Who Am I?” using this three-part exercise:
1. Who am I? This is a loaded question, and society tells us that we should have it all figured out by now. But the truth is, most of us don’t. And that’s okay! The point of this exercise is to just write whatever comes to mind without overthinking it or trying to get it “right.” Go with your gut feeling and trust yourself–attuning to your inner voice is key.
2. On a sheet of paper, brainstorm a list of your personal qualities and strengths.
3. Note everything you tend to criticize about yourself or see as a personal flaw.
Do not worry if you think you are experiencing a quarter-life crisis. If your life has felt well scripted up until this point, it is normal to feel lost now that you have reached a point where you must answer your own questions. Be confident in yourself–you ARE the expert and YOU know the answers. You will also be your biggest motivator; trust me on this or even better, trust yourself.
If you’re wondering what a quarter-life crisis is and how to deal with one, then join Life Coach Christine Hassler on her exclusive Google Hangout. She’ll be sharing why the quarter-life crisis is MANDATORY and more of her advice and wisdom on expectation hangovers.
More of our favorite articles by Christine Hassler:
20-something does not have to be 20-everything
The importance of finding your confidence
BONUS: Her #OfficeHours is also a must-watch