How To Survive A Modern Mid-Twenties Crisis

You know what they don't teach you at school? How to get through a f*cking quarter-life crisis in your twenties. So many years of education and nobody taught us how to survive our self-doubt, feelings of entrapment and anxious thoughts. Basically, part of real life, right?

As a twenties something girl, I can assure you right now that the struggle is real for our generation. It’s a confusing time for all. Many trials and tribulations within our minds, confused identity, misguided paths and life transitions that can make us feel lost, anxious and worried.

But some would say, the struggle is just a part of life, right? The struggle is supposed to be good for us because it makes us who we are. As we crawl closer to our thirties, there’s this realization that we’re in the most defining decade of our lives. Our identities have never been so sure, but so complex.

We are soul searching but self-destructing.

We want love, but we’re afraid of commitment.

We want dream jobs, but we’re impatient.

We run as far away as possible from responsibilities, but we want to be taken seriously.

We question whether we’re on the right path, yet we’re misguided by our own beliefs.

We’re all a little lost.

But guess what? You are not alone. 

Adulting is hard, and I’ve definitely had my fair share of doubts. But in hope of finding ways to overcome a mid-twenties crisis, along with my experiences over the past few years, I decided to pick up a book written by a clinical psychologist, Meg Jay, which highlighted why our twenties matter and how to make the most of them. Here’s how you can too, survive a quarter-life crisis.

“Our 20s are the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life's most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life. Female fertility peaks at 28. The brain caps off its last major growth spurt."

#1: PURSUE THINGS THAT INTEREST YOU – JUST MAKE A CHOICE IN SOMETHING. DO SOMETHING.

Having micro-ambitious goals are the key to surviving your 20s. With some forward planning and a rough idea of what you’re interested in, you will find that making a decision and just getting on with it, is much better than doing absolutely nothing. Yes, it’s absolutely fine to work in mediocre jobs and run away from ‘adulthood’, but how sustainable is this lifestyle? How much does this idea of ‘running away’ actually help us in the long run?

Once you finish your University degree, it’s much easier for you to be adaptable and consider careers in areas you might not have thought of before. The key is to try different things, no matter how badly you f*ck up along the way. Get busy living through your mid-twenties crisis. Find what it is that you are passionate about and then go and do something about it.

"When it comes to adult development, 30 is not the new 20. Even if you do nothing, not making choices is a choice all the same. Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do.” ― Meg Jay

#2: USE THIS TIME TO WORK ON YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 

Often we think it’s our surroundings that are creating this wave of negative energy, but according to Lifehacker, emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy and social skills) are the key attributes we need to develop. This practice comes from within, so instead of losing control of our emotions, we should instead look to regulating how we feel by becoming more self-aware. You can do this by starting a journal or practicing meditation and mindfulness.

#3: STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. THE NEWSFEED IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

Take it from someone who makes a living off social media marketing, I have been sucked into the wild world of the internet and rest assured, it’s a dangerous place if you don’t know how to self-manage. I’ve also realised that the more we compare our hopes and dreams with our reality, the more we question the direction we’re going in life. Comparison really is the thief of joy.

As we gradually surpass our mid-twenties, for the first time we’ll begin to notice that it’s much more normal to see friends of ours become first time home-owners, be deeply in love, get married and have babies. For the other fraction, we may not be anywhere near this stage. As a result, people can feel waves of disappointment or frustration at their situation. This constant comparison between ourselves and the lives of others can elicit feelings of envy and distorted perceptions. Research has even proven that heavy Facebook and social media usage links to depression. So stop worrying about what others are doing and focus on your own life per se – work on your own grass instead of living vicariously through others.

#4: TRUST IN YOUR COMPLICATED BREAK-UPS

Perhaps as a result of your mid-twenties crisis, this has led to your new found singleness. But what if we told you, it’s not the end of the world. There is no better time to be selfish than in your twenties. If anything, you will learn more about yourself in the process and know exactly what you want out of future relationships. This is a time to define yourself, don’t waste it by wallowing over your ex or the past.

#5: SLOW THE F*CK DOWN

slow down

Are you someone who runs a million miles an hour, only to reach a serious case of burn out at the end of the road? Yep, you’re not alone. We live in a culture that is driven by the need to constantly be doing something. We are always “switched on”, frantically wanting to do more than our minds can handle. So our advice is to slow down and make way for down time. Take solace in the fact that it’s OK to not be constantly moving. You want to binge watch netflix and chill all weekend? Do it. If taking flight and travelling is the best way for you to switch off and slow down, don’t let anyone stop you. Because the truth is, you don’t need to know what you’ve gottta do for the rest of your life. Stop panicking, stop freaking out that you’re not going to find your other half, get a good job, buy a house or travel because guess what? Most people that were SO SURE of their career path at 20 are probably having a mid-life crisis right now.

#6: CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION OF TIME

Let’s look at a cliche dilemma someone in their twenties might have: “Do I stay in my mediocre job or should I travel off-the beaten path through South America?” This short-scale thinking of immediately wanting something leads to our constant anxiousness. According to a life coach, Natalie Dee, we need to change our concept of time and “plan longer term”, meaning we shouldn’t be so hung up if we can’t immediately get that promotion at work or take that 3 months vacation to travel across Europe. There are more years ahead, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to reach your goal straight away.

The real trick to getting out of a mid-life crisis is to simply stop stressing. Start doing just about anything to get out of your rut because nothing in this world is permanent – not even feelings. Don’t live in the past or the future and start living in the present moment and you’ll notice that things really aren’t all that bad. 

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  • Valeria Arme

    Thank you so much for this article! It really states some important points.

  • Frank Guo

    great points! personally i’m not a fan of meg jay’s book and some of her ideas; really wanted to like it but it ignores broader socioeconomic context and issues that affect the quarter-life crisis.