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Is Quarter Life Crisis Even A Thing?

By Aisyah Samuin. |


When I was little, I could not wait to grow up. As an adult, I could earn money, travel, and do whatever I want. I even have a list of things I vow to do before I hit the golden age of 30. There are 9 things I envisioned myself to be 10 years from the date the note was written. Now, fast-forward 10 years later, how close am I to my vision and how do I feel about it?


To be fair, I wasn’t very visionary at 20 years old and have far more brilliant goals now than back then. At the age of 30, I’m quite fine with my current accomplishments. However, I wouldn’t say getting to this mind-set was an easy journey at all. Late 20s is a difficult period to figure out and I am sure a lot of people feel the same way. The question is, is this a common phenomenon or just mind games?


The Emergence of Quarter-Life Crisis



Quarter-life crisis is coined from the famous term “mid-life crisis”. Both terms share the same nuance where one experiences difficulty or dissatisfaction in one’s direction or quality of life. Mid-life crisis is said to start around 45 to 64 years old and usually induced by one’s own mortality - going through incidences or stressors resulting in dissatisfaction in later life.

On the other hand, quarter-life crisis could start as early as 18 years old or after a young adult enters the real world once detaching themselves from their primary caretaker. Unlike mid-life crisis which is triggered by dissatisfaction and usually results in overcompensation and sudden change of habitual behaviour, quarter-life crisis is commonly triggered by feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and confusion at life’s on-goings.


Is Quarter-Life Crisis real and is it common?


Depending on culture and environment, quarter-life crisis is sometimes brushed off and not taken seriously by people in the immediate surrounding. If not addressed appropriately, quarter-life crisis caused by high stress from transition to adulthood could contribute to other types of disorders in this age group such as addiction, anxiety, depression and other mental-health issues.


Possible causes of Quarter-Life Crisis

Here are some of the reasons why this phenomenon could be plaguing you:

  • Comparison: We compare our lives and accomplishments with other people all the time especially on social media. While it is good to maintain a competitive edge and gain inspirations from other people’s success, sometimes what we see on social media can easily make us downplay our own accomplishments and worth.

  • Failures and rejections: It's a fairly common experience as mid-20s to mid-30s to face these factors as it's a crucial period where most people navigate life and try to get to know themselves and form intimate relationships with other people. It wasn’t as bad and challenging in the past where we only get news about other people from our closest friends. Now, everyone’s celebrations and anniversaries are shoved to our face on social media in real time. It is hard not to feel left out, less-than or lousy especially after having a bad day.

  • High expectations: As of year 2019, the generation that is currently at the ripe age of 25 – 30 years old are the Millennials. Millennials characterize how life should be with their unrealistic expectations on career and life. These unnatural high expectations, combined with the challenges of navigating the “self-discovery” phase of life make it easy for young adults to fall victim to quarter-life crisis.

How to overcome Quarter-Life Crisis?


If you suspect yourself or your loved ones are going through a quarter-life crisis, here are some ways you could do to help alleviate the feeling of hopelessness this crisis brings:


Train yourself to be mentally strong

This, of course, is easier said than done but it is not impossible. The outcome to every scenario in our life is determined by how we respond to it. For starters, try by changing your mind-set and to see the silver lining of everything. For example, tell yourself that every failure brings you closer to a success and every rejection brings you closer to an acceptance. Only through mistakes and failures is when we know how to overcome it, and that’s when you know you can achieve anything from thereafter. It is all about what we tell ourselves.


The 5-Year rule

I like to tell myself this all the time when I get too carried away with my problems and worries.

“If it is not going to matter 5 years from now, do not even waste 5 minutes worrying about it”.

With the case of quarter-life crisis, we tend to obsess over immediate failures and obstacles. Not all problems are worth getting all worked up over because they aren't going to haunt you forever.


Remember those university nights when you felt like you’re not going to make it to graduation? Well, look at yourself today. Those hurdles were the ones which shaped you now.


Be kind to yourself and your peers

It is perfectly fine to fail and to not be okay with how your life is currently going. It is okay to hate your job. It is okay to feel upset about a broken relationship.


Yes, we may be judgmental to one another but remember that these feelings are normal and valid. What isn’t normal is beating yourself about it. We pledge to be kind to people but we often forget to be kind to ourselves.


All things will pass

In the end, good or bad, everything will pass. One of my favourite inspirational story about overcoming the odds is the story of JK Rowling. She went through a lot of sufferings and uncertainties around this age and managed to emerge victorious.


Whatever you are going through that causes your quarter-life crisis dilemma, trust me, that too, will pass. Trust in your journey and good luck.


You may also find out more about Aisyah through her Instagram.

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