Adultescence Lifestyle

13 Signs That You’re Experiencing a Quarter-Life Crisis

Sign #1: you’re reading this article.

Sometimes life hands you lemons, and other times…it hands you a quarter-life crisis.

There’s nothing more humbling than a good ol’ quarter-life crisis. Sometimes, it’s all you need to finally quit that job, dump that jerk, or tell off that toxic friend. Ya know, after all the…turmoil.
Quarter Life Crisis - stressed at work

What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

While there’s not an official definition of a “quarter-life crisis” in the dictionary, Bradley University has defined the phenomenon as, “a period of uncertainty and questioning that typically occurs when people feel trapped, uninspired and disillusioned during their mid-20s to early 30s.” Sound familiar?

To make matters worse, these feelings of entrapment, uncertainty, and lack of inspiration are coupled with the narrative that your twenties should be “the best times of your life!” Mix that all up, garnish it with the societal pressure to have your life figured out by age 30, and you’ve got a crisis cocktail, on the rocks.

If this is starting to sound like you, don’t fret. You’re one of millions of other twenty-somethings going through the same exact thing. It’s the era of peak-confusion as you figure out how to achieve that “wild success” that was promised by your commencement speaker. We’re still waiting…
Quarter Life Crisis - stressed woman

13 Signs You’re Experiencing a Quarter-Life Crisis

If you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis, here are 13 tell-tale signs that you are. And remember those Tiger Beat quizzes from childhood? Same rules apply here. If you relate to three or more of these, you might just be in the midst of a QLC. (Alongside everyone else from your alma mater.)

And while this probably goes without saying, we should add the disclaimer that we’re not therapists. If you’re struggling with any of these experiences, we absolutely advise that you speak with one.

1. You’re totally unsure about what to do with your life…

…and not in a quirky, free-spirited, wanderlust kind of way. More like a doom-scrolling, stressed-out-about-your-future kind of way. It’s hard to think about your “five-year plan” without having a mild freak out. Your lack of clarity around your future feels more like a death sentence than an opportunity.
Quarter Life Crisis - stressed woman

2. Pretty much every job fails to satisfy you.

In classic quarter-life crisis fashion, you’ll have that itch to quit every gig you get. All jobs feel unfulfilling or boring. You spend your lunch breaks scrolling through LinkedIn and plotting your escape. Inspiration feels like it’s at an all time low, no matter what you do.

3. You feel like you’ve accomplished nothing in the years after college.

A person in the heat of a quarter-life crisis will struggle to see the positives in their situation. Instead, the spotlight will be on all of the wrong choices you’ve made: how doomed you are for success, and that one time you walked into a bar with toilet paper stuck to their shoe.
Quarter Life Crisis - anxious woman

4. You’re “that friend” who reminisces about college a smidge too frequently.

If you send college memories to your friends daily and always reminisce on the “good ol’ days,” you might be in a quarter-life crisis. QLC’ers love to believe that yesteryear was better than the present…ever heard of romanticizing the past?

5. Bed time = spiral time.

A person struggling with a quarter-life crisis hates relaxing before bed. You actually find it much more productive to think about every time you’ve screwed up in life, and all the impending screw-ups your future beholds. Your FitBit sleep scores rival our college test scores.
Quarter Life Crisis - sleepless woman

6. “Am I behind?” is your favorite question.

“Am I behind on saving for retirement or a house?” “Am I behind on my career?” “Am I behind on finding a life partner?” TBH, all you’re behind on is finding a good therapist.

7. Your Sunday Scaries resemble Jamie Lee Curtis’s in Halloween.

A week full of emails and meetings is enough to send you down the rabbit hole of doom. Any passerby would think you were being stalked by Michael Myers based on the look on your face. No Michael Myers around here, but definitely a lot of Google searches such as ‘how to retire at 25 without working.’
Quarter Life Crisis - stressed woman

8. You have very little confidence in the decisions you’ve made in life thus far.

Every previous decision you’ve made feels like a mistake. Maybe your degree feels useless, or you wonder if you moved to the right city or chose the right friend group. Your confidence in your choices is at an all time low.

9. Your response to every problem is to buy a one-way ticket to Europe.

People in the throes of a quarter-life crisis love to flee. Or at least… threaten to flee. Moving out of the country, quitting your job, or breaking up with your partner all feel like potential solutions to your quarter-life crisis. Sometimes they are part of the solution, but there are often bigger things at play.
Quarter Life Crisis - traveling woman

10. You feel like your life decisions are irreversible.

You feel totally trapped by the first job you got after college, or the field of work you chose to go into. The choices you made at 18 or 21 years old feel like they’re shackled to your life indefinitely (pssttt, they’re not). 

11. You’ve made (or considered making) major life changes just to feel something.

Have you ever been bored with your life, so you get a dog? Or apply to a Master’s program just because? Or decide to get married on a whim? Those in the heat of a QLC might make hasty decisions just to feel like life is progressing. But in reality…you don’t feel like picking up dog poop, and that guy you met on Hinge is definitely not the one.
Quarter Life Crisis - moving

12. You have weekly meltdowns about how you’re going to afford your lifestyle.

We know you’d probably prefer to bury your head in the sand about finances, but unfortunately that’s likely what got you here. But we promise, if you just pay a little closer attention to the status of your bank account, you won’t need to spiral every time you spend 50 bucks at Target.

13. You think you’re the only one who hasn’t figured their life out.

Your twenties (or thirties) have been plagued with the feeling that everyone else is happier, richer, more successful, and more clear on their future than you are. As a result of this comparison, you’re deeply unhappy with where you’re currently at in your life.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast, blog and social media brand for twenty-somethings making the transition from life in college to adulthood. She writes about dating, friendship, money, and career. She also specializes in consumer insights, and is passionate about helping brands infuse the voice of their customers into their marketing, product, and CX strategies.

In her free time, you can find Jess spinning at The Handle Bar, obsessively consuming personal finance content, and playing with her adorable (but chaotic) puppy, Luca. You can follow her on Instagram @jesslohr or on LinkedIn.

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