Scrolling up and down through the pages of Facebook and Instagram has become a habit now. However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing sudden irritation after reading a few posts that announce: friends getting married; people younger than me following their dreams and being successful at them; quotes on “Monday Motivation”; friends buying cars that I had been dreaming of for years. Feeling sad, I put down my phone and that’s when I started my new routine of overthinking.
I took a walk down memory lane and recollected what my ambitions were when I was a teenager. These included having a nice flat to live in, a good and caring partner to have dinners with, and a job that I love by the age of 25 or 26. This hit me harder than a lightening. Reality is so conflicting: I’m renting a place in the city with four other roommates that I hate, stuck at a job because it’s paying off my education loans, I’m through with searching the right guy and now have no interest in having a serious relationship. I realized that I have completely and utterly failed my 13-year-old self and that’s when my head began to spin, my palms got sweaty, and tightness seized my chest. And I don’t have to be a doctor to realize that I’m having a panic attack.
If this feels familiar to you, dear comrades, you’re suffering from “quarter-life crisis”. According to psychology, it is a period of insecurity, disappointment, and doubt surrounding your relationships, career, and current financial situation during your 20s or early 30s. The common thoughts running through your mind are, “I have a well-paid job, but this is not how I pictured myself living for the rest of my life”; “I’m with the girl I like, but what if there’s a better one just a swipe away?”; “It makes no sense that I opt for a loan to get higher studies to secure a well-paid job so I can repay my loans”; or “I neither can afford to live the way I want nor want to live the way I’m living”.
According to a recent study by LinkedIn that surveyed more than 6,000 people with ages ranging from 25 to 30 in the U.K., the U.S., Australia, and India, it was found that around 59% of the participants are not clear about what they want as their career or from their life, around 54% struggle with career options, and around 49% of them think that they don’t earn enough money. It is clear that all those people are going through sadness, anxieties, and depression; however, none of them could articulate the reason behind those feelings, or put a word to this sense of failure. If I take a deep look at myself, I think I’m healthy, earning a decent amount of money, have close friends to go out with, and on friendly terms with my family– and yet, I’m lost. On the other hand, people around me are busy planning a trip to Corsica or Italy, having cute little babies, and posting their “relationship goals” on Instagram that I double tap with heavy eyes.
The mark of 30-year-old is absolutely frightening. You’re too old to live with your parents and too broke to live on your own as the loans are dragging you down. On the other hand, society had been telling you to follow your dreams and that the age of 20s is to “make mistakes and get a new perspective”. Millennials have led their lives completely different than their parents. Unlike their grandparents, they never experienced the times of World War and unlike their parents, they never struggled hard to earn two time’s meal. What we experience right now is a luxury for our parents as they never had such freedom in their time and age. However, we are beautiful, talented, and can turn our passion into a career but still end up feeling lost as we keep up with some unrelenting standards forced upon us by society, social media, and even ourselves. Our childhood vision of our life was formed by mimicking our parents and milestones accomplished by TV actors, which is no longer realistic. The society markers such as getting married before 30, owning a home, and securing an attractive salary package are no cakewalks given the current state of real estate, low-income jobs, and unending inflation. This has created a huge gap between our dreams and reality, and we’re left with no clue about how to reach the other side of this dark tunnel of unanswered questions.
However, in search of an answer, I have gathered a few solutions. Instead of achieving our goals at a faster rate and ultimately reaching nowhere, we can stop and accept our life as it is, even if it’s nowhere near our goals. Instead of worrying about how to bridge the gap between age and life goals, we should think about what we have. Take small steps to increase your standard of living and focus on how you can improve yourself to get your dream job. Most importantly, if you’re reading this, that means you’re ready to get out of your quarter-life crisis as you’re searching for answers and no longer dwelling on your hardships. More importantly, know this, you aren’t alone. You can talk about it with your peers. So, instead of fearing posts on social media, use that platform to raise questions, increase awareness regarding mental health, and stand up for a greater cause. In short, instead of crying at why you don’t own a yellow Lamborghini, focus on passing a driving test. Just take one baby step at a time and you’ll be just fine.