So This Is What a Quarter-Life Crisis Is, Huh?

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
9 min read.

Ah, the timeless existential question that stresses us out way too much and is too hard to answer. So why are you reading this?

Oh! Let me guess. You are… going through a quarter-life or mid-life crisis! Me too! Internet Five!

I totally understand that you are probably in a strange place right now, but maybe you haven’t been completely honest with yourself about it. You might not want to be admitting to yourself that you’re going through something because then it makes your problems real. You probably think of self-help and personal development as a scam, it doesn’t work, it’s only for people who can’t get their s*** together.

Listen, it’s not for everyone and there are so many other ways people can pull themselves up. I’m not going to try to convince you of what you need, or what you should do because it’s your life, your decisions. All I’m trying to do with my writing is to at least get rid of the stigma that a lot of us have around personal development and our mental health, which is increasingly becoming a problem in our society today.

Who are you?

Maybe you’re in college, in your major, but you don’t enjoy it, it’s not inspiring. Maybe you were forced to do it by your parents or society, and you didn’t feel like you had the opportunity to explore. Now you’re working dead-end jobs here and there, hoping you would find inspiration from a random Instagram post, but there’s nothing.

Maybe you just want to try something completely different, but you’re paralyzed by fear, afraid of failing, worried about killing off your old self, forgetting where you came from, leaving your friends and family behind.

Maybe you’ve done everything right, got good grades, graduated from a good school, got that Managing Director title, worked your butt off towards something you thought you wanted, and you’ve found yourself in the middle of Antarctica, disappointed.

Or maybe you haven’t even had time at all, working 12 hour days, not learning anything other than how to deal with other people’s B.S., and then all that’s left in your brain is enough to binge Netflix for a couple hours before you pass out. If you do happen to find a second for yourself, you start wondering, What happened? How did I get here? What was the point of this day? This week? This year??

Welcome to the life crisis zone!

Please make sure to check in with a representative by the Passion Springs who will give you a badge and your welcome packet. Orientation starts right now.

Yeah, I think I’m funny sometimes…

Anyway, I’m here with you! But I’ve decided, I’m not going to let myself be consumed by it. Instead, I’ll embrace it, learn from it, and tell everyone about it, like it’s no big deal. OK, I may be a little bit delusional, so it’s probably a good idea to stop reading this now before you go crazy too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Disclaimer, I should mention that I am NOT a certified psychotherapist. I do not have any formal education or training in psychology or therapy. I’m just an emotive tech nerd who just wants to figure out this whole life thing as much as you do. I love life, people, and believing in building up a better society, starting with ourselves. But I only write to those who can relate to my story, and to share what I’ve learned along the way, so please take these words as just another perspective from a random dude on the Internet and seek professional counsel if necessary.

So back to this casual crisis of mine. It’s only been a few months, but I’ve already felt so many good changes in my life come in because of this. After posting a video of myself on YouTube, publicly announcing the fact that I’m going through a quarter-life crisis, I found that I was starting to have much deeper conversations with my friends, family, people I hadn’t seen or talked to in years, and even strangers. Nobody really had answers (because there is no one right answer), but it was still productive. I’m learning so much about myself and others every time I see people now because I’m much more open. Admittedly, I still struggle with it sometimes and purposely close myself off, so it’s a work in progress, but definitely way better than when I was younger.

These conversations were something I didn’t know I’ve been craving this whole time because not a lot of us are comfortable talking about the real stuff. There is such a large stigma on this and mental health and we shy away from it. Of course, I don’t have the all-universal fix, nor the skills and credibility yet, but putting myself out there, not just over the Internet, but with the people close to me, has already made me a better person than I was before. I’ll even admit that I would be embarrassed reading these self-help books in public, worried about what other people would think of me, but that in of itself was the first step in allowing myself to be vulnerable and not push it aside anymore. I’ll most likely be taking a lot of L’s along the way and be greatly judged, but it will be fine because I know I’ll be able to learn from it and bounce back. It will be a lot better than to cower in the corner and regret not doing anything about it.

I mention this both to selfishly make myself feel better about being a little weird, and to let you know that you should also be excited that this is happening right now because this is the start of something amazing for you, even if you can’t see it yet. I don’t know you, you may be going through some very heavy stuff, and I’m not going to claim that I understand or know exactly how you feel, but I can empathize. I think everyone can in some way or another. We’re all here on this planet together, with no clue what we’re doing either. Nobody exists on purpose. It’s crazy to think we’re even alive, through the odds.

Why am I doing this?

People tend to avoid thinking too deeply into our existential being. Maybe it’s too heavy, and sometimes depressing. Maybe because we value just being in the moment. Maybe we only care about what’s practical and what’s happening in front of us. Maybe we don’t want to seem airy, or in some other world. Maybe we’re afraid of what we’ll find, or don’t know how we would react to it. Those are all fair. But without this, we end up disconnected from ourselves, other humans, and this planet. We lose our values of care, empathy, generosity and it makes us take drastic measures to feel noticed, validated, and included. And that’s how we get pollution, corruption, deception, desperation, depression, violence, suicides, and abuse. This ignorance bubbles up very quickly to positions of power and the blackness spreads to everyone else under them.

Disheartening, right? Here’s how I think we can fix that.

After sitting around, casually pondering the questions of the universe, I came to the realization that maybe the reason why so many of us are struggling is because our people are lacking Emotional Intelligence. If you don’t know what that is, that already proves my point. There are plenty of good articles, books, and YouTube videos about it and its importance for us as an emotional beings (I plan on writing a separate post about my interpretation and definition as well).

Quick lesson, there are a few theories on what psychologists think human intelligence is exactly, but a common conception today is that humans don’t just carry an Intellectual Intelligence (measured by the intellectual quotient, IQ), but they also have an emotional intelligence (which is more difficult to measure and still in debate on whether we even can. For consistency, I’ll refer to it as EQ). Now, there is even more research being done on other forms of intelligence, classified as our Physical Quotient (PQ), Spiritual Quotient (SQ), and Adaptability Quotient (AQ). But let’s not get overwhelmed! I’ll be blogging solely on our EQ.

I don’t know if you care about all of these forms of measuring our intelligence, but if I haven’t lost you yet, I promise our EQ (or lack of it) is exactly why we feel like we’re in a life crisis right now.

The simple definition of EQ is the ability to recognize our own emotions and those of others in order to best regulate them and perform at higher levels as a human being. Though there is no one way to measure our EQ, studies have shown that the most successful people have displayed common traits, like self-awareness, self-confidence, self-efficacy, empathy, and relationship management. Having low levels of each or any of these will have a negative impact on our mental health, along with satisfaction and fulfillment in life.

In our case, maybe we’re going through whatever this thing is because we are not fully self-aware or confident in ourselves in who we are, what we can do, or what we even should do. And I say “we” because I am most definitely still working on my own EQ as well, and most likely forever will be. This isn’t something we can master. But when our EQ is low that’s when feel lost, apathetic, and unmotivated. We start to question our purpose, why we are here, why we’re so bored, why we’re not fulfilled. And sure, maybe too much awareness can make us over-analytical and anxious, where thinking too long in the bath tub with sad Drake songs playing in the background might decompose your body into the water itself. But these are important questions to ask in order to design a life you would be proud of. We can’t just chalk them off to “mental health issues” and ignore them. It’s time we open the door to the deep, dark basement that is our minds.

Deciding to be better

If you can’t already tell, I’m actually really glad that you’re here! You’re probably someone I can appreciate a lot since you most likely have some sort of awareness, or at least enough insight to understand that you are going through something right now, and I hope you are embracing it and getting better. I know you’re reading those blogs and articles, picking up those personal development books, listening to GaryVee, talking to a therapist, being open to friends and family. I love you!

However, be careful not to get stuck in the “self-help loop” and forget about yourself. It can get addicting to listen, read, and watch this stuff all day, but it’s still not going to help you if you don’t implement it. All of this Internet content are other people’s thoughts, perspectives, and experiences. None of them are yours. Ask yourself, what do you want to do? What gets you excited? What are you curious about? Imagine if you had all the time and money in the world, what would you do? How would you spend it? How could you use that to design your life and build a better version of yourself?

If that feels overwhelming, don’t forget to remind yourself that you are already more courageous than the majority of people out there who don’t even want to think about this stuff, let alone mental health, personal development, emotional intelligence, or existential crises. You’ve already done step 1, keep going! Don’t hesitate putting yourself out there. The power comes from your comfort with vulnerability, from knowing that you’re not ready, but you’ll do it anyway and figure it out along the way. I believe in you!

Now that we’ve finally established that you and I are sooo much cooler than everyone else, let’s reclaim this life crisis that we’re in. As corny as it sounds, let’s instead call this our revelation. It is our time now to reinvent ourselves. It’s our turn to start living for ourselves for once. And it’s OK to leave this old version behind in order to make space for an upgraded model.

Thank you for attending orientation! Please enjoy your stay at the Life Crisis Zone with some of my favorite books* right now. Until next time!

*The provided links may or may not be Amazon Associates affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you decide to purchase them, but it’s at no extra cost to you. I’ve read and/or followed the authors of these books before deciding to become an affiliate and just want to share them now because I absolutely love how they have helped me and the people in my life. If they help you, please let me know in the comments or message me on Instagram, along with your ‘aha’ moments or favorite nuggets!