As we are entering graduation season, I wanted to share five tips on how to survive your quarter life crisis because I had one and it was ROUGH.
A quarter-life crisis is hitting the period between 20 to 27, the quarter period of your life and having a breakdown. Not everyone goes through it. I had a quarter life crisis when I was 26. And let me tell you, it hit hard. It hit me like a Mack truck. Between 23 and 26, I was a very low earner and I had student loan debt. I was also responsible for paying all of my own life. I didn’t have any family financial support. I also really, really struggled to find a full time job.
For the life of me, I could not get hired at a full time, salaried position that came with benefits. All throughout my 20s, I worked part time jobs. And it was working five part time jobs that paid off my student loan debt and that helped me start investing. But it was really hard. It came with a lot of doubt. It came with a lot of insecurity. It came with a lot of literal pain. And it’s a time of my life that I look back on. And I think God, I wish that wasn’t as hard as it was.
When I was 26, I was depressed and I was broke. I was crying almost every day. I didn’t eat very well. I was drinking more than I really want to be or should have been. And I became really obsessed with my student loan debt. I would check my balances every single day. Not because they were changing, or I was doing anything about them. But it just became a very negative loop that I got stuck in.
But now I’m 35. And looking back, I can see a lot of things that I would have done differently if I had known about them at the time. So I want to share those things with you today in the hopes that your quarter life crisis, or just that period of your life, is a lot smoother and a lot easier than mine was.
1: Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Help can look a lot of ways maybe it’s therapy, maybe it’s simply having a friend that you feel comfortable opening up to. Maybe it is asking for financial support from family, whatever the help that you think you need is, please go and ask for it. And if you’re not sure what you need, you’re just kind of feeling weird and wonky and a little bit lost. Please talk to somebody in your life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your parents, maybe it’s your friends, your roommate, but somebody who can help you get an outside perspective and say, what I think might be helpful for you is X, Y and Z.
That’s going to at least give you a starting point. And honestly, simply sharing can be a helpful act in and of itself.
Somebody in my life recently told me that they had never been to therapy, and I was shaken to my core. I say that because I have been going to therapy off and on my whole life. I love therapy. I think it’s a really, really helpful tool for a lot of people. And you don’t have to be in crisis to seek out therapy.
When I was at my brokest, I found a program that worked with low income people because I was making $18,000 a year. I got the sessions for $10 a pop. And it was amazing. I went for six months. It was so helpful. It was a place where I could go and cry. It was a place where I could go and say I feel ashamed today. I could get not just feedback, but also support from a third party person. It wasn’t a friend, it wasn’t family. It wasn’t anyone who had any real stake in my life. And so that kind of neutral view, I found to be very helpful at pulling me out of shame spirals, depression, spirals and anxiety spirals.
3: Get clarity on what you want to do with your life
This is not what other people want you to do with your life, not what 16 year old you want it to do with their life, and not what you’re seeing other people do with their life. Really sit down and spend some time asking yourself, what do I want to do?
Comparison really is the thief of joy and when you are in your mid-20s, it’s so so so easy to look around your life, or to scroll on Instagram or Tiktok and see what thousands of other people are doing and to think, “Oh, I just need to do what Sandra is doing. I just need to do what Jose is doing. They seem happy they seem successful. Let me just follow in their path.” But is that what you really want?
This can be a really scary question to ask and it can be really scary to go after what you want, especially if it’s something that no one else in your family has done or you don’t have a concrete example of. So try and ask yourself, what is something that I really enjoy? What makes sense for me for my skill set for my desire for my lifestyle?
If you are spiraling out a little bit, and you’re feeling really anxious, you’re feeling really lost, I would love for you to go be of service through volunteering. I started volunteering at an after school program for girls in high school when I was at my saddest and brokest. And you might be thinking: when you’re at your sadness, and brokest? Shouldn’t you be on the hustle? Shouldn’t you be trying to get a full time job? Shouldn’t you be saving every single penny you have?
Well, no, not really. I mean, yes, those are like kind of good things to do. But clamping down even harder on my already fragile mental health was not what I needed at the time. I needed to get out of my house and get out of my pre-existing social circle and experiences. And going to work with these high school girls, as well as my fellow volunteers really, really helped me.
It helped me put my own experience in perspective and it connected me to other adults who are passionate about the same things I was passionate about. Volunteering opened up a whole new world for me, I got to meet potential professional contacts. I got to meet people who were not in my day-to-day social circle. And I got to have an impact on these girls lives which felt amazing because one of the things I really struggled with during my quarter life crisis, and this period of depression was not feeling like I was worthy, not feeling like I was a value and not feeling like anything I did mattered.
But I would go to this after school program and answer these girls questions or help them with the activities we had. And I’d be like, “Oh, I’m actually valuable.”
5: Take things one day at a time
Something that I did utilize at the time and that looking back I do continue to think is helpful is taking things one step at a time. Focusing on one area of your life that you want to change at a time. For me that started with money, I honed in on my student loan debt and realized, “Hey, I gotta get this out of here because I am obsessing over it and it’s making me feel like garbage. And it’s my second biggest bill every month.”
To get rid of my debt, I took it to an extreme. Paying off my student loans became my end all be all and I don’t necessarily recommend that. But using the system of organization to say, “Okay, for the next couple of months, I’m going to focus on getting my money right. After that, I’m going to focus on getting my physical health right. After that, I’m going to focus on making career changes.”
I think that’s a much easier way to approach things because it’s much more digestible. If you wake up tomorrow, and you want to start changing your eating habits, your exercise habits, your financial habits and your social habits. That’s a lot to fit in to the“ 17 hours you’re awake. You don’t have to change every aspect of your life immediately. Take your time, go slow and just try and be consistent.
Showing up for yourself day after day is really, really challenging for a lot of us. That’s why most diets fail, right? But if you can take the time, focus on one area of your life at once. I promise over time you will see change. Alright y’all, those are my words of wisdom from your favorite 35 year old. 😉
If you’re a more visual learner, I share the tips in the YouTube video below!