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How to Avoid the Quarter Life Crisis

  June 17

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The Quarter Life Crisis

Have you ever heard of the quarter life crisis? Or, are your currently experiencing a quarter life crisis and wondering how to get out of it?

Don’t worry; there is an end to the madness, and the secret for getting through it is right here in this post!

First, for those not in the know, a quarter life crisis is similar to a mid-life crisis in terms of feeling lost and wanting a change, except it happens in your mid 20’s.

However, before I give you the step by step to conquer this period of uncertainty like a champ, let me give you some background about my own experience turning 25.

My Quarter Life Crisis

I admit, when I turned 25 last year, I felt really lost and unsettled. Many of my friends around me were settling into careers, buying homes, and starting families, and we had just uprooted and moved to Grenada.

Before moving to Grenada, I spent six years studying American history. I got my master’s degree in history with the sole purpose of working in museums. I was lucky to go to school in Virginia where I was able to work at some incredible museums during all those years of school. The culminating experience was becoming a park ranger/historian for the National Park Service. It was something I wanted to do for a long time, a career I loved with co-workers I loved even more. However, instead of pushing hard to make it a career, I instead pulled back and made the decision to pack up and leave the country with the hubs.

Park Ranger Richmond

Feeling Strangely Free

Even though I missed my job when I moved to Grenada, I felt strangely free, like I could do anything I wanted. I started applying for staff writer jobs online with the goal of making my monthly student loan payment (I didn’t want to pay my loans with the hubs’ med school loans.)

Interestingly enough, the more staff writer jobs I got, the more I realized I’d missed my calling. Soon, I became aware that I wasn’t having a quarter life crisis at all. I was actually having a quarter life opportunity.

My experience writing online led to me getting a part time job in Grenada which later blossomed into a full time job. Soon, I was working 40 hours a week at my job and spending a few hours or so managing my blog and other blogs at night.

Today, just a few days after turning 26, I now work about 100 hours a week between staff writing, managing this blog, and my day job…and it’s the most fulfilled I’ve ever been.

Budget Blonde

What This Means For You

I think there are a few take aways from the experiences I’ve had the past few years. While everyone’s story is different, here are a few good techniques for avoiding the quarter life crisis:

1. Be Open To The Possibilities

If I would have been completely set on working in museums, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing right now, and I would have had an even a worse quarter life crisis.

Even though I spent a lot of time training for a career in one particular niche, I allowed myself to explore other options. I knew I loved writing, and I enjoyed managing my blog on the side. What I didn’t realize was that my blog would grow so much in one year. I had no idea that by putting more passion and work into it, it would become an actual business that could sustain me.

I know that it’s difficult to take a leap, to allow yourself to think about a different possibility, especially if you’ve spend so much time, energy, and money on one career path. Yet, I urge you to try letting go of all of those preconceived notions, especially if you are feeling unsettled.

Once I gave up the idea that I shouldn’t have a job outside of history and museums solely because I’d worked towards it, I realized that the skills I had were well suited for working in the online world. I’d interacted with people every day as a park ranger. Now I was just interacting with people online. I had to read, write, and study every day as a historian. Now, I still read, write, and look up countless articles and news stories to stay relevant for my blog.

In sum, my experience studying history for so long was a good one. I won’t lose that training, although I admit some of the Civil War battle dates that used to be so crisp in my mind have faded a little. However, the skills are still there. I just use them for something different now…


2. Don’t Worry About What Others Think

I feel like a lot of people my age are worried too much about what other people think. This can definitely put you in a quarter life crisis, and it’s something you should absolutely avoid at all costs.

So many friends of mine have felt split between what they want to do with their lives and what their parents or society wants them to do. I’ve also had friends decide to stay in jobs they hate only because they love the high paycheck.

Where’s the excitement? Where’s the passion? Where’s the ingenuity?

When you’re young and in your mid-20’s, you have the world at your fingertips. There’s no time for a quarter life crisis when there are so many cool ideas to explore!

Why waste these years pursuing a career that you don’t love? Honestly, there are a thousand excuses for staying in jobs you don’t like, but those won’t grant you the happiness of finding that one thing that makes you so excited it keeps you up at night.

3. Try, Try Again

I’m not promising that you’ll know what you want to do with your life at age 25. What I am promising is that if you keep trying, you will figure it out. The secret for avoiding the quarter life crisis is working hard, pursuing different passions, and constantly learning, adapting, and exploring. That really is the magic formula for finding out what you really want to do with your life.

I know it’s not easy when you get rejected. It’s not easy when business ideas fail. It’s not easy if you don’t have the support of those around you.

However, I can promise you that your dreams are worth it.

They’re worth the hard work. They’re worth the 100 hour weeks. They’re worth the frustration and the tears that you have to push through to get it right.

Trust me, when you find the career that makes you sparkle, the job that you can’t wait to sit down and start doing, the quarter life crisis will just be a distant memory.

How long will it take before you decide to get up and chase the dream?

The clock is ticking…

54 responses to “How to Avoid the Quarter Life Crisis

  1. That’s a pretty cool story. I don’t think I really had a quarter life crisis but I’ve done a lot of reading about them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m really trying to cut it down, girl or least give myself 1 day off a week. I don’t really mind it that much because the hubs is studying the whole time too. But, I’m looking forward to having just one job in the near future, haha.

  2. I feel ya. I graduated from law school, passed the bar, and promptly moved back home with my parents because I couldn’t find a job. I keep hoping and praying the job market will bounce back, but I understand the quarter life crisis well.

    1. Ugh, I hate to hear that someone who worked so hard at law school can’t find a job. I have all my fingers and toes crossed for you!

      1. Yes, you’re actually not the first reader to mention that. Someone on facebook was also discussing law school in relation to this issue. It’s definitely a problem.

  3. To start and as a completely irrelevant aside, the park ranger look is tough to pull off and you totally make it work 🙂

    I used to think that I didn’t have the luxury of having a quarter-life crisis. I call it a luxury because for most, it’s when we’ve finally gotten comfortable in a job, have gotten much of our finances in order, and have some breathing room to think. I used to say I didn’t have this luxury because I spent my 25th year mostly trying to not get exploded, but it’s not entirely true — I did do a lot of introspection at that time and did make some pretty big life moves after then. Thanks for the post!

      1. I was just being very careless with illegal fireworks :/

        No, I was serving overseas and I thank you for your thanks 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing your story, this was an inspiring post :). I am kind of feeling like this already, stuck in a rut. I’m not using my degree at all and I would love to do something related to it because it’s what I was passionate about in college. In the area I live there’s barely any openings though. I would have loved to be a park ranger! Hopefully someday soon when I can move – but for now I am having fun with the world of blogging and am definitely open to new opportunities should they arise.

    1. Thanks! So glad it was inspiring. It’s hard to not use the degree that you have, especially if you love what you do so much! Here’s hoping that you can move soon or figure out something else that’s even better for you!

  5. Mr PoP and I both quit our jobs and moved in together when we were 25 and within a year we were married and buying a house. Oh, and we got a kitten! Don’t know if that counts as a quarter-life crisis, but it was definitely a time of big changes and we rolled with them as much as we could. =).

    1. Two points for Kitty PoP! Sounds like a great time, and yall are so cute. 25 is a good time to have some big changes and roll with them!

  6. Great words, Cat! Seriously this is one of my favorite posts you’ve written, ever. I think the most important thing is to NOT care what others think. It’s funny how much easier things get when you stop caring what people think about your career and life. It really should have no impact on what you do, since how you spend your time, how you make your money, where you live, etc. is totally up to you.

    1. Aw, thanks DC! That’s very kind of you to say. I agree that your life is totally up to you! Now if only all of us could embrace that! 😀

  7. This is awesome advice, Cat. It’s so great that you found your calling and didn’t have to wait another 20 years for it to show itself. I definitely have a tough time with #2 and #3 above. I am constantly worrying about what others think about me, when I should just be looking for the next opportunity. I also get disheartened if I don’t succeed right away, but it’s a good reminder to just keep trying. It’s great to hear you’re loving what you’re doing now and you get to live in an amazing location, so it’s got to feel like a double bonus.

    1. Aw, thanks Jake! I also get down if I don’t succeed right away. I want to be good at everything right from the start. I’ve realized that sometimes it just takes a little while to acclimate to a new idea or job, and once that happens, the sky is the limit!

  8. Great post Cat, though my quarter life crisis was way too many years ago. 😉 That said, I love your thoughts here and can relate to a lot of them. I can relate especially to #2. We dealt with that quite a bit when we started our business last year. However, you have to live life for yourself and not for others…otherwise you’ll never be happy.

    1. Hey John! Thanks! 😀 It’s hard not to worry about others and even worse to have to listen to those who are negative about your choices. Glad you’re pursuing your dream!

  9. Another great post! Some people get so bogged down into thinking about climbing the career ladder that by the time they take a look around, they realize they’re on the wrong ladder! (well, the wrong ladder for them.) If we challenge ourselves while we’re still young, finding that perfect path for us will be a no-brainer 🙂

  10. This post really strikes a chord with me. I’m currently in the midst of trying to figure out how to escape my current job and transition into something I find more fulfilling. I have a very clear idea of the long term goal, but feeling very adrift how to get there. Certainly all about the little steps and being willing to take the risk. Just trying to make it happen. Thanks for sharing your story, Cat!

  11. My name is Rachel, and I’m a quarter life crisis survivor.

    I was nodding my head through this entire post. I went through a MAJOR quarter life crisis that lasted for a really intense eight months. I spent countless years and tons of money getting a degree in a field I thought would make my family proud, when all I really wanted to do was be a writer. Long story short, I quite my job in healthcare and now manage social media for a great company. I get to write blog articles and converse with people online, and it’s amazing. And just like you mentioned, all the skills I acquired in healthcare helped prepare me for my new role. I also decided to seriously pursue writing, and now I’m almost done with my very first manuscript. Between my job and writing my book, I work way more than I did before I switched paths. But now, I’m (as you said) the most fulfilled I’ve ever been. Following your dreams is worth it, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

    Thank you for the writing this post, Cat! I hope it inspires people of all ages to start living the life they’ve always wanted.

  12. I love this post! I agree, even though I work like mad right now, plus raise a family I also feel great right now. I wish I could balance work/blog a little more though. Will you work with history when you get back to the US?

    1. I won’t say that I’ll never work as a historian in the future, but right now I’m focusing on being a 100% freelance writer starting in January. I am working on a few projects that combine the two, like writing articles that feature certain famous financial people throughout history.

  13. What a great post! I understand the mid-quarter crisis….even though I am only 24. I’m a 100% with where I am, but I am working to take some risk, some chance, and start a new adventure very very soon. This is the time….before the responsibilities of later adulthood.

  14. I know Brian already posted, but I’m going to jump in – I totally had a quarter life crisis. I questioned my work in the biomedical industry, question where my life was going… I ended up turning my career in a completely different direction, reinvesting time into writing, and getting an awesome new job. 😀

  15. Don’t worry about what other people will say is still something I struggle with. I’ve spent so much of my life studying and going to the “right” schools and working towards a career that I sometimes get stuck in thinking about what other people might say when I finally quit my job to follow my passions. I think it will be incredibly liberating and scary all at the same time. I’m not ready quiet yet, but I think in a year I will be.

  16. Love this post. I do hope that people really take your message to heart. I’m pretty much right in the middle of this and am really thinking about applying what I’ve learned as a teacher in the freelancing world. If you think about it (and as cheesy as it sounds), things happen for a reason. We cannot grow and be stronger if everything in our life went in one direction and we were satisfied with our lives all the time.

    While I don’t think that freelance writing is my true calling, at least I’m trying to experiment (and at least make some money on the side!) and see what is.

  17. I don’t think I had a quarter life crisis but I did stumble upon my current job in a strange way. It’s amazing what can happen when you have an open mind!

  18. I remember those 60-80 hrs per week I think I will be back to those soon once my side hustles and business pick up. I like the quarter life opportunity. Sooner are later though you are going to need a break from the 100 work weeks. I didnt have a crisis but at the beginning of this year i realized I just wasn’t happy doing what everyone else was doing and what people thought I should be doing. I left a lot of money on the table but I am happier now then I ever was before.

    1. That’s awesome!! And yes, I do need a break from the long work weeks. It’s coming though. January 1, I’ll just have one job, not two. 😀

  19. Great post, Cat. We do get so caught up in what’s life is “supposed” to be and our role in it. And we sometimes get a little lost. I can’t remember whether I had a quarter life crisis (too long ago to remember! LOL!) but I love the idea of a quarter life opportunity. Life is just one big opportunity if we are open to it. When I started The Heavy Purse it grew at a snail’s pace for many, many months, which was disheartening. Because I cared so much about the subject matter, I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and did something about it. Now we’re growing and reaching more people every day. I may be bone-tired some days when I fall into bed, but it’s a happy tired.

    1. Haha I can relate to the bone tired feeling, but your blog is so awesome. I know you’re going to be great (you already are!)

  20. I love how you switched it from crisis to opportunity, because it’s indeed the latter! What also helped me was finding a mentor, who gave me great advice not only in terms of career options and networking, but general life stuff, as well. Great tips you gave, especially about being open minded!

  21. Great post! I’ve been suffering from a quarter-life crisis lately myself! My 25th birthday is quickly approaching. I got depressed on my 24th realizing that I would soon be turning 25 and my life was not at all where I wanted it to be so I buckled down, made a list of things I wanted to do before 25 and I’ve crossed almost all of them off. There is still so much to be done but I already feel better. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  22. I don’t think I went through a crisis in my life like you describe but for those that do I think they can take lots away from your experience here and the tips you offer. The point about not worrying about what anyone else thinks is what stood out to me. I often consider that if I worried about what people told me I should or shouldn’t have done with my life I wouldn’t be where I am today, happily married and working in a career I love half way across the world from my family and where I grew up. Life is what we make of it.

  23. I love the idea of working in a museum, unless I had to be around kids all day. Just having come from the zoo today, I’m not sure I could handle it. 🙂 I up and quit my job at 24 and moved to Seattle. Best. Decision. Ever. Sometimes you just gotta take the leap!

  24. I am having the crisis as we speak. I have learned to embrace parts of it but ultimately I recognize that I have to take a risk and live out what I love because the “payoff” is much greater!! A lovely post – thank you!

  25. I’m late to finding and reading this article but I wanted to tell you that I thought you have done amazing at finding possibilities. Moving to Grenada really moved you away from what your original plans were (at least for awhile) and you took that and have built yourself a pretty cool freelance writing career. Nicely done lady, you are an inspiration!

  26. I am really happy that I stumbled across this post.
    For me, I think that being open to new possibilities and not caring what other people think are interrelated, and very difficult to overcome!
    After spending college focusing all of my energy into my field (Economics), I feel that the logical progression is for me to work in that field.
    But, I know that I will be happier, and potentially more successful, working in a more creative field.
    I am also finding it surprisingly difficult to try to make decisions without caring what other people think… and with Facebook and LinkedIn, it feels like all of my peers are constantly tracking and judging me.

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