4 Tell-Tale Signs You're Having a Quarter-life Crisis

How to Know if You’re Having a Quarter-life Crisis


Young adulthood is a challenging transitional life phase for many people. Throughout their 20s and into their early 30s, a young adult might feel confused about their career, relationships, purpose in life and more.

Sometimes, these feelings develop into a quarter-life crisis, which makes an incredibly confusing time even more stressful.

Here's how to tell if you or someone you care about is experiencing a quarter-life crisis, and useful tips on how to find more clarity.

1. You feel burnt out and disillusioned with your job or career

This is perhaps the most common and easily recognized sign of a quarter-life crisis. Career dissatisfaction can take on many forms. As an example, you may feel that your job is getting in the way of your real passions, interests and dreams.

For some young adults, finding a new job or changing careers is the clear solution. For others, it could be a matter of finding fulfillment outside of work.

2. Overall, you feel dissatisfied with your life

During counseling sessions with people struggling through a quarter-life crisis, it's not uncommon for us to talk about the patient's overall feelings of dissatisfaction with their life. 

If you can relate to this quarter-life crisis sign, you might feel as though you haven't achieved all of the goals you "should" have accomplished by now. But, it’s important to recognize that this “shoulding” is a type of cognitive dissonance — learning how to overcome it is one of the first steps to resolving your crisis. 

3. You try something new that you’ve always wanted to do

A quarter-life crisis doesn't always have to be a bad thing. These types of events can also positively change your life.

Let's use career aspirations as an example. You may have been pressured by family or society to pursue a certain type of job in a specific industry. During a quarter-life crisis, you might recognize how this has negatively impacted your well-being. Armed with this knowledge, you decide to take a class and learn new skills, which ultimately helps you find a career that you genuinely enjoy.

It doesn’t always have to be a foundational life change, either. Trying a new hobby, or getting outside of your comfort zone, in general, can both be positive aspects of a quarter-life crisis. 

Big or small, changes like these are signs that you are learning how to value your own happiness, without letting the expectations of others dictate how you should behave.

4. You accept that there’s no such thing as “perfect”

When you accept that perfection is impossible, it's a sign that you may be nearing the end of your quarter-life crisis. You realize that life is a journey, and all you can do is keep trying your best.

This isn’t an easy place to reach, which is why quarter-life crisis counseling can be so helpful. Therapy is particularly beneficial if you are experiencing clinical symptoms, like depression and anxiety. Your therapist will help you find clarity so that you can live your best life.