How do you reboot after a Quarter Life Crisis?

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Answered by: Jessy , An Expert in the 20-somethings Category
It's those existential feelings of, 'What am I doing with my life,' that are at the core of the infamous, 21st-century syndrome: the Quarter LIfe Crisis. The syndrome can be summed up as follows: fresh faced, idealistic, undergraduates (or early 20 somethings) shed their rose colored glasses and are hit with a hard dose of melancholic reality. No more are the days of wistfully daydreaming of writing that novel, inventing the next great mobile phone app, or becoming that perfect combination of traveler/foodie/entrepreneur. Reality hits when the emails from financial aid start filling the inboxes. Time to 'get serious.'

So let's say you 'got serious,' or you are on the road to 'getting serious.' You've landed that secure 9-to-5 job with health benefits and overtime. Or you're going through the steps of actively job searching, combing the minefields of prospective employers, updating that outdated LinkedIn profile, tapping into your social network. You are serious or just about getting there.

Now what? Those pesky feelings might still linger and those thoughts of 'What am I doing with my life,' might now have turned into 'Why am I still not happy, satisfied? Is this it?'

Here are some words of wisdom from fellow 20-somethings who've been or are going through that mental wringer:

1) Don't run away from those thoughts or feelings. They are there for a reason and they are trying to tell you something important. Ignoring them will just make them stronger.

Instead try the following:

Block out a specific time (5, 10, 15 minutes) every week, a couple times a week, or everyday to just sit with those thoughts. Notice those thoughts and feelings but don't engage in them. So, in other words, notice that you are having feelings of, for example, worthlessness. Notice those thoughts, visualize them or speak them aloud, and then let them pass.

Follow this by blocking out another specific time (5, 10, 15 minutes) every week, a couple times a week, or everyday to do something that gives you energy: write, draw, run, dance, pet your cat. Basically, any activity that you can feel recharged afterwards.

2) Do not isolate yourself. Surround yourself with close family and friends or understanding co-workers and neighbors. Having a few trustworthy people that you feel comfortable around can mean the difference between thoughts and feelings, to early signs of depression or other self destructive habits.

3) Play! Now is the time to tap into your inner child. What or who brought you comfort? Seek that item or person out. What activities did you enjoy? Do them. What cartoons or childhood movies made you laugh or think? Watch them again.

And lastly and most importantly,

4) Always keep in mind that these thoughts and feelings, they are not going to last forever. Sure, they are your present reality now. And yes, it may be painful. But, 5, 10, 20, 40 years down the line, that quarter life crisis, will have been just a phase.

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