I have type A personality so I like to do as much research and preparation before I set out to do something. This includes dealing with quarter life crisis.
I remember my very wise friend Natira telling me that quarterlife crisis comes in waves: At different age in your twenty’s, you freak out about different things.
I remember the paralyzing fear and anxiety I felt during the period after college. I went to the campus hospital because I was experiencing sudden bouts of nausea, intense headaches, and difficulty breathing. I thought I had developed a brain tumor or asthma, or caught some weird disease somehow.
When the doctors kept running tests and coming back with negative results, I vividly recall the nurse asking, “Is there anything else going in your life right now that we should know about?” When I answered with feigned nonchalanced, “Oh um, I’m just looking for my first real job. I graduated a couple of weeks ago. Not doing much,” the nurse’s face changed from puzzled to really, really concerned. She suggested softly “You need to go see a counselor, hon.”
Thus I made an appointment at the psychological services department. (Big shout out to UC Berkeley for letting students keep their health insurance for a few weeks after graduation! AND providing the first five counseling appointments FO’ FREE! Thank you, thank you, thank you!) Each session flew by quickly because I just had so much to say, things that I thought would make me seem weak or whiny if I told them to my peers or family. I thought I was one of the very few people going through similar things, or at least the ones taking it the hardest.
At the time, I had no idea that quarter life crisis was a thing. I also had no idea how common it is. After I’ve found a job (well, paid full-time internship is close enough), I told friends about the physical symptoms I had that lead me to seeing a counselor, and to my surprise, many of them apparently also made themselves worried-sick during their first real job hunt. We were just all too embarrassed to admit to each other. Most of them did not seek professional help like I did because they didn’t think this was important enough to warrant that.
Now I’m not so nervous about my future that I’m tossing my cookies randomly anymore, but now there’s just a quiet disturbance always bubbling beneath the surface. I didn’t want to wait until for it to erupt to learn about how to deal with it that when my other twentysomething coworkers told me about the book Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How To Make The most of Them Now By Doctor Meg Jay, I bought it immediately.
I find it extremely helpful. The book couldn’t possibly give me personalized, specific recommendations on how I can work to improve my life, because every reader is unique, but the book did provide really poignant ways and realistic perspectives to think about how I can begin to improve various aspects of my life. Using examples from her anonymous clients, Meg Jay draws insight from these real-life twentysomethings’ often misled reasoning and how we could do differently to move forward. While I don’t have the same issues as them, I easily sympathize and quickly relate with each one. Sometimes I’d even think to myself, “Oh this sounds a lot like my friend ____!”
I’m not going to spoil the book for you, and it is definitely worth reading for yourself, but here are the three main points that I personally find the most valuable: