How to cope with a quarter-life crisis

Because it's something we all experience.

265
Photograph by Harriet Heaton

The otherwise-termed “mid-life crisis” appears to have become a growing issue for those in their twenties. This is about the time when people become part of the “real world”. As a third year, I share this impending fear of leaving the security of university behind to face the adult world. The symptoms of this phenomenon include feeling lost, scared, lonely or confused.

I think anyone coming to the end of university, whether they be an undergraduate or a postgraduate student, feels this sense of leaving something behind. I have friends who have put off leaving education by staying on to do further study such as a Masters, and of course for many people this is the right move whether it be motivated by career prospects or personal enjoyment.

But those individuals opting to do a Masters in order to escape the inevitability of leaving university, I fear might become lost: it is for those people and anyone else who is anxious about leaving education that more should be done to help.

Now Lancaster does have an excellent Careers team, but sometimes it can feel like this option is not the most helpful when you do not know where to start or what you want to do. So, after some research and personal experience, I can now provide three alternative tips for how to overcome a quarter-life crisis.

Firstly, you must know that what you are feeling is completely normal. Most people at some point have felt these emotions, maybe even your own parents. I personally struggled at the start of my final year. I panicked about what I wanted to do and whether my choice to apply for a Masters was for the right reasons.

It was by talking to my friends, lecturers and parents that I manged to decide to continue further study. Therefore, if you are struggling with anxiety regarding life after university, it might be worth talking with someone: whether that be a friend, lecturer or even the Careers team at the Base. There are people who want to help, so don’t do this on your own if you are struggling.

Secondly, steer clear of the pressure that can be found on social media, whether it comes from celebrities with multi-million-pound lifestyles, or your friends who have now graduated. Everyone is different and unique and we all have our own timelines of when we wish to have completed certain goals. Social media can therefore be damaging to our self-esteem, aggravating the symptoms of the quarter-life crisis.

My advice would be to have a break from social media, or, for those who do post a lot online, why not try talking to people individually, rather than posting for the world to see? I personally have taken these measures on social media and they do help. If you are concerned about backlash from a friend, just explain this concept to them. They will understand.

Finally, set realistic goals. We all must comprehend our own strengths and weaknesses and by setting realistic ambitions we develop a better understanding of ourselves. The goal might even be as small as getting that piece of coursework done before the night its due in: anything that gives you a sense of self-worth in the face of worldly pressures. My own goal is to be healthier and go to the gym more frequently.

In summary, you must remember that you are not alone in experiencing the quarter-life crisis and there is help out there. Simply talking about your worries with friends will help you enormously.