Today I have found a name for what I have been going through the past couple of years. I am having a Quaterlife Crisis. Attaching a name to my condition is not important but we human beings are social creatures. We need and thrive in (offline and online) communities. Therefore it is reassuring that I am not alone. Also knowing what it is could be useful in effectively targeting all efforts in overcoming this condition.
Although it is not yet as widely recognised as Midlife crisis, there are people out there studying this phenomenon. One of whom is Dr. Oliver Robinson at the University of Greenwich in the UK. According to Dr. Robinson, the Quarterlife crisis affects those between the ages of 25 – 35. Those with higher education levels are more likely to be affected (Hill, 2011). This age group feels stressed and pressured to perform; get a career, buy a house, get married and procreate. Furthermore globalisation has led to graduates competing with graduates worldwide for a job. In order to get a well paid job, it is necessary to have a good education and to ensure that students have to take out loans. After they do get that job, they made so many sacrifices for, they are plagued by doubt if the chosen career path is right for them. They are stressed at work, stripped of all idealism, buried under mounting debts and feel depressed as a result.
Dr. Robinson distinguishes 4 phases an affected person goes through.
Phase 1: Feeling trapped in one’s environment in terms of career and/ or relationships. I know this feeling. I have often been told, “You are free to do anything you want”. But in my mind I was not free. It is not a simple matter to leave a job one does not like. There are mortgage or as in my case loan repayments to consider. Furthermore there is the fear of the unknown. For instance, what if the work atmosphere and conditions are worse at a new job?
Phase 2: Growing conviction that “Yes I can change!” A mental and physical disconnection occurs between the person and various commitments. The person feels empowered and orients towards his interests and true self. I went through this phase too. This was the time, I decided to take the risk and quit my job to go on a yearlong round the world trip with my husband.
Phase 3: Restructuring one’s life. It is the phase I am in at the moment.
Phase 4: Committing oneself to a new way of life that reflects one’s aspirations and values. I see a danger of skipping this phase and getting back to Phase 1 again. What if I do not find a job that suits me? I might get caught up in the same kind of environment I was in Phase 1. In which case, my Quarterlife crisis would seamlessly flow into Midlife crisis. This is not a very encouraging thought.
Actually the solution really seems to lie in doing something I am passionate and interested about. Keeping my fingers crossed that I would find something suitable.
Hill, A. (2011, May 5). theguardian. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/05/quarterlife-crisis-young-insecure-depressed