Thoughts From A Quarter Life Crisis: A World On Pause

by Samantha Bell

There is something really interesting about taking your 25th trip around the sun while the world stands still. The quarter life crisis just hits different when everything around you is in complete disarray. You’re simultaneously coming to grips with the fact that your youth, at least by some societal measures, is fleeting. I had heard the term “quarter life crisis” thrown around many times in my life, but I don’t think I really believed in it. It always seemed like such a cliché notion to me. I just couldn’t buy into the idea that an age that sounded so youthful could send people into such a stir.

You’re still in your 20s – I always thought it was the 30s that warranted a good, old fashioned panic-applying of wrinkle cream. I actually looked at this concept as a cop out. An excuse to complain, or just another thing older people said to sound dignified or something. I now realize that I was being simple-minded and unfounded. Such is to be expected when you’re looking at the next level of life through the lens of someone who hasn’t yet seen much of it. It’s kind of hard to come to grips with the expiration of youth at the age of 15 or 20 when you feel absolutely infinite.

Turning 25 years old

There wasn’t anything too frightening, or transformative about the actual day I turned 25. I was lucky enough to spend it with a small group of friends, beer pong and lots of cake – a situation that (unlike me) never gets old. It took a day or two for the plates to shift. For everything to feel seismic, shaken and changed. But sure enough, once it did, it didn’t seem like such a ridiculous concept anymore. The idea that a specific age could feel so heavy. So much like a turning point. Weighty. Absolutely restless.

After having some time to digest it, I’ve come to the conclusion that at the age of 25, the ticking of the clock just gets louder. I had a really hard time working through this lingering idea in my mind. An urge to take inventory of everything overwhelmed me – my career path, my friends, my love life. I examined everything I had built and asked myself, is this what you want forever?

Time just felt more precious. Fragile. It was a brand new responsibility to be introspective, selective, mindful and above all – selfish. My entire outlook, all the things I thought I knew so well – permanently altered in a matter of days.

My analysis of a quarter life crisis

As my conscious spiral continued, I started to research the actual definition of the word “crisis”. Why not call it a quarter life conundrum? Or your “one-fourth-out-the-door” birthday? I found one definition that stopped me right in my tracks. “Crisis: A time when a difficult, or important decision must be made.” No wonder people freak out about this age? As terrifying as it was, it all snapped into place after that. I started to see the dreaded age of 25 as not that dreadful at all. Rather, I saw it as an illuminated fork in the road.

I’ve started to feel like every decision – whether it’s a major life move, or a small choice on a Monday evening, matters. Every single one gets neatly tucked away into a filing system that makes up my entire identity. I’ve found that my tolerance for situations, relationships and habits that do not fill me up with positivity or support have dwindled forever. While it’s a work in progress, I’m becoming more aware of where my energy is being received and cherished. Above all else, I think I’ve come to peace with the unforgiving, resolute beast that is change

A conclusion of my thoughts

Honestly, I don’t think a “quarter life crisis” is a crisis at all. It’s just a scary, intrusive view of the responsibility we have to ourselves. An internal gut check, or an opportunity to revisit “who you thought you’d be”. For me, 25 has manifested as a mile marker that demands decisions about the people around me, including my career, my interests and how I spend my time. All of it.

If I had spent this birthday like any other, if I wasn’t living through “the great pause,” or a period of my life where I had no choice but to disrupt the norm, would it have gotten lost? Buried in the tunnel-visioning, tedious scenery of errands, emails and obligations that make up another passing day. I’m not sure, but I’m really thankful it didn’t.

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