I’ve noticed a theme amongst prospective applicants.
High-achieving men and women with stellar academic performance, thousands of hours in both HCE and PCE, ambitious go-getters, and great communicators – reach out with a great deal of uncertainty in their voices.
Nine times out of ten, it’s regarding the personal statement. They can’t seem to clearly and effectively communicate their why.
Confidence in knowing they have what it takes to get into and succeed in the program is present. Validation from professionals in the field have confirmed a belief in their ability to be great, yet still, they remain unmoved. Stalling with never-ending planning and asking questions they either know the answer to or can easily find on their own.
When I ask what they are afraid of: the answer is typically a brief pause followed by something along the lines of – I don’t want to make the wrong choice but I have to do something soon.
What is the quarter-life crisis?
When young adults between their Mid 20s to early 30s feels uncertain and begin questioning the direction and quality of one’s life. A period marked by deep soul-searching and stress.
You’re not alone – Roughly 86% of millennials have experienced a quarter-life crisis.
The confirmation for my suspicions comes from their history – multiple degrees and diverse work experiences from job hopping, hours spent researching various careers as well as the completion of numerous personality tests and career assessments in search of answers.
Why is it an issue?
The crisis itself isn’t an issue. In fact, I believe it to be a necessary season of transition as young adults grow into their own. Leaving behind societal expectations as they define the values by which they will choose to live their lives.
The issue is in the rushed solutions.
Because they are high achievers, there is a sense of obligation to be “successful.”
A belief that “I should be much further along in life and have things figured out by now” creates pressure to make a decision fast.
Pride (dare I say hubris) shows up as refusing to ask for or accept help. Embarrassment and possibly shame come up around admitting they don’t have it all figured out.
Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are not uncommon as it feels that no one understands the struggle and it’s only happening to them.
To silence the internal turmoil, the solution is to borrow 6-figures of student loan debt for a career that they are misinformed about and unsure of.
How awful it is to complete years of school and grueling training only to realize, this isn’t what you want. Then feel financially obligated to stay.
STOP & REDIRECT
Stop striving. Stop trying. Stop proving. And Redirect your attention to other areas of your life:
- Grow in faith – How is your spiritual life? Where there is a crisis, there is an opportunity to grow closer to the creator. Trust in a higher power to do something beautiful with the internal chaos. Use this time to grow in your relationship with God and discover your identity.
- Financial reset – If money has been a struggle, now is a great time to grow in financial wisdom. Instead of 27+ months of graduate school, what if that time were used to – reduced living expenses while continuing FT work? How much debt could you knock out? How much money could you save? What would life be like if you were debt free with a steady income and a fully stocked emergency fund?
- Healthy Living – Mental health to address the crisis and any underlying, unresolved issues. Physical fitness helps manage the crisis and release built-up frustrations. Nutritional health for well-being: our diet greatly affects how we feel, after all, more than 90% of serotonin is located in the gut.
- Explore passions – Stop trying to follow the checkboxes of what society says you’re supposed to do and have by a certain age. Instead, ask yourself what you want, what are your interests/passions/likes/desires, and what is the grand vision for your life. Write it down and begin to explore it. *Remember no one has to see this, it’s for you.
- Community – Don’t do this alone. The people in your life matter. Be surrounded by those who align with your values and where you want to be. *Caution- community/tribe are people to confide in and support you through the seasons of life, not to dictate your next steps for you.
Personal experience has taught me that attempts to stifle this season of growth don’t end well. It resurfaces later on in the form of burnout, overwhelm, and feeling stuck.
We are not defined by our degrees, careers, or accomplishments. That is all external and fleeting. The calm being sought during the quarter-life crisis is in stillness- where the gifts of identity, grace, pace, and direction are found.
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