Quarter Life Crisis Or Quarter Life Opportunity?

We hear a lot about the “mid life crisis” and more recently, as people my age are having a harder time finding work, the “quarter life crisis.”

Older generations might scoff at the idea of this “quarter life crisis.” After all, they say, what do young people like me have to worry about?

The truth is: a lot.

I would argue that people who are 25 like me (or slightly younger or older) have quite a bit to be concerned about these days.

Not only does this age group encompass recent college graduates, but they also include people who want to get married soon or are newlyweds. It includes people who, just a few years ago, were dependent on parents but who are now trying hard to be independent. Many of us are putting off getting married until our careers are secure. We are putting off having children until we are “really sure” we can actually afford them. We don’t know when we will be laid off. Or, worse, we don’t know when we’ll ever get a job. We’ve had to move back in with parents, and we’ve had to pay back astounding amounts of student debt.

Then, to make it worse, the world stereotypes our generation. They call us lazy, unfocused, and materialistic.

The truth is, the world has changed dramatically in the past few years. No longer do the normal “rules” apply. Our generation is creative, resourceful, and more determined than ever to fight our way through troubling times. We might do things differently both at home and in the workplace. Yet, we also have good ideas, and we are striving to be heard.

I would like to encourage people my age to see this not as a quarter life crisis but a quater life opportunity. Here is what I think would make us, as a generation, stronger:

1. Work hard, harder than you ever thought possible. Take on side gigs. Make extra money. Fight the recession by finding unique ways to support yourself. Think outside the box. Don’t feel constricted by the traditional 9-5 job. It’s not the only way to attain success.

2. Along that same line, don’t be lazy. Don’t let the stereotypes be true. Use technology but understand that technology doesn’t necessarily have all the answers. When you don’t know something, look it up with a reliable source. Realize the world is not like buying things online. Sometimes, results don’t happen quickly or the way we want them to. Expecting instant gratification both in work and in your personal life will lead to unhappiness. Nothing worthwhile comes easy.

3. Take the time to understand your strengths. You can do this by being introspective but also by taking quick assessments like the Strengths Finder, a book my friend and colleague Andrea of the BrandKit company recently sent me. This particular assessment tells you your five greatest areas of strength and ensures that you don’t waste time pursuing careers or goals to which you are not naturally suited. It also places the emphasis on what you are good at, as opposed to you (or anyone else) pointing out your flaws. If you’re interested, my top five after taking the assessment are Achiever, Learner, Responsibility, Relator, and Intellection. Essentially, I have a strong desire to learn, and I can work longer than the average person without feeling tired. I have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability. I like to do what is right. Yet, I excel at my very best alone, without distraction. These are things, of course, that I have been aware of for quite some time, yet it’s always good to get affirmation.

4. Do the things that you want to do. Don’t go into a particular profession because your coach, your parents, or your friends think it will be respectable. Seek out the advice of others, sure, but ultimately the decision is yours. Be prepared for others not to support you at first and recognize they might not initially understand your vision.

5. Lastly, can we get over the materialism already? It is so exhausting to try to keep up with everyone else, and it’s no fun to feel like you are being crushed under a mountain of debt. Let’s focus on what matters. Don’t go extreme and wear pajamas every day or anything, but let’s try to make the world a better place instead of trying to buy things we can’t afford. Set up a budget. Stick to it as best you can, recognize you might make mistakes, and plan for the unexpected.

I truly believe that if we follow the above, this generation – our generation – can be what dreams are made of.

Remember, if anyone can it figure out, it’s us.

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford aka "Cat" is a personal finance freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. To learn more about her writing services, please visit her Hire Me page or e-mail her at Cat[at]BudgetBlonde[dot]com. Follow her on Google + to get all the latest updates.

Lovely comments:

  1. Oh my friend… you always say things just so.
    And you couldn’t be MORE right!!!
    Thank you for sending me the link to this.
    My life has settled itself just the way it is supposed to – and it’s funny, because my dad would look at me with this strange look on his face wondering WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR YOU?! (Especially these past few months.) But life isn’t the same as it was for my parents.
    Anyway – things do sort themselves out in the end. But the key is to keep your eye on YOUR goal. Not anyone else’s. To focus on happiness – inner deep down happiness. Don’t give up. And love life. Take in the small things. And appreciate every moment we’re give on this green earth!!
    Thanks sweet lady for sending this my way!

  2. I have to laugh, because pretty much every generation has been labeled this by whatever generation is older. I’m part of gen x, and in the early 90’s it was the same thing for us. And I hate to say it, but I’m in my 40’s and we are struggling just as much as the “younger generation.” We are all fighting for the same jobs now because while we have the experience, we cost more. You don’t have the experience, but cost less. It’s a struggle for everyone! I do like your attitude about motivating your generation though!

    • No I think that is a great point, haha. It’s always great to hear other perspectives and know that we’re not the only ones to be labeled in this way!

  3. Generation labels are always overgeneralized. I think every generation is the same. Some people work hard, some are lazy. Labeling an entire generation as lazy and incompetant is just bad analysis.

    I like your 5 points, they are great ways to ensure you don’t get caught up in the hype. The bad thing about telling people that they are lazy is that you can drill it into their head so much that they end up being that way. It’s really not a great way to motivate them to get up and do something. But on the other hand, we should also not just be all light and fluffy and say that everything everyone does is the most perfect, amazing thing to ever have been done. That just enables.

    So it’s about finding a balance. But all in all, it comes down to a personal choice to get up, work hard, and pursue something you believe in.

  4. Definitely change the mindset from crisis to opportunity! The advantage of a typical 25 year old is that they will live 10 years longer than the typical 35 year old!

    You’ve got to wonder about why there are such stereotypes about Gen Y though. Why do you think? I’ve got a long post in the queue about the subject on FS. It’s kinda perplexing. “I quit my start up because it felt too much like work”….. ummmmmmmmmm, uhhh.

    S

    • Haha, I don’t have the answer to why we are perceived in that way although I’m sure there are many articles on the topic. I do know that I’m not quitting my little start up right here if that’s any indication! :))

  5. Cat, I think you’re 100% on to something here. There are many people out there who are scared to death to make that leap from kid to adult. And that’s a shame because (in my opinion thanks to technology) there is more opportunity than ever to do things more customized to your lifestyle than ever before.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Technology has done so much for me, and I want others to know that they can make their own futures!

  6. Quarter life should definitely be viewed as an opportunity. At this time, you’re developing the skills to launch your career or give you the experience to get into a solid grad school. I still consider 24 to the greatest year of my life.

    As far as the stereotype, I employ interns in their lower 20s and I’ve seen it all. Some have absolutely zero desire to work while others have been working since they were 16 and strive to excel. I think it all depends on the influence of the parent.

  7. Wow this was beautifully written and very eloquently put. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Our generation was told by our parents to “go to college and get a degree” and everything else would fall into place. It’s just not the case anymore. The global economy has changed all that, and a liberal arts degree from a four-year university simply doesn’t justify the price of admission. It’s all about specializing and innovating.

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  1. [...] your lost life or see it as an opportunity to seize something better. That’s why I liked “Quarter Life Crisis Or Quarter Life Opportunity?” by Budget Blonde.  She’s not going down without a [...]

  2. […] Interestingly enough, the more staff writer jobs I got, the more I realized I’d missed my calling. Soon, I became aware that I wasn’t having a quarter life crisis at all. I was actually having a quarter life opportunity. […]

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