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Smiling Through My Life Quarter-Life Crisis: Advice for Twenty and Thirty-Somethings

Practical, meaningful advice for twenty and thirty-somethings who are just trying to find their place in the world.

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I’ve experienced a quarter-life crisis or two over the last few years. Sounds dramatic, I know, but soul-searching has been top of mind for me for a while now. I’ve found myself overwhelmed by questions about my identity, career, passions, purpose, sense of fulfillment, relationships, friendships, and future.

A few examples…

Did I choose the wrong major in college? Is my job fulfilling? Am I on a steady path to building a solid and healthy career? What am I passionate about? What’s my purpose? Am I making enough time for my significant other? Am I good a friend? Do I still have friends? What the hell am I doing?

The truth is, thoughts like these are completely normal. Many people experience at least one quarter-life crisis or wakeup call between their twenties and thirties. Despite the normalcy of these dilemmas, if you’re anything like me, a quarter-life crisis might cause you to feel anxious, stressed, mentally-drained, and/or overwhelmed.

Inspired by my distress, I did what I do best and started writing to make sense of my thoughts. I realized I was in dire need of some advice, so I wrote a post on LinkedIn asking, “What would you tell your 25-year-old self if you had the chance? What do you wish you had known when you were in your early 20s?”

Here are some of my favorite, most notable pieces of advice from the post to help you endure and overcome your quarter-life crisis:

When you start to panic because you don’t have every part of your life figured out…

Stop planning so much. You can’t predict the future.” -Kyle Elliott

Be patient, give grace, stick to your core values, know your core values, get up and take a walk, never stop learning and never burn a bridge.” -Cameron Ericksen

To have patience…It’s not about where you end up…Life is about the journey! Embrace it!” -Shawn McCarty

When self-doubt sinks in and you need a boost…

…everyone has the same worries, fears, and concerns to varying degrees, whether they are 25, 40, or 60. So, just do whatever it is you’re afraid to do and try it now!” -David O’Neill

You are smart, kind and beautiful. Don’t underestimate yourself!” -Esther Adamson

Believe in yourself. Don’t buy into self-doubt. Constantly challenge your comfort zone: in knowledge, in life & career and in the way you relate to others.” -Maria M. Simon

I’d tell myself to stop caring about what other people think of me and lean into who I am.” -MaryBeth Hyland

When you feel confined to your degree and CV…

You are not a failure because you didn’t get a job in your field of study like all your friends did. You will provide value for a living in another way, and you will love doing it.” -Tom Bartlett

Your degree or CV doesn’t determine how capable you are. Just believe in yourself.” -Bhagysashree U.

For when you’re feeling stressed…

I would go back in time and tell myself not to sweat the small stuff. There truly was a lot of small stuff. Self-doubt. Insecurities. Fear of failure. Putting up with BS.” -Jennifer Adams-Buckhouse

It will all work out. Take the time to breathe, enjoy, and take it in.” -Jill Katz

Don’t stress over small things. They don’t matter in the long run.” -Priyanka Singhal

When thinking about your career…

Don’t waste one day in a job where you do not feel rewarded or appreciated. All jobs have bad days, but at the right place under the right leader you will always feel rewarded and appreciated.” -Gregory Auger

Don’t stress about your career. Look around and realize what you love is indeed your calling, and you don’t have to search for an office job just because that’s what you were taught to expect.” -Elizabeth Harr

When it comes to finding your dream job, try everything. You won’t enjoy some of it, but enjoy making mistakes, they are lessons in disguise.” -Tom Bartlett

When promoting self-care…

Know when to let go of toxic relationships with friends and family hindering your happiness and success.” -C Wilson

Love yourself, live like there is no tomorrow and appreciate others.” -Dominika Weston

Don’t try QUITE so hard to please everyone else if those actions prove detrimental to yourself and your own pursuit of happiness.” -Nicole Duxbury

You are going to experience darkness in your life. But it is going to get dark, and you are going to have to just go through the darkness to light. Make sure you have a strong support system.” -Christopher Cobb

When thinking about your finances…

Contribute as much as possible to your retirement account, because you will never be 25 again, and your investment in yourself when you are older will repay you when you are in your retirement (or semi-retired!)” -Gina Kotz

Put more money in your 401K.” -Amy King

Be more frugal with your money.” -Sean Lynott

When thinking about traveling…

The modern construct of money is a façade that cannot hide experiences.” -Simon Ware

Travel. As much and as often as you can. Explore the world and all its cultures. It will make you a better person.” -Tiffany N. Trott

There you have it. If you take anything away from this post, I hope you’ll always remember that you are not alone. Think of a quarter-life crisis as a beautiful period of transformation. You might not be able to answer all of your soul-searching questions immediately, but be patient, because, on the other side of all the soul-searching, stress-induced panic is a journey you’ll be proud of.

For more life advice, check out the original LinkedIn post that inspired me here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6381283687828385792

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