Mostly everyone has heard of a midlife crisis, but until recently I thought realizing that you were almost halfway through your life was the only named crisis-worthy life event. As I get closer and closer to graduation, I’ve started feeling more and more panicked and less and less like ever getting out of bed. The title for this, I’ve found, is called a quarter life crisis.
It might seem a little melodramatic to give 20 somethings their own crisis, but the fact is, this a really stressful part of a person’s life. This is a time full of change and big life decisions, and for an awkward girl like me, it feels like a crisis. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, so I wanted to share some tips that I’ve found for not just surviving but thriving in this difficult time.
1. PLAN. One of the most stressful parts of the last few months before graduation for me is all the uncertainty. I’m applying for jobs but I don’t know when I’ll get one or where I’ll be in the next year, let alone five. For the last four years of my life, I’ve known where I would be and what, in general, I would be doing. Now I have no idea.
To avoid panicking, I like to focus on things that I can plan. Whether it’s a weekend event or when I’m going to do my work, having plans makes me feel less like everything is wibbly wobbly.
2. RELAX. Find a healthy way to calm yourself down. Personally, I’ve recently started doing Yoga regularly to keep myself feeling chill. I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise (in fact my feelings about the awkwardness of gyms would be a whole other article), but many people find that it helps them focus on something other than their life stress. I’ve definitely found that in the meditation and breathing practices of yoga.
Your stress relief method doesn’t have to be exercise related at all, however. It could be art or music or going for a drive, but whatever you choose, make it a regular part of your schedule. Your body and mind will thank you for the moment of peace.
3. REWARD YOURSELF. If you have something you don’t want to do but you need to get done, set up a reward system. Let yourself watch an episode of something you love on Netflix if you finish your paper or apply to a couple jobs. Get a snack if you get ahead on your work. When the motivation just isn’t there (let’s call it senioritis, perhaps), give yourself a reason to keep working.
You have to be careful with this one, though. Make sure you aren’t just letting yourself have rewards and not getting anywhere. I know that it’s easy for me to make one episode on Netflix turn into three episodes and a nap and then my reward is just more procrastination than anything else.
4. TALK ABOUT IT. There are tons of other people feeling like you, and pretending that everything is fine is silly. Don’t try to hide from the fear and stress you feel. You are overwhelmed, so own it. Rant to your friends and let them rant as well.
Share so that you don’t feel alone but don’t dwell. Talk to those who made it through their quarter life crises and know that it will get better. You’ll get used to the change and stress. Life is going to throw you some curveballs but you’ll make it through.
5. CELEBRATE. Good things will happen even though you feel like everything is challenging and stressful. When those things happen, don’t just skim over them, celebrate them. It’s easy, when you are feeling stressed, to stop noticing all the good things in your life, especially the things you do well.
Celebrate even the little things. Let yourself be happy about the days when the weather is good and when you get something particularly yummy for lunch. You might feel like you’re in crisis mode, I feel that most days, but this is all pretty normal and you’re going to be ok. I will be too.
Originally published in “The Setonian.”