How to Handle a Quarter-Life Crisis

I have had a hard time putting anything of purpose together for a week now. I took my camera out, enjoyed Memorial Day with it at Sherwood Island in Westport, did the family picnic thing, and went out for the normal bar nights with no spark of inspiration anywhere. Despite the good times I had and the equally impressive photos I took, these things will mostly be stored as another memory for the record book, because my writer’s block still was not able to have been broken by beautiful Weeping Willows, Long Island Sound… nature, people or a good time.

I wanted to bring you more. I, personally, wanted to be happy and fully satisfied with the post following my writer’s block rant last week. The comments on remedies to relieve writer’s block helped so much and I appreciated the feedback knowing people cared, or at least because they, too, have been through this all before.

Where I got my thinking on

I saw a friend yesterday afternoon who gives me the much-needed foot-straight-in-your-ass advice. This time it actually broke the skin.

On June 22nd, yours truly is going to hit the quarter century mark, and let me tell you honestly about the struggle it has been for me to accept this. I am truly upset about turning 25 years-old. I guess it has weighed heavy on me since the weather got warm.

I sit on my computer and I write… a lot. I have all these big ideas but where do those ideas go after a while?  What the hell have I accomplished? Where am I going? I live by the day, by the weekend, by the summer months that promise parties, concerts, or anything with the equation: youth + warm weather + good friends = the best part of life. It is, in a sense.

Fooling around at Captain’s Cove Seaport & Restaurant

Life is about these things, no? Youth included, only because we are capable of so much, both physically and with the capacities of our imagination. Life is also about the long run. Yeah, the… long run. So after talking to my friend on that post-Memorial Day afternoon, something just clicked. I may be considered young to so many people, but in retrospect the days are getting shorter for us all, and I, unestablished in any true 9-5 work-related way, am no exception.

Instead of dwelling in all of my shortcomings, I want to do my best at making the days and weeks before the big 2-5 as proactive as possible- accomplishing the little things that big kids do to find a smooth transition between the very separate world of youth and older-adult-ladyhood.

So I made a list. There is a certain glory in lists that people either overlook or embrace as much as I do. Not only do I swear to complete my Life List, but I make much smaller lists all the time: to-do’s, what to pick up at the mall, things I have to do by the weekend… blog topics.

So here is another, but this is the only list I will ever make of its kind. This list is special in that I see it as both depressing and motivating. This list will slingshot me into mid-June, when I become old enough to rent a car in all 50 U.S. States, but I can no longer audition for the Real World.

Three things I need to accomplish by June 22nd

1. Find a publisher. I wrote a poem well over a year ago for someone and rediscovered it a couple of months back. I extended the poem, which is about a mischievous dog, and turned it into a really fun and quirky children’s book. This is also part of my Life List, but completely jumping into this adventure by searching for a publisher of children’s books is a nice balance as I walk into adulthood. 

2. Put my résumé out to real jobs. Sure, I have a job. Sure, I freelance. Sure, I blog and write all the time. If I am going to make it through 25 years-old and into the abyss of adulthood, I need to get my ass in an office chair- err, well, a really cool, down-to-earth office chair. The 4×4 cubicle is not where I see my life, but if I can reason that putting my résumé out there to places that I have always wanted my creative energy to end up, (magazines!) then that does not seem so bad. No more excuses.

3. Balance out my social life. This is going to be a tough one, but I have over three weeks to start. Going out all the time is great and all but it is a huge burden on my wallet. I need to learn to take it easy with the bar-hopping and put money aside for the bigger picture, which is moving out. I spend money every day on things that are so useless. By my birthday, with the exception of that celebration (which I will be sure to make grandiose), I have to get into a healthier lifestyle where bars do not run my week. Hangovers are so 24 years-old. 


It might be a quarter life crisis
Or just the stirring in my soul

Either way I wonder sometimes
About the outcome
Of a still verdictless life

Am I living it right?

-John Mayer


How did you deal/will you deal with your quarter-century crisis?

(Because I really need to know!)

35 thoughts on “How to Handle a Quarter-Life Crisis

  1. OMG. Sarah- I have been feeling the same way for the past few months (well, past year, but more strongly the past few months). I’m turning 26 in August and thought this year (being 25) was going to be ALL THAT. So far, it has been less than desirable. I am a person of constant to-do lists and constantly planning my life and despite all my to-do’s and lists of goals I feel like I am standing still. I also feel like I have missed living in the moment b/c I’m so busy planning my life. That is one thing I think you do a lot better than some of us (at least me anyway). You live in the moment. You go and do things. You do live your life.

    Unfortunately I have no advice since I am going through the same thing, but I always keep in mind that it will get better. It’s so cliche, but everything happens for a reason. That keeps me going.

    If you find any good advice-let me know!

  2. Go, Sarah! Love the way you connected the dots with your writing funk and the birthday angst. And now, with your list, you’ll have plenty to write about! You’ve also struck a chord because significant birthdays occur throughout life (25, 30, 40, 50 … and beyond) and each one brings a time of questioning as we recognize that life is finite. Is this all there is? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Thanks for sharing the 1001 idea. Lots to inspire there! I look forward to following your progress.

  3. Sarah,
    The mid-twenty barrier is fast approaching you, and as someone who is about a year behind you I can only imagine your angst. I recently wrote a post called “In Between” and I shared a few quotes and pieces of advice that remind me that not having it “figured-out” is okay. Actually, it’s quite awesome! I applaud your goal setting (a children’s book!?), but if I were to give you one piece of advice it’s to stop stressing. Life is short (so depressing), so why spend the precious time we have racing to the finish line?

  4. You are feeling something we all go through- and unfortunately, there are more thought- and anxiety-provoking milestones ahead (turning 30, turning 35, and my personal favorite, the impending 38 and still no baby in my life!). I think it’s really cool that you’re embracing the knowledge that life keeps on rolling, and doing something positive to better yourself along the way. I will say that 25 seems like a distant memory to me now, and advise you to take advantage of the energy you’ve got and the adventures ahead of you!
    Love the lists- I started my own 101 in 1001 because of you and am tracking progress. Keep your chin up and allow yourself to feel the good, bad, scary, and exciting as you get closer to 25 (and 30, and… well, you know.)

  5. I want “to find a smooth transition between the very separate world of youth and older-adult-ladyhood” too. I’m only twenty-two but in a culture where most twenty one year-olds act maturely having stable jobs, I feel doomed. :/

  6. Hey chick,
    I really struggled with 25 as well – I seem to remember feeling pretty down in the lead up to my birthday (not helped by my then 30 year old boyfriend who was constantly saying “How do you think I feel?!”).
    At the end of the day, it’s just a number. But after I “went with the feelings” for a while, I realised that it was just the closing of one chapter. I dunno about you, but for me it was the same when I turned 13, except I was excited. I’d left childhood behind, and now I was a legit teenager. Looking back it was like I was leaving being a teen behind, and now I was really able to experience everything the world had to offer, without having to pay more for insurance, or being frowned upon coz I was only 21, or whatever.
    It does get better. Honestly, I can say that the best year of my life was 25. 26 was pretty crap :) but 25 and this year (27) have been pretty awesome. Enjoy the new chapter, my love :) xx

    1. The only thing I can remember of my 25th birthday was getting drunk as shrunk going bar 2 bar getting my birthday drinks thats it! =)

  7. OMG Sarah I turned 25 last 2 weeks, on 23rd May and I’ve been feeling down. I’m not PMS-ing, so initially I put the blame on my 2 modules/units (degree) as they re tough and suck the life out of me. Then it occurred to me, perhaps that’s not the only reason.

    Lately, I’ve been adding more and more things in my to-do list in life. I strongly feel the time is NOW. That’s impossible as I’ll only graduate December next year, which seems soooo far away. I’ve been asking what have I accomplished (similar to you!) and I really thought of doing more NOW.

    I guess my advise to you is plan meticulously and breathe babe, breathe.

    Saw this article last year..or last 2 years. Been keeping the bookmark. Have a read ;)

  8. I recognize the feeling. Had it for a very long time. I am afraid to say that I am now 27 and most of my questions, wonderings and ponderings are still not solved. :)

  9. If you think the approaching 25 is bad just wait until you are about to turn 35! I hope that by then your life is much better resolved than mine is at this point… where I am considering joining a convent.

  10. First off, we all struggle with writers block from time to time and it IS super frustrating and annoying. I feel ya bro. Here is what I find helps.

    About you feeling unaccomplished because you don’t have a 9-5, take it from me that does not always solve the problem. I couldn’t wait to have a “grown up” job, and now that I do, all I want is something different. Do what you enjoy and are passionate about. If you are dedicated enough, you can make a happy and sufficient living from it…. well I hope. This is what I am telling myself anyway. I really liked this post, I feel like I go through similar thoughts every other day!

  11. When I hit my Quarter life Crisis, I will still be in Post Secondary. I will be ridiculously in debt, most likely still juggling six different meds, and wondering why I spent four years trying to learn how to do something I’m not good at?
    I will most likely feel along the same lines… and I will probably do the thing I do all the time. Duck my head down, focus on something completely else, and pretend I’m still Five-going-on-fifty :P
    Sorry, really junky advice thing.
    I guess we all have to figure out our own things. I know when my Mom turned Fifty, she didn’t hit that freak out because I was too busy being the nerd I am going “WOW, you have lived for half a century, and look at all you’ve experienced/lived through! Cold War, Berlin Wall, Mt. Saint Helen’s, ect ect ect.”
    So… maybe that’s how to look at it. You are 25, and look at what you have seen in those years. This is the most fluctuating time, and you got to grow with it.

  12. By not having one :) I’m now 31 and still feel very young (probably because I am!) but it sounds like you are on the right track! The lists thing is a great place to start. I’ve heard that one of George Burn’s secret’s to longevity was that he always had something to do the next day and I think that’s a great attitude to carry through your life. I always like to have some sort of plan, and I like to stay flexible too – if things aren’t going great I can say ok so I don’t really like the way things are going, what can *I* do to make things better? What is in my power to turn things around for the better? Then I act on it! I also try to have little mini adventures every day – I guess that was one goal I set when I was about 24, so that could tie in with your quarter life theme ;) resolve to do something every day – even if it’s just a walk to the store, that can be an adventure, it’s all about perspective! Good luck <3

    1. I hope I always have something to do the next day. It’s hard to always be active, and never be bored for too long. Most things I want to do cost money, but the whole mini adventures thing you bring up is great… and so much inspiration can be gathered this way. Thank you!

  13. When I feel like I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to… I don’t write goals… I simply write a “To Do List” and put down all the things I’ve already done. Then I wait until the next day and cross everything off. Sure, it doesn’t spurn me on to do anything worthwhile… but, I have to tell you, I feel a whole LOT better about myself!

  14. Ah, transitions. If we don’t learn to negotiate them well, we’re in for a helluva ride. Life is all about transitions. They come like the waves in the sea. Wow! let me keep quiet. I’m beginning to sound moralistic.

  15. Ok, so I’ve read it all and all I can say is: I’m with you on this one! I can’t give you advice because I’m living it myself ~ sigh ~. I love how you made that list, and set yourself these goals. I think those 3 goals are a great start and very realistic.
    That’s actually what I’m doing at the moment. Writing down everything I value in life, everything I want to accomplish this year, next year and the year after (planning ahead any longer than that doesn’t make much sense I think..)

    Also, eventually, you’ll be fine ;-) turning 25 is just going to be another day that’s gonna go by and you’ll get back to your daily routine..I think the most important thing; at least for me – I’m now figuring out; is to make decisions from your heart and give whatever you want to do your best shot! Now is the time, I’ve been holding back at a lot of aspects of my life because of the fear of failing, so I never even started…. Now I’m still young so I should not tell myself I’m too old to make changes or start a new path in life… Now is the perfect time to just GO! and LIVE… less thinking more acting ;-) … at least that’s it for me!

    I hope this makes some sense, lol. It’s pretty late at night here in Holland so my brain needs to get some sleep ;-) Nightynight!

  16. I think 25 went by me without too much of a whimper, it was 20 and then 30 that caused me bigger problems. Something about round numbers, I guess. I recommend listening to really good music and spending time with someone you love (romantically or plutonicly). And while I’m all for the work life balance and I think you’ve set some great goals for yourself. Remember that the best way to feel young is to act young. Don’t take anything too seriously.

  17. Pingback: Quarter-life Crisis or Crescendo? | S. L. Writes
  18. I loved this post! I am 24 also, and turning 25 is definitely scary! 25 seems much more “adult” and SOUNDS significantly older then 24. I have an 8-5 and my goal IS to freelance and eventually open my own business. Trust me, the only thing exciting about an 8-5 is the paycheck! :D

  19. Happy 25th! I too reach my quarter-life birthday later this year, I’m tempted to use this post as a template for handling it should I ever get near the date and start to worry, but I’ll probably just party and that’ll be it :) x

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