What’s a Quarter Life Crisis?
I had never heard of a quarter life crisis until after the term cubicle life crisis was created (by me). While there are obvious similarities between these “stages of life”, to me there is also a lot that differentiates them if you read between the lines.
According to Wikipedia, a quarter life crisis is defined as “a period of life usually ranging from the early twenties to the mid-twenties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult.”
The gist of a quarter life crisis is that it involves young adults, and the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with transitioning to a fully independent adult. Typically people that experience a quarter life crisis have difficulty obtaining financial independence from parents, starting families earlier in life, and have deep questions regarding their chosen path in life. Quarter life crisis sufferers question the decisions they have made to that point in their life. They wonder if what they’re doing has meaning, and so on.
A quarter life crisis is a little more specific than the cubicle version. By definition, a quarter life crisis happens in a relatively narrow age gap and focuses on the inability to ‘grow up’ and become a responsible adult in society’s eyes. This is a fairly common thing that most people go through but don’t really talk about. Our parents and grandparents probably went through similar emotions. It’s a coming-of-age type process. What am I doing, where am I going etc.
Enter the Cubicle Life Crisis
This is a relatively new phenomenon. In the last couple of decades, there has been an explosion of cubicles or “work stations” in corporate America. More people are being stuffed in office environments as manufacturing jobs decline. With this change comes an increase in corporate politics and political correctness. It also means we’re spending more time sitting on our rears. Man was not meant to sit at a desk for 40-60 hrs / week staring at a computer while trying not to “rock the boat”.
While the aforementioned evolution in the working environment has benefits, it also makes it difficult for energetic, creative, and outgoing individuals to express themselves and lead fulfilling lives. Inherently, trying to be a good corporate employee often means stifling these traits.
Given these circumstances, this means a cubicle life crisis can strike someone at any age. An older, well established adult may peak up from their cube one day like a gopher from its hole and have a panic attack as they realize they’ve spent their entire working life stuffed in the human equivalent of a sardine tin. A cubicle life crisis sufferer may have a successful career by all accounts, but is unhappy and unfulfilled with their work and path in life.
Battle between Real Life and Corporate Life
Real life and corporate life are diametrically opposed, and this is the heart of the matter. This is where the cubicle life crisis stems from. The job description sounds great on paper, the pay and benefits look good, but when you settle into the job you realize how unfulfilling it is. Your life becomes a dull routine that fails to challenge or excite. You sit in a cube and look at spreadsheets, take phone calls, sit on conference calls etc.
The only challenge is peeling your butt out of bed each morning to drive to the office. Feeling like this day-after-day eventually sucks the life out of you. You start to yearn for more as you realize there is more to life. Once that yearning starts, the crisis sets in.
Sufferers feel the need to break free from the office and utilize the body and mind the way nature intended — by doing meaningful and challenging work, being social outside of a corporate / political environment, creatively solving problems, learning new skills, traveling, and so on.
These people just want to feel free. They want more control over what they do and where they do it. They want to be busy and engaged in creative, fulfilling matters rather than fretting over powerpoint presentations and e-mail formalities. They don’t mind working hard and putting in long hours, as long as that work matters.
How Do We Beat The Crisis?
Moving past this crisis is what this site is all about. As such, there are (and will be) numerous posts revolving around these topics and how to start a new life.
That said, the cliff notes version is:
- Become financially independent so you can do what you want with your life
- Learn new skills that are challenging, rewarding, and fun (outside of work)
- Set short-term goals that keep you going
- Start challenging the status quo at work, and get others on your team
- Last but not least, actively start designing the life that you want to live
Ultimately, re-designing your life is a long road that takes commitment and planning. However, it CAN be done. You just have to plan accordingly and keep your chin up. It’s tough, but completely worth it in the end. This blog will help guide and encourage you. Keep reading, stay committed, get engaged, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
Hopefully you can find some solace in the fact that you are not alone. Millions of people think and feel these same things.
Always remember — this does not have to be your permanent life. There are ways to move forward and make positive changes. I’m here to help, so let’s start the journey.