Your Late 20s Are The Worst Because It’s One Big Quarter-Life Crisis

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Your Late 20s Are The Worst Because It's One Big Quarter-Life Crisis

You don’t have to look far to see the ongoing gen-y trend of stress and anxiety. It takes a simple trip over to Thought Catalog to read something called “What Living With Depression Is Honestly Like” or “7 Helpful Things To Know About Falling In Love With Someone Who Has Anxiety” to see that there are people legitimately making an honest living beating the dead horse that is their anxiety. Hell, I even did it myself by using my Sunday Scaries as a means to connect with readers (but hopefully in a less overwrought, desperate way).

Whether you’re a few years out of college or marching towards your thirtieth birthday, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to be stressed. You probably took a job you didn’t truly want after everything you heard about the job market. If you’re renting an apartment, you’re most likely stressing yourself out about how much you spend without having anything to show for it. But if you have a lease, you’re probably constantly bogged down by the stresses of maintenance, the housing market, and trying to figure out how the hell your gutters keep coming off the goddamn roof. If you’re single, you’re looking for the one. If you’re in a relationship, you either need to pull the trigger or get the hell outta dodge. And lord knows that none of us are saving enough despite the fact that we’re spending less than the generations before us.

Harvard Business Review and Happify combined to publish some research done surrounding exactly this topic, finding out that there’s a defined trend of when depression actually begins to set in during one’s lifespan. The study concluded that “the average age for the onset of depression has dropped from late forties or early fifties, where it was 30 years ago, to mid-twenties, and it’s expected to drop further.” The review itself reveals information regarding quarter-life crises, noting that there are four stages that you’re likely to go through.

It starts with a feeling of being locked in to a commitment at work or at home: people take on jobs, rent apartments, and enter relationships, but then feel trapped in pretend adulthood.


Adulting has become such a “thing” that Snapchat even made a fucking filter about it. Unfortunately, instead of “adulting” consisting of putting a down payment down on a home and getting your teeth cleaned every six months, it consists of making your own meals and doing your own laundry rather than taking it all to the cleaners. It’s been reduced to more of a joke than an actual step in life. I can confirm this sentiment because I’ve cooked two healthy meals at home for the last two nights running, and I officially feel like a human form of the word “responsibility.”

Then, at some point, they leave their romantic partners, jobs, or social groups and become separated and lonely.

My mother always told me, “Don’t break up with someone unless you’ve got someone else in mind.” That goes for jobs as well, because uncertainty is normally the root of most anxieties. What are you going to do once your lease is up? Is your significant other actually the one, or are you just tired of looking? Did you really buy a round of shots at that third bar the other night, or did they overcharge you because they knew you were fucked up? The more uncertainties you leave to the imagination, the more apt you are to feel the weight of the world come barrelling down on you.

Oh, and you probably bought those shots with the intention of everything “getting you back.” But no one got you back because, well, you were too fucked up.

They spend the worst part of this crisis reflecting and recalibrating their plans, alone and isolated, until eventually they go out and explore new hobbies, interests, and social groups, finally emerging at the other side of the crisis happier, more motivated, and with a greater sense of clarity.

This light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel approach to things from Harvard Business Review might seem a little la-di-da, but they do note that the quarter-life crisis process can repeat itself over years, so it’s not all smelling like roses after you switch jobs and ditch your deadbeat boyfriend. For a generation that would rather switch companies after a year instead of collecting a Rolex for forty years of service in the same building, it’s expected that you won’t have your Walter Mitty moment of clarity any time soon (or, you know, ever). But you can also seek some solace in that the younger you begin your emotional reeling, the longer you have in life to build up your psychological aging – you know, how to “learn to put things in perspective, believe in ourselves more, and realize that the emotions that sometimes pierce our chests are temporary and do not have to consume us.”

But if you’re not buying that, head to some generic website and read some unaccredited flat white-drinking 23-year-old’s column “Anxiety Is Never Silly Or Dramatic; It’s A Disease” to know that you are not, in fact, alone.

[via Harvard Business Review]

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