There was a time when a life crisis was only something for men with the first gray hair. Today, however, such phases are already widespread among 20 and 30-year-olds. Why that is, what we can do about it and why it is easier to change today than ever before.
You are in the middle of life, your education is behind you and you have a secure job. Perhaps you will graduate from school or you are already in the middle of your studies. No matter what point in your life you are at. You may be wondering where the journey in your life should actually go. Whether what you’ve done so far, what you’re doing and what you’re planning is really the right thing to do.
These self-doubts aren’t bad, they’re pretty normal. Sooner or later they will overtake each of us. One seldom, the other often. While these crises of meaning used to be located in the middle of life (the midlife crisis), they can be observed much earlier today.
Self-doubt even at a young age
One reason for this may be social change. While our parents and grandparents didn’t have the opportunity to do so, today we can reinvent ourselves almost at any time. The social networks of the state often protect us from hunger, give us a roof over our heads and provide us with the essentials. As a result, choosing a different path in life is nowhere near as risky as it used to be.
We also live in a world that is changing very quickly. Technization ensures that entire professions disappear, new ones emerge and it is difficult to keep up to date. So it’s not surprising that we sometimes ask ourselves whether we are still “up to date” with our path in life.
Abby Wilner and Alexandra Robbins made it public at the end of the 90s that these doubts also occur among young people today. In their book “Quarterlife Crisis: The Meaning Crisis of the Twenties” they describe the symptoms that a life crisis can already make between 21-29 years. They are very similar to those of the well-known midlife crises.
Signs of a crisis of meaning
- Fear of the future and what is to come
- Dissatisfaction with the current situation
- Loneliness and a fluctuating mood
- The feeling that others are better or more successful
The symptoms of a life crisis are not clearly defined. The transitions to depression or the like are often fluid.
How a life crisis arises
When a life crisis arise, one of our first thoughts is often that something is wrong with us. Most of the time we are healthy, have a roof over our heads and do not have to go hungry. We may also have a job or at least make ends meet. So why should we be bad? We have no right to do so.
From a purely objective point of view, these doubts are thoroughly rational. Because the path in your life, which you have taken at some point, is based on decisions in the past. For example, you chose a specific course of study based on your parents’ professions. Or you have chosen a professional path that coincides with a previous hobby of yours.
Today, however, that may no longer be the case. You haven’t pursued your previous hobby for a long time, the job no longer fulfills you. Studying is not fun or you simply lack variety in everyday life.
The reason for this is the elapsed time. You have grown older and more mature. Your character has sharpened, your friends and interests have probably changed. There is nothing wrong with this. It would be far stranger if it weren’t for that.
Accept the changes in life
While the fact that we are constantly changing is normal, many people find it difficult to accept it. For instance, they do not want to believe that they no longer get along with their friends from before or that they no longer enjoy their job. Therefore, often people are persuaded that this is only a phase and that everything will work out again.
This basically positive attitude is of course a good thing. However, if you put these thoughts off for a long time, it becomes difficult. You probably know people who have complained about their job or their life for years, but don’t change anything. Perhaps you are one of them yourself, but you came across us looking for a way out.
You have evolved, not changed
To change means first of all to accept that you and your environment are no longer the same as they were before. Just think about it for a moment. What has happened since then, when you went certain ways? Are you perhaps traveling in different circles today than before? Did you educate yourself? Are you now in a committed relationship? Or have you even witnessed bad events?
If you honestly answer such questions for yourself, you will quickly understand for yourself why you see things differently today. Perhaps you have developed differently than your friends compared to before. Maybe you found math exciting at school, but are more of the creative type today. It is then completely logical that you feel uncomfortable.
Memorize this knowledge well. Because moments like this when you question everything in life will come even more often. You just have to admit them to yourself and actively deal with them. If you don’t do this, you face an unsatisfied and bitter life.
Evaluate the life crisis
Now that you know that it is normal that you would do certain things differently today, it is time to assess the current situation. It’s no longer who you used to be, but who you are today. The past time will not come again.
What are you today What do you enjoy, with whom and what do you feel comfortable with? As simple as these questions may sound, they are often not easy to answer. Some of us have never asked ourselves that exactly, others may not have asked ourselves for a long time.
You should urgently avoid the second variant. Far too often we live our daily routine without questioning our lives. Although we are often not happy, we just keep going and hope that everything will work out again at some point. Unfortunately, that happens very rarely. Therefore, ask yourself the question regularly:
“Is the path I chose yesterday still the right one today?”
If you feel unhappy about the current path in life, just wait a while (maybe half a year) to see whether your condition improves. Often it is just a brief feeling of dissatisfaction that eventually disappears, and not a real life crisis. This can be, for example, in the exam phase or when it is more stressful than usual at work.
However, if the feeling persists, look for an alternative route. Life is too short to accept a status quo that doesn’t make you happy.
Look ahead with confidence
Our lifespan is limited. The time that lies ahead is getting a little shorter with every second. There is no unlimited amount of time for your wishes, dreams and visions. Therefore, make it clear that it is all about your life and that you have the right to shape it according to your passion.
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist“
Free yourself from any compulsions that may exist to actually do things only because they are expected of you. At some point the moment will come when you will look back on your life. It is quite possible that a large part of the people you wanted to please will no longer be alive by then.
If you haven’t done it yet: Start by always thinking about yourself and your wishes first. You can learn the necessary self-confidence for this.
Strategically plan the new way of life
Even if it often doesn’t hurt to make spontaneous decisions, you should plan a new life path as well as possible. Depending on the area in which you want to change, it can look very different, as the following examples show.
Example 1: Change your career
If you think your current job is triggering your life crisis, you have several options. When you already have ideas about which professions you are interested in, you can read job advertisements directly and apply. Even if you lack one or the other qualification for this, that doesn’t mean anything. Some jobs can also be learned at work, so that an application often doesn’t hurt.
But if you are not quite sure which job suits you, you have to proceed differently. In this case it can be interesting to be inspired by the multitude of professional fields available.
Before starting a new job, however, you should ask yourself where the bad feeling is coming from. Is it really the job itself or just what your job currently looks like? If the last one is more likely, a conversation with the boss can sometimes help. Perhaps with his help a solution can be found that both sides benefit from. If that doesn’t work, changing employers can sometimes work wonders.
Example 2: New paths in school, study and training
If you are still in school and you are after the “why?” ask, let us tell you one thing. You’re not alone. Most of man used to feel that way, including us. Even if it is difficult: do everything in your power to leave school with a degree. A missing school leaving certificate can cause you more problems later than you can imagine today. If you have problems with the subject matter, talk to your parents, take advantage of tutoring or the Internet.
It is possible that you have already graduated from school and you are not feeling well in your studies or training. In this case, you should weigh up. If the end of your studies or your apprenticeship is still far ahead of you and you are sure that you are on the wrong track, nothing speaks against another path. Don’t waste time doing something that has made you unhappy for a long time. However, if the end is already in sight (e.g. because more than half of it is behind you), you should try to finish the whole thing anyway. In the end, you may have a degree that you will no longer use, but you have something in your pocket. There is a good chance that your degree will come in very handy to you at some point in life.
Example 3: Start your own business
Maybe you have a great idea for a product. Or you just want to be your own boss and manage the time you work yourself. Regardless of the reason that drives you, a leap into self-employment is great, but should be carefully considered.
It is not enough to make money for a living. Costs for health insurance, taxes and commercial insurance must also be taken into account. Therefore, consider whether you might be able to start up a business alongside your job.
Example 4: Live a healthier life
Do you want to finally get rid of unnecessary fat or get fitter? It’s never too late for that. If you’ve never managed to change yourself in this way, you should take it slow.
First, you should focus on nutrition, which is 80% of success. Set small but clearly defined goals, such as losing 1 pound a month. You usually don’t have to do much to do this. For example, avoid sweets during the week. Or replace one meal a day (e.g. the bread roll from the bakery) with a healthy alternative (e.g. muesli). After that, you can slowly venture towards bigger goals.
The same goes for sport: start slowly. You don’t have to run or go to the gym five times a week overnight. One or two times can be enough at the beginning. It is important that you start at all and stay motivated.
Use the life crisis for yourself
Last but not least, we would like to give you some well-intentioned advice along the way. You probably ended up here because you are dissatisfied with your current situation and want to change something. Because you are unhappy and keep wondering whether that’s supposed to be all.
What you shouldn’t do now!
Don’t push these thoughts too far away. Don’t shirk a decision that should have been made a long time ago.
What should you do now!
Hold on to your desire for change and don’t keep putting off this plan. If something doesn’t make you happy for a long time, you have to take action yourself. Nothing will change by itself. Therefore, it is best to take the time to think about yourself and your future as soon as possible. Think about alternatives, weigh them up against each other and take action.
It is always possible to change. You only have one life and you should do everything you can to live it so that you are happy.
Did you enjoy this page?