Quarter Life Crisis Guest Post – Natalia Lukaszewicz

Natalia Lukaszewicz is a resident of New Zealand where she runs a food blog called www.applesandanarchy.wordpress.com and interns for www.goodfoodgame.co.nz

Here Natalia shares the story of how she overcame her quarter life crisis by planting veg, dancing to Elvis and embracing uncertainty.


On a sunny weekend in September 2012, I drove to a plant shop and walked out armed with two bags of soil, plant pots and nine assorted vegetable seedlings. My parents had left me alone that weekend, albeit reluctantly. And understandably so, given my being at home at the time was a result of an aching sadness and debilitating anxiety that had set in some 4 months prior, and most days, I dreaded the thought of being alone with my thoughts. My buying those vegetables marked the first day of my recovery from what I might jokingly refer to now as a Quarter Life Crisis, but at the time felt like a very real – and scary – decent into overwhelming uncertainty.

In 2012 I was 24, and it was the year I had returned from travelling overseas in order to begin my postgraduate studies in Clinical Psychology. I moved to a new city, not knowing a soul, but I had romanticised the place and my future there: In my head there would be parties, my studies would inspire me, and I would be lost in a whirlwind of new people and experiences. But instead I wound up alone, disenchanted with my degree, and the city I had thought would bring me All The Things broke my heart.

I remember a moment in which I sat staring out the window. My hair clung to my cheeks, which were sticky from tears. My hands gripped a cold cup of tea and outside a ferocious wind howled. Were it a movie, I imagine the scene would be somewhat romantic and poignant – black and white, perhaps – but in reality, I felt pathetic, sad and horribly lonely. What do I do now, what do I do now, what do I do now?

This singular question was the cause of so much of my anguish: why did I feel so uncertain when I had been promised a linear path to success (and so, I assumed, happiness) so long as I ticked the boxes (go to uni. Get A’s. Make contacts. Move forward). What do I do now? I don’t know, became a chant that mocked my days: it taunted me when I was made to answer, “what are you up to these days?” and when I was confronted with everyone else’s happy, filtered faces on Facebook. The world started to seem to me a dark and broken place, and where once I had dreamed of ways of trying to fix it, I now felt broken myself.

The day I planted my first courgette was the day I gave myself the license to be ok with not knowing what was meant to happen. It seems a simple solution, but for someone who had announced how she planned to retire at the age of 15, this was a revolutionary and liberating move. I decided that I might know diddly about what or how my week would progress (let alone the coming year); but I knew that the tomatoes needed to be planted at a depth of 15cm, and that the coriander liked the shade. And maybe that was all I needed to know in that moment.

Summer rolled in and the sun drenched my garden- it blossomed and grew and I relished the fat strawberries that came as a result. And I grew too: with certainty that not knowing has the potential to be as great as specificity, and with confidence in my ability to navigate doubt. The people I have met, stories and opportunities that have accumulated since are testimony to this growth. There are days that all I know is that I have friends, family and a cat who loves me, and that dancing to Elvis songs makes me happy. And I have to – and I do! – believe that that is enough.

If you’ll allow me to take up the position for a moment as someone who can share advice – or at least an opinion – on managing impending Quarter Life Crises, then I have this to say: please don’t be afraid of uncertainty, and embrace change if it comes, whether that be changing your dreams, goals or ideas about who you are as a person. It really, truly, will be ok in the end.


AUDIO: What people wish they’d known before they turned 25

Twenty five is a BIG one. You’re half way through your twenties and elderly relatives might start asking you who you’re going to marry. Or why you’re still working at the pub and haven’t finished your MA yet. Or why you’re still living in your parents’ basement.



 But don’t listen to your relatives and family friends, listen to these savvy 25+ folks who told us what they wish they’d known before they got half way to 30. ENJOY!

Once you’ve listened to the Soundcloud, let us know what advice you’d give to the under-25s. Tweet us your suggestions at @QLClueless or post them here below!

Note: The song featured in the audio, ‘I’m only twenty’ by Sonny Shotz, can be found here should you want to listen right the way through. (SPOILER: He’s still only twenty at the end)

Quarter Life in the media: what’s being said about it in the news?


Spring is (sort of) here and we want to be outside which means it’s even harder to keep up with the news since we wrote last month’s ‘top 3 QLC articles’. There’s just SO MUCH of it everywhere. And lately we’ve been spotting a lot of intriguing media coverage of the quarter life crisis in all its different forms.

But you don’t have to go trawling through all the weekend supplements, blogs and magazines because we’re gathering the best stuff right here at QLClueless. There’ll be new material each month so come and see what we’ve found in the world of QLC.

Top 3 things you should read this month (Spring QLC Special)

1) This account of being 25 and ‘stuck’ by  ‘black feminist writer and PHD candidate’ J.N Salters  is our favourite QLC piece of the week. This  Huffington Post article is a brilliant insight into exactly how a QLC-addled mind works:



What we learnt: That we should probably check out these books that Salters talks about.

Here’s the YouTube video of Christensen doing a TED talk. You’ll have so many attainable goals after this video that you’ll need a….(insert football pun here)

Actually, we’ve read the third one (Damian Barr) and after reading our crazy-good QLClueless interview with the author himself, you probably have too….


2) It’s not new (2013 in fact) but we think it’s time to pleasure our ears again with BBC Radio 4′s brilliant analysis of the Quarter Life Crisis. What makes it worth a listen is the witty and non-nonsence author Katharine Whitehorn talking all things QLC  with people like us. There’s really nothing to not like, especially the bit where they discuss how Vagenda editors Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Cosslett struggled to pay rent … holls


What we learnt: That it is possible to be successful and get paid to do what you love, even if it takes longer than it might have taken our parents. QLCs are scary things, but they can lead to extremely good things.

3)This Guardian article about post-uni unemployment and cluelessness isn’t a cheerful read but it’s a searingly honest account of how tricky things can be in the boomerang generation when it comes to finding a job. Not an internship but a real job…where you can actually go to the office party and make a fool of yourself like everyone else.


What we learnt: That even when certain slightly older people say we’re just moaning, we’re not. It’s actually true that unpaid internships are elitist and that we’ve got less stability than previous generations. It’s not whining, it’s just a fact. But that doesn’t mean there’s no point in being optimistic and doing everything you can do get where you want to. ‘Cos after all, someone has to get the job. It’s worth checking out this ‘open letter to early graduates’ on the These Millennials blog for some wise words on this subject.

Mind The Gap launch party: what you missed

Happen to miss out on last night’s Mind The Gap launch party liveblog, or wondering how Mind The Gap can help you get through your QLC? Catch up here with Clueless’s breakdown to your soon-to-be favourite life coaches…

At a glance:

  • New lifecoaching organisation, Mind The Gap, launches
  • MTG aims to solve the problems of todays 20 and 30-somethings, like the QLC
  • Renowned life coach and psychologist Dr Oliver Robinson talks about the reasons for the rise in QLC-ers
  • “MTG is a genuine niche for QLC support and discussion”, says Doc Robinson


The Quarter-life crisis in film


Image: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to the quarter-life crisis, it can sometimes feel like no-one understands what you’re going through. But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe you yourself saw a quarter-life crisis while you were growing up, and didn’t notice.

You see, according to the most respected of sources (Wikipedia) at least one or two film directors have tried to tackle the topic. Big life shake-ups, emotional climaxes and angst; it’s the stuff of high drama. But who’s really nailed the experience?

Let’s examine the evidence.

Garden State (2004)

Zach Braff’s Andrew Largeman certainly has a few crises in his life, and his job prospects are pretty grim. A return trip to his home town leads Andrew to question his place in the world, and how he lives in it. However, his issues seem more drawn from grief and over-medication – a crisis, but not necessarily a quarter-life one.

Andrew: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.

QLC rating: 1/5

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

I mean, it’s difficult not to have some sort of emotional crisis when you realise you and Jennifer Lawrence aren’t best friends yet. And her co-star Bradley Cooper’s forced return to his parental home in Silver Linings might ring a few bells for any graduates still looking for work and struggling with a curfew.

Despite this, it’s hard to say there’s exactly a quarter-life crisis in this film. Silver lining – Jennifer Lawrence is still great.

Pat: How old are you?

Tiffany: Old enough to have a marriage end and not wind up in a mental hospital.

QLC rating: 2/5

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

“She doesn’t know what she wants – she just knows what she doesn’t want.” Sound familiar? Still, it’s hard to identify with Scarlett Johanssen’s Christina too much, seeing as she basically drops out of an extended ménage-a-trois with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz from mere apathy. It’s a hard life…

Rebecca Hall’s Vicky is a more interesting prospect. Practical and traditional and engaged to the reliable Doug, Vicky’s actually seems pretty sure what she wants. But when she sees her humdrum future stretched out in front of her, she begins to change her mind…

QLC rating: 3/5

High Fidelity (2000)

“It would be nice to think that since I was 14, times have changed.” John Cusack’s Rob Gordon is a man who never grew up; his girlfriend has grown away from him and he can’t escape the cycles of juvenility that keep screwing up his life. Novelist Nick Hornby has a knack for capturing vaguely adolescent male angst, and this adaptation of his most famous work doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

High Fidelity is about a lot more than the quarter-life crisis of course, but this quote from Rob really sums up a lot of concerns many people have:

I can see now I never really committed to Laura. I always had one foot out the door, and that prevented me from doing a lot of things, like thinking about my future and… I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open. And that’s suicide. By tiny, tiny increments.

QLC rating: 4/5

The Graduate (1967)

The earliest, the greatest and the filmiest, The Graduate tells a timeless tale of not knowing what to do after university. Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman)’s options of a career or graduate school make him anxious, and he becomes seduced into an affair with an older woman. And with the famously ambiguous final shot of an apparently euphoric ending, it’s unclear whether Benjamin ever finds exactly what he’s looking for.

Benjamin: I’m just…

Mr. Braddock: Worried?

Benjamin: Well…

Mr. Braddock: About what?

Benjamin: I guess about my future.

Mr. Braddock: What about it?

Benjamin: I don’t know… I want it to be…

Mr. Braddock: To be what?

Benjamin: [looks at his father] … Different.

QLC rating: 5/5

And finally…

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Well, why don’t we evaluate it together? Tomorrow at 7pm Film4 is showing (500) Days of Summer and we’re liveblogging it on Storify!

Check back soon for more details.