Quarter-life Crisis: 10 Steps to Recovery

Although your journey out of the depths of crisis may not correlate with my timeframe, these are my personal steps for escaping the quarter-life crisis in handy timeline form.

Come for the info, stay for the .gifs



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Quarter-Life Crisis Stat Sheet

Us generous folks at Quarter Life Clueless have distilled some of the biggest concerns of quarter life crisis sufferers into this handy stat sheet to give you some perspective on, and hopefully some reassurance about, your clueless situation.


Quarter Life Crisis Stat Sheet


Has this been helpful? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @QLClueless and visit our tumblr.

Guest Post: Quarter-Life Crisis – Natalia Lukaszewicz

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

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

Natalia Lukaszewicz

Natalia Lukaszewicz

“I had come home because of an aching sadness and debilitating anxiety”

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, I had come home because of an aching sadness and debilitating anxiety that had set in some 4 months prior, and most days, I dreaded 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 I had returned from travelling 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.

“What do I do now, what do I do now, what do I do now?”

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.

“Not knowing has the potential to be as great as specificity”

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.



Has this been helpful? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @QLClueless and visit our tumblr.



Has Disney ruined your life?

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that the heart-warming films of Walt Disney have pervaded every aspect of every single human being on the planet’s childhood.

The entire male population of Asia has, at some point or another, aspired to ride a magic rug and trap a parrot in a gravy boat. Every self-respecting Englishman has dreamed of possessing the style and wit of cheeky chimneysweep Dick Van Dyke.  All Y-chromosome deficient homo sapiens spend their lives counting the days until a coiffured nobleman carries them off into the hills.

But have timeless classics like The Emperor’s New Groove and Jungle Book 2 had another, more insidious, influence on our lives? Could Disney be responsible for the inadequacy, isolation and dissatisfaction we feel as we emerge, like Alice from the rabbit hole, into the adult world?

Below is a selection of some of the most egregious lies peddled to us by The Walt Disney Company while we were at our most vulnerable and impressionable.


#1. If you want something enough it will be yours.


When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

The idea that the world is governed by a benevolent force who rewards those who “wish” hard enough is a central tenet of the Disney ideology (among others). The concept, however, doesn’t quite hold water in a world of unpaid internships, nepotism and starving artists.

#2. All friendships last forever.


I wanna call your name, forever
And you will always answer, forever
And both of us will be
Forever you and me
Forever and ever

Yes, in the Disney universe even a friendship forged with an inanimate object is a source of endless laughter and boundless fun. In reality, however, your connection to your childhood friends is limited to scrolling through pictures of them having the time of their lives on Facebook. You, on the other hand, spend your Friday nights in the local with “the guys from work”, taking pictures of yourself pretending to have the time of your life.

#3. All work can be made joyful if you know how.


In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap, the job’s a game

Although whistling while you work may make your desk jockeying days more bearable, you’re likely to receive a pencil in the eye courtesy of a colleague (and you would deserve it). Eating spoonfuls of sugar as you cold-call people would have similar negative effects on your health. In short, lots of areas of work are as joyless as that scene in Bambi and no amount of sing song or tomfoolery is going to change that.

#4. The partner of you dreams is out there somewhere.


I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream.
I know you
The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
Yes, I know it’s true
that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once
the way you did once upon a dream

Tinder, Grindr and Plenty of Fish have made it easier than ever to meet a sleazy cretin for a romantic pint but they have also made it much more apparent that human beings are terrible and that the idea of “everlasting love” is a hollow sham.

#5. Everything ends happily ever after™.


We are home
We are where we shall be forever
Trust in me
For you know I wont run away
From today
This is all that I need
And all that I need to say is…
Don’t you know how you’ve changed me


Perhaps the most pernicious of all Disneyisms is that everything always turns out great for the good guys. What a terrible thing to tell children who will grow up in a world of existential despair and Piers Morgan. No Disney princess becomes terminally ill and no handsome prince develops PTSD. Instead, the Dalmatians and the Aristocats come home, Simba becomes king, Sleeping Beauty stops sleeping, the little mermaid stops being a mermaid and the Hunchback of Notre Dame…actually, forget him.

#6. You Can Fly


You can do what the birdies can
At least it’s worth a try
You can fly! You can fly!
You can fly! You can fly!

You can’t fly.


Any thoughts on Disney’s lies? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @QLClueless.

Q&A: Ben’s Quarter-Life Crisis

Ben is a 22-year-old PPI claim investigator working in London. I sat down with him to talk about childhood, working life and the quarter-life crisis.

Things got a bit depressing…


Q. Do you feel that you have experienced anything resembling a quarter life crisis?

A. I’ve heard of this being a thing and I know people who have definitely gone through a crisis at our age but I can honestly say I haven’t. This might be because I don’t spend a lot of time analysing my life or maybe I’m just lucky.

Q. Do you feel that your best years are behind you?

A. Wow, are you trying to make me have a crisis? No I don’t, I’m in my first stable relationship and have only just properly flown the nest. It’s hard work being an adult but the rewards are much richer.

Q. Now that you’re a certified adult do you have any fixed long term goals?

A.This is a bit cliché and could be construed as avoiding the question but I just want to live a life which I can look back on and be satisfied with. I suppose that’s everyone’s goal really but it makes sense doesn’t it? People can strive all their lives to achieve things and be miserable. People can accomplish amazing things and still be miserable!

Q. Do you believe hard work is the key to success?

A. My dad always said “with hard work you can achieve anything” but I think we all know that’s bullshit. Returning to the previous question my goal is essentially reached through doing as little hard work as possible. No one looks back fondly on a life toiling away at a computer screen. It’s what I do out of work that will enrich my life.

Q. Does the prospect of settling down into a job for life appeal to you?

A. Aspects of that life certainly appeal to me but at this point in time I’d rather not think about it. I’d much rather go with the flow and see what life throws at me.

“People can strive all their lives to achieve things and be miserable.

People can accomplish amazing things and still be miserable!”


Q. Do you feel you have been deceived about the possibilities available to you in adult life?

A. Not necessarily deceived but life choices that satisfy the soul and provide long-term financial stability are, for the most part, unrealistic.

Q. Do you feel that our generation has been mollycoddled?

A. On the one hand we have been more so than any previous generation. On the other hand, support and freedom from parents are vital to developing well-rounded and mentally stable children. I can’t imagine anyone believing that this generation of parents had anything other than the best intentions.

Q. Do you feel that there is a lot of pressure on people to be successful at an early age?

A. Yes. As an 11 year old, you see career guidance councillors in school. We are pressured at 14 years old to condense our options, then again at 16.

By the age of 18 we are told to choose one subject and to exclusively study that for 3 years. This itself drastically reduces our options when seeking employment.

How many people actually know what they want to do in life, especially at such a young age?

“life choices that satisfy the soul and provide long-term financial stability are, for the most part, unrealistic.”


Q. Do you think social media contributes to people feeling a sense of inadequacy?

A. Yes, but arguably the types of people who frequent social media do so to deal with latent feelings of inadequacy anyway. It’s a vicious circle.

I think that the wider media, in particular celebrity culture and advertising, have a bigger effect than social media on feelings of inadequacy. Both superficially and in terms of comparing our achievements to others.

This is especially relevant when considering the idolisation of money, footballers pop-stars and the rest of it.

Q. Do you think media representations of adolescence/young adulthood have positively influenced your life and aspirations?

A. Justin Bieber has, most definitely. Love that guy.  In all seriousness I can’t think of anyone who stands out in my mind as being a role model for me when I was younger. It’s hard to imagine your lives without a reflection of it in film and TV though so it’s a tough question that I can’t adequately answer.

“…people who frequent social media do so to deal with latent feelings of inadequacy”


Q. Do you think the amount of options available to people makes it more difficult for people to feel more comfortable in their lives?

A. I think so. When you ask most people what their dream job would be it’s usually in a creative field or playing a role in changing the world. People want to improve human existence and have their name secured in history. Yet we all end up in jobs in banks, retail outlets and beauty shops.

If we see these aspirations as being basic impulses drilled into us from childhood then 99.999 per cent of people never get to fulfil their desires. To make things worse we get forced into jobs which we sometimes see as actively making the world a worse place. Of course, I’m not suggesting that children should be told to expect a mundane life and not to aspire to things. That would be awful.

Q. Do you think that generations before us had simpler lives in any sense of the word?

A. The easy answer is yes. But our grandparents, and great-grand parents were killed in the wars. Meanwhile we live comfortably in our homes, 5000 miles away from the bombs. We moan about the complication of life, when in reality, we have abundant food, entertainment and resources. Going to Asda is easier than farming.

I think our naivety makes us believe our lives are complicated, but who’s to say every generation hasn’t felt that way. We can speak to people on the other side of the world, on Skype, live. It’s not that complicated.

“99.999 per cent of people never get to fulfil their desires.”

And on that happy note we finished our interview.