AUDIO: Interview with Dr Oliver Robinson: Is the quarter-life crisis worse for women?

We met up with Dr Oliver Robinson from the University of Greenwich in London, to ask him a few questions about the quarter-life crisis. He talked about gender and whether the qlc really is just whining, as a few people have dared to suggest

Here’s what Dr Robinson said.


Infographic: What do American 18-29 year-olds think is most important?

At QLClueless? we’ve written about how working out what’s important to you is one way of overcoming the qlc.

Since we spend most weekends watching generation Y americans on Netflix  tv shows, we thought we’d see what our quarter-life friends across the pond think is most important to their futures.

Click on the infographic below for a larger version.


Data:Pew Research Centre, icons: The Noun Project. Created using Data Wrapper.

Data:Pew Research Centre, icons: The Noun Project. Created using Data Wrapper.

Do any of  these results surprise you? Do you think it would be the same in the UK? Tweet us @QLClueless

Get the data from Pew Research centre here. Study conducted in 2009 in the US.  300 18-29 yeard olds were asked.



VIDEO: What’s the best thing about being in your twenties?

With the arduous job-hunting, high rents and scary choices, we sometimes forget that being 20-something is seriously exciting.

For a nice reminder, we asked four fellow millenials to do a selfie clip each telling us what they like most about their age. Here’s what they said.


Courtesy of justine-reyes, Creative Commons

Courtesy of justine-reyes, Creative Commons




Guest Post: Quitting that first job. By Zena James from Eyes Wide Opened

It’s no secret that 20-somethings often feel guilty about leaving their first job to pursue something they really want to do. After all, it was so hard to get a job in the first place.

 Zena James from social enterprise Eyes Wide Opened (the organisation helps people get on track at any stage of their lives) has written QLClueless a guest post about quitting that first job.

The first job


Zena James, freelancer at Eyes Wide Opened. Photography courtesy of Eyes Wide Opened

I stayed in my first grown-up job for four years. Invaluable experience in a top PR firm, it was the best start anyone could have. But as the politics and additional responsibilities (not always fun ones) of climbing the ladder increased, I wondered whether I was missing something by staying in the unforgiving private sector, managing the reputations of profit-making corporates. I watched quietly and curiously while a colleague who’d joined as a graduate 2 years after me left us after only 2 years in the job to go and work for a charity that helped the homeless. She was radiating excitement. I was fascinated and strangely disconcerted that she chose to jump ship so soon after landing such a great job.

The need for meaning

We both had at our fingertips some of the world’s best PR practitioners and strategists, interesting clients, a clear progression path, a sense of belonging, a varied and sometimes hilarious work-related social life, and a fairly decent salary for the hard work we were expected to put in. But somehow, although it took me two years longer than her to feel it, there was something missing. And that something was meaning, a cause, and in both our cases, campaigning for something that wasn’t about profit.

And there we have it. Meaning.


As Roman Krznaric says in his thought-provoking short book, How To Find Fulfilling Work (published byThe School of Life), money and status are not enough for most people. At this very moment you may be huffing and puffing up your own career ladder or maybe you’re coasting, but you daren’t quit your job security for fear of overwhelming regret, not to mention fear of being labelled foolish, even careless, by parents and peers.

But what’s the point of staying if it’s giving you very little back except money, a tiring commute, a sometimes slippery career ladder and a nagging feeling that there really must be more to life?

Like using our talents and passions, or, as I was harbouring an increasing desire to do, be making a meaningful difference in my long day at work.

The quarter-life trap

‘Quarter-life’ is a curious stage to be at. Your bold decision to quit the security of that first job may well alter the course of your entire career. But that’s OK, isn’t it?  It may seem like a reckless and irresponsible move, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Asking yourself the right questions and consulting others around you about your true values and beliefs and what you really stand for counts for a lot right now. You may feel trapped and uninspired and feel like leaping but with no idea where to leap.  Again, that’s OK. Small steps towards change are better than no steps.  Put the time and energy in and it won’t be a wasted effort.

After all, fear of quitting, or being seen to quit, is really just fear of the unknown.

Who wouldn’t be anxious about a big change? It’s a risk. Psychology studies show that we’re much more sensitive to negative than positive stimuli. It’s primal, and Krznaric quotes evolutionary biologist theories:  that hazy object in the distance could be a fruit-laden bush, but it might be a lion, so our instinct is to steer well clear. So when it comes to career change, we are psychologically predisposed to magnify everything that could go wrong.


How to take the leap

But that doesn’t help those of you with little or no job satisfaction and a growing desire to do yourself a favour and move on, does it? So, now that you’ve accepted that YOU are the author of your life, it’s time to face the facts. You, like everyone, have strengths and qualities unique to you. No-one else can tell your story. So what are they? What gets you out of bed – is it really just money and status? What sets you apart and how are you going to translate and communicate that?

If you’ve got a sideways/upwards move in sight, ask yourself why you’re going for that role.  List all the reasons and prioritise them.  What rises to the top?  Are you happy with that? Assume for a moment that you’ll have several careers.  Right now, one might be based around a skill or knowledge area.  What about two others?  Where might they lie?  What underpins them – a passion?  A value?

And what did I do?

Why it was worth jumping ship

I’m proof that following your instinct towards more meaningful work and asking those hard-to-answer questions makes you happier with your own life story.

You should enjoy telling your story and enjoy knowing that you’ve been true to yourself. If I hadn’t jumped ship from that first job even though it was perfectly secure, I might never have gained the experience and variety you need to make the most of freelance life. So go on, do some serious research, consult everyone around you, reflect on what makes you tick and if after all that, it still feels slightly more exciting than terrifying, then enjoy the next life stage!  No -one else will do it for you…

Thanks to Zena for giving us some much needed inspiration!

Zena now freelances happily for organisations whose goals she really cares about, including Eyes Wide Opened, a social enterprise that runs career-clarifying coaching courses for people who crave more meaningful work.

The next London course is on 16 and 17 May.logo

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.

Quarter-life crisis in the media: What are the papers saying?


 Lately we’ve spotted a lot of intriguing media coverage of the quarter life crisis in all its different forms.

Instead of you having to bookmark 24/7 and trawling through all the weekend supplements, blogs and magazines, here’s our round-up of this month’s finest quarter-life crisis stuff. (Check out last month’s too if you missed it)

Top 3 things you should read this month

1) We liked this Guardian article about a 33 year old journalist on the verge of growing a ponytail and buying leather trousers.

I’m having a midlife crisis in my 30s. Is that normal?


What we learnt: That mid-life crises are starting earlier than ever. Maybe once you’re over your qlc, you’ll  be sorted enough not to have an mlc? Here’s hoping because we’re not sure we’ll be able to afford a motorbike given the current job prospects.

2) Buzzfeed always does good , and hilariously true, commentary on the 20-something existence. As well as anthropomorphised cats, obviously. Their latest QLC post has some pretty sound advice.


15 Things You Need To Stop Doing During Your Quarter-Life Crisis


What we learnt: We should stop worrying so much about the future, that we should be less hard on ourselves and most importantly, as illustrated by Buzzfeed above, make sure we have good friends who don’t drain every molecule of joy from our bodies.

The Buzzfeed screenshot above says it all. We really don’t have any room for Diana-inspired Elton John lyrics in our lives right now. (Although if you would like to listen to some Elton, here you go)


Image courtesy of JohnSimonreal, Creative Commons

Here’s Elton looking pretty into the music in a great shirt. He probably didn’t have a quarter-life crisis.


3) The quarter-life crisis is the cause of a campaign against in Singapore. The cost of living  there is so high (sounds familiar, Londoners?) that four university students have started a ‘The Next Stop’ movement to get people talking about the difficulties young people face when they leave education.


Singaporean fresh graduates: Quarter-Life Crisis


An extract from the article in which 24-year-old Lee Jingwei talks about her qlc:

 “Our culture [in Singapore] values high salaries, status and prestige. It makes us disconnected from reality; that when we graduate, we are actually not very valuable. So I think we just need to eat some humble pie, be willing to learn in any job, and then plan our life as we go along,”

What we learnt: The  qlc is global and that there are lots of people writing about their experiences all over the world, like this Asian-American qlc-sufferer.