Guest Post: Anwen Hayward

Sometimes a minor quarter-life crisis can come from your lack of one. Sound confusing? Anwen Hayward of explains.


Photo courtesy of Anwen Hayward

Historically speaking, my family have always been good at quarter life crises. My mother got married to a man with ringlets. My great-grandfather joined the Australian navy and got so many tattoos that he made his wife cry.

There’s even a rumour that a great-great-uncle developed a sudden lifelong whim to be a horse and cart driver, spending his family’s life savings on a cart pony and old wagon before falling into destitute alcoholism. I don’t know what happened to the horse.

So, with that information to hand, I rather expected that my own quarter life crisis would be the thing of legend. I was almost looking forward to it. I wondered what I’d do when I hit the sensible wall of my 20s and dived into the uncharted waters of quarter life rebellion.

Would I spend all my savings on designer clothing and taxidermied fish? Perhaps I’d develop a glamorous cocaine habit and start frequenting soho bars, or run off to Cambodia with a younger gentleman (although not too much younger, of course; I’d be a rebel, not a monster).

I had no idea what I’d do when the big 2-0 hit, but I knew it would be phenomenal. They’d commemorate my story to myth, write odes and ballads about me and get funny men in tights to sing them with lyre accompaniments. They would. I knew it.

“I rather expected that my own quarter life crisis would be the thing of legend”

Only it didn’t quite happen like that.

Last week, I reached the grand old age of 22, and to date the most rebellious thing I’ve ever done is dine and dash in a cafe in Paris, swindling the owner of a massive 1.50€. I lost sleep for days over that, before rationalising that the pubic hair I’d found in my pain au chocolat would cost me far more than 1.50€ in therapy in the years to come. Since then, I’d never had any desire to do anything more avant-garde than that. Not once in the 700 days since I’d hit 20 had I had any desire to change my life on a whim, or reevaluate my life goals on a gondola in Vienna.

In 365 days, at the age of 23, my mother would have been married to a man with ringlets. 365 days ago, at the age of 21, my great-grandfather would have got a tattoo of a mermaid with phenomenally large breasts on his bicep. 365 days ago, I was sitting in my office, typing away contendedly at a petty cash spreadsheet and daydreaming about books I’d never write. I fully expected to be doing the same thing in 365 days’ time. Hardly the stuff of legend.

“To date the most rebellious thing I’ve ever done is dine and dash in a cafe in Paris”

On the morning of my 22nd birthday, I sat in my bedroom in my parents’ house and ruminated about the crisis that I hadn’t had. Where was my revelation? What had happened to my epiphany? I was 22, for God’s sake. I was supposed to have realised that my life was fruitless and heading in an undesirable direction, catapulting me fast into the void of vain attempts at changing the pattern of my existence. I was supposed to have had some sort of realisation, some sort of sudden and undeniable proof that I should be angry with the way my life was going, and yet I hadn’t. I’d just sort of plodded along, completely content with the fact that I had an English degree and yet I’d been an assistant accountant for the past seven years.

At first, I wondered if perhaps I’d been brainwashed by the patriarchy. Perhaps I’d just been gradually pushed into not questioning my admittedly boring life. Perhaps my total and peaceful acceptance of my lot was not just my natural optimism, but a symptom of a systematic and total brainwashing by the system into deciding not to protest my ill luck.

“Where was my revelation? What had happened to my epiphany?”

And then I had an epiphany. In an ideal world, I would have had this revelation against the backdrop of a red-raw sunset over an African plain, but in reality, I was eating lunch at my office desk (the same lunch I have every day, packed in a pink lunchbox and devoured at the chime of 1pm). The revelation? That I was content. I just was. I hadn’t had a crisis because I didn’t need one. My brain wasn’t addled by a totalitarian state. It was just happy. I was just happy.

The revelation was a mildly shocking one. As a more creative person, I’d always expected to rue the monotony of working life. I knew that I was supposed to loathe the grind of the 9-5 workday. I was supposed to be young and angry with the system that forced me out of bed at 7.30 on weekdays. Yet, for now, I wasn’t. I quite enjoyed getting the same bus every day, learning about the lives and idiosyncracies of my fellow commuters. I even looked forward to the client review meetings on Friday afternoons.

I’m still not sure what my crisis will be, if it ever happens. Perhaps in 3 years’ time I’ll have a sudden desire to drop everything and become a graphic designer in Norway, or I’ll hit 26 and realise that my lifelong goal was always to become a Conservative politician, but for now, my only revelation to date has been that I don’t need a crisis or a turning point to bring my life into focus. All I need is some feeling of contentment, something to look forward to and a reason to be happy, and that as long as I have that, I’m quite happy to live in the moment and put the crisis off. At least until I’m 40, anyway.


Podcast: Leaving uni triggered my quarter-life crisis

After our Dr Oliver Robinson guest post kindly elaborated on how sudden life changes can cause a QLC, we thought we’d get a firsthand perspective from someone who had recently left uni and dived into the workplace…

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




Can dating apps help cure a Quarter-Life Crisis?

In our latest podcast we discuss whether dating apps, such as Tinder, can help make QLCs that little bit easier.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

In an attempt to wade through the world of Plenty of Fish, Tinder and OkCupid! we speak to Eve Simmons of Apphrodite – a new and exciting blog exploring the realms of dating apps. In the podcast we discuss whether dating apps really are helping people, why they’re using them and what you can do to avoid being the perpetually single one amongst your friends. Have a listen and we hope you enjoy our pearls of wisdom.

How can you overcome your Quarter-Life Crisis? Interview with life coach Alice Stapleton (Part 2)

Alice Stapleton, life/ career coach,
image courtesy of

So, you’re having a QLC.You don’t like your job, but making a big change seems much too scary. Alice debunked some QLC myths in part 1, here’s part 2 where she tells you what to do next.

 Alice, is there something we can do about this rabbit-in-headlights anxiety, or should we just embrace denial?

Consider what your motivations and interests are. Think about what your priorities are in life.

People used to have one straight career path but generation Y is much more about variety and breadth. There’s the idea of portfolio careers, working part time here and there.

You get scared by thinking: “How do I fit my unique self into this box which I think I should be in?”

Think about where your dream has come from, and if it is still yours. Is this what you want, or is it what your parents want?

What do you care about? What do you want to do? What don’t you want to do? It’s about raising self-awareness of what makes you tick.

What’s the first step out of a QLC?

When people come to me, I tell them to spend time researching different career options.

Lots of people don’t make changes because they think they have to quite a full-time job and leap blind into the unknown but you don’t have to do that.

Give yourself six months to shadow people, go to events for those professions, talk to people in those worlds. Test the water, so you’re not giving everything up in one go.

Start small.

Has anyone ever done anything drastically life-altering after coming to you for QLC help?

Most changes are small but crucial.

There was a client who was in IT software who wanted to travel so  we worked out a practical plan for that. She emailed me a few weeks ago to say she’d handed in her notice and had gone away for 6 months.  She said: “You know what? If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just come back.”

I had a secretary assistant who wanted to teach. We talked about getting her boss to let her work four days a week so she’d have one day to spend in a school and get some experience.

Thank you to Alice for chatting to us– great to get some expert advice.

If you want more QLC wisdom, have a look at Alice’s new project, Mind The Gap . It’s  a community (online and real-world) for people in their 20s and early 30s who would like some support in their post-uni/ adult life confusion.  The coaches are almost all quarter-lifers themselves, so they’ll get what you’re talking about.

Installation by Bruce Nauman, photograph by Kasia Delgado

Installation by Bruce Nauman, photograph by Kasia Delgado

What is a quarter-life crisis? An interview with life coach Alice Stapleton (part 1)

courtesy of alicestapleton.acom

Alice Stapleton, life/ career coach and QLC expert,
image courtesy of

Probation officer turned career coach, Alice Stapleton, has researched her way into being an expert on the QLC (not least because she had one herself).  Now she helps people clamber out of the hole of confusion some of generation Y has fallen into. So we went to talk to her, secretly hoping we might get a chance to talk about our very own QLCs  while, of course, sourcing material for this blog. You can find part 2 here.

First up, please reassure us that the QLC is actually ‘a thing’. Because a tiny part of our brain is telling us we’re being silly.

It’s funny, I look through Twitter to see what people are saying about QLCs and American bloggers are going, “Ahh I’m having a QLC” but the ones in England, in typical British fashion, say:  “Is the QLC an actual thing? Because I definitely think I’m experiencing it…”

And I’m like, “Yes, definitely!”

QLCs have been on the table for a few years but it’s been met with a lot of,  “ugh, its the young people moaning again.  What’s their problem? They’ve got it all”.

So what is this phenomenon people call the QLC? 

It’s a kind of identity crisis. You’re in your 20s or early 30s, asking the questions, ‘Who am I? What am I doing? Is this it? Is this what my life’s going to be like forever?”

Why are some of us asking such scary questions so young?

The working world is so competitive  that generation Y is being educated up to its eyeballs. So you finish education later than previous generations did.

The post- war generation baby boomers had a different job market, a better economy and a less competitive world.

But you’re not doing any of the things your parents were doing by your age, and you’re left thinking, “oh my god. I rent, I live with two strangers, I do a job I hate,  and I’m single. What am I doing?”

Being in your 20s used to mean being independent, but that’s hard when you’re financially reliant on your parents, and you have to move back home while you’re struggling to find a job.  There’s more choice career-wise, but it’s hard to take advantage of it all.

Is social media messing with our QLC-ridden minds?  

Facebook and Twitter make things worse because it encourages comparison. Some of your friends will have boyfriends, kids, a house, a great job or whatever you feel you don’t have.

You’re bombarded with updates about all of that, and start thinking there must be something wrong with you.

But  people don’t often update with bad or average news. It’s the great stuff we get on our feeds, so it’s not even an accurate portrayal of someone’s life.

Is the QLC a female thing?

I coach more women than men, but  I don’t think this is because fewer men are struggling, but because  women are happier to talk about it. The issues are the same, the male QLC is just under-reported.

Go on then, tell us about your QLC…

Well, lots of people ask me why I’ve gone into this niche. I always knew I wanted to work one-on-one with people. But also,  I identified with this area of life coaching after I had my QLC.

I was in a state when I left university. I sat at the computer basically crying for three months thinking “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Having experienced that relatively mild QLC and seeing some of my friends have a worse time, I thought, god there are people who this is really serious for.

I love my job and I really think there needs to be more support for people struggling with this period of their lives.

Thank you to Alice for chatting to us– great to have an expert debunk some QLC myths. Read part 2 of the interview here.

If you want more QLC wisdom, have a look at Alice’s new project, Mind The Gap . It’s  a community (online and real-world) for people in their 20s and early 30s who would like some support in their post-uni/ adult life confusion.  The coaches are almost all quarter-lifers themselves, so they’ll get what you’re talking about.

Courtesy of Mind The Gap

Courtesy of Mind The Gap