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

 

 

 

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The Quarter-life crisis in words

QLC word cloud

“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go

What does this guy know anyway? Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

What does this guy know anyway? Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Well hold on there F. Scott Fitzgerald (#namedrop), you haven’t even seen what we’re going to do with them yet! Jeez, this guy.

In a previous post, we looked at how the quarter-life crisis was represented in news media, and now we’ve gone back to the features, news stories and guides to the quarter-life crisis to look at the words it’s couched in.

For our purposes, these word clouds pull out the most frequently used terms – the bigger the word, the more times it was used in the original articles. In this first overall word cloud (above), there’s a lot of peripheral information to sift through, particularly irrelevant numbering.

The themes that pop out (aside from obvious terms like ‘crisis’) aren’t that surprising; ‘work’ and ‘jobs’ were used frequently enough to correlate them with QLCs. However, some are more interesting. ‘Parents’ would seem to reflect on both a comparison with previous generations and a need to live at home for financial reasons.

If we break it down further, we can see trends more clearly. For example, if we focus only on the long-form news feature articles and raise the bar for times a word is used, a slightly clearer picture emerges. We combined this guardian article, this telegraph article and this msn article to create this:

QLC feature word cloud

Again, we see ‘parents’, ‘jobs’ and ‘career’  are frequently used, but so are more personal terms: ‘trapped’, ‘depressed’, ‘feeling(s)’ , fear, ‘age’, ’25’ (a key age as opposed to the spectrum of numbers in the first word cloud), ‘want’, ‘phase’ and many others that display the universal feelings of distress that people can feel in these situations (incidentally Damian Barr, previously interviewed on this blog, also pops up a few times).

Blimey, this is getting a bit depressing; are all QLC articles this gloomy? Well, no; as any of our regular readers can attest, the rib-tickling levels of fun and hilarity that can be squeezed from the QLC knows no bounds; but what do these funnier articles on the topic from Metro, Buzzfeed and our very own Alex Horne (in this post) tell us?

QLC funny

Well, possibly slightly less. Although things are a bit less doom and gloom in these articles (as you might imagine), they also tend to gloss over key parts of the QLC experience (except the one from us, of course. We’re amazing). There are still trends that emerge, however; education, careers and emotional themes keep rising to the fore.

But perhaps you want something a little more helpful, and so for this last word cloud we’ve drawn together some articles which offer practical advice:

QLC helpful articles

It’s essentially what you’d expect. Keep your ‘faith’; one ‘stage’ at a time. ‘QLCs’ can make your ‘twenties’ intolerable, but ‘even’ during them, you must know they’re ‘just’ a ‘stage’.

That might seem pat and cheap, but it’s true. The language of the QLC is as universal as the experience – but also as the simple techniques to get past it are. So that’s what the investigations, the lists and the advice tell you.

As the last word cloud says: Your Move.

(Well, technically it says ‘youre’ and ‘MOVE’ separately, but it’s close enough. Ssh. And Robinson.)

With thanks to www.jasondavies.com for the word cloud programme.

Full list of articles:

The quarterlife crisis: young, insecure and depressed (The Guardian)

Quarter-life crisis: Find me a twentysomething who isn’t having one (The Telegraph)

20-something and stressed? How the quarter-life crisis got worse (MSN News)

Feeling depressed? It may be your quarter-life crisis (New Scientist)

‘Quarter-life’ crisis hits three in four of those aged 26 to 30 (Daily Mail)

10 Signs You’re Having Your Quarter-Life Crisis (Buzzfeed)

6 signs you’re suffering from a quarter-life crisis (Metro)

How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis (Self)

7 Cures for Your Quarter-life Crisis (Relevant magazine)

My 20s Weren’t Supposed to Be Like This: Getting Through the Quarter-Life Crisis (The Huffington Post)

Are You Having a Mid-twenties Crisis? (The Huffington Post)

 

Is it just Britain having a Quarter-Life Crisis?

Youth unemployment has been rife in the UK over the last few years, and in Quarter Life Clueless’s opinion is one of the biggest factors as to why quarter-life crisis is such a hot topic at the moment.

However it is fair to say that it’s not just young Brits who are struggling in the job market. Data collated from Eurostat shows that Britain’s youth unemployment rates are in fact no where near as high as those in countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Italy (no prizes go to those who guessed Greece’s youth were worse off than ours, at least that’s something ‘ey?).

What this all shows is that despite things being pretty grim at the moment in old Blighty, things are a lot worse on the other side of the channel. A discovery that will perhaps be met with cries of Sacre Bleu by our rather less fortunate French counterparts.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 16.00.34

 

Stats from Eurostat

 

Country Rate (2013)
Austria 8.90
Belgium 23.10
Canada 13.90
Czech Republic 18.80
Denmark 12.90
Finland 19.40
France 25.60
Germany 7.40
Greece 59.00
Hungary 28.10
Ireland 24.60
Italy 41.60
Japan 7.30
Luxembourg 18.10
Netherlands 11.10
Norway 9.20
Poland 27.40
Portugal 36.30
Spain 54.30
Sweden 22.90
UK 19.90
USA 14.20

Top 5 Quarter-life Crisis sites

So you thought getting over your quarter-life crisis would be like ABC, easy as 123, as simple as do re mi?

Well unfortunately, you were wrong (again). Everybody’s different, which is why the good folks at Clueless have compiled the internet’s top 5 QLC sites (it’s actually only #2 to #6 – you already found #1), each focusing on different problems, tastes, and personalities.  Take a wander and see which one suits you best…

kirk-small

Courtesy of Kirk Akahoshi

1 – Kirk Akahoshi, life coach, quarter-life crisis expert

Kirk Akahoshi is the Mr Miyagi of life coaches. His approach to the QLC is very much ‘wax on, wax off’ – that is, getting in touch with your spiritual side before kicking your QLC in the crotch. His blog is all about pinpointing what’s wrong in your life, then making peace with it. It also features a ton of personal challenges which will help shape the way you handle things like finances and relationships – for example making a promise to yourself, like working out an extra couple of days a week, and then donating money to charity every time you break the rules. Bow to your Sensei.

Working_Self_header

Courtesy of Rebecca Fraser-Thill

2 – Working Self, creating meaningful work with Rebecca Fraser-Thill

Working Self is for QLCers worried about their career(less) life. Rebecca Fraser-Thill describes herself as a “free spirit who regularly turns down ‘prime’ opportunities in pursuit of work that fits my values, goals, and purpose”. As you can see, this blog is less about how to land fat dollar, and more about how to get happiness and meaning out of your work – as well as building your confidence along the way. Rebecca also likes data, as you’ll find in her blog, and is constantly drawing up stats and graphs providing tips like ‘why people who have mentors tend to get salary increases and promotions faster than workers who don’t have mentors’.

  mynameiselizabethblog

3 – My Name is Elizabeth, stories about identity, family, and culture

Deeply personal and spanning everything from growing up to religion, My Name is Elizabeth takes a serious look at some of our most private worries and inhibitions. Combining her cultural experiences with a fair bit of academic study (a PhD in clinical psychology. And a master’s in psychology. Oh, and another master’s in theology.) Elizabeth provides an incisive look into what makes you tick. You’ll be challenged by some of her writing, but probably reassured too. Definitely worth a look for those millenials feeling a bit emo.

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Courtesy of Molly Mahar

4 – Stratejoy, You Want to Love Your Life

One for the ladies. Molly Mahar’s Stratejoy is a great place to figure out the coaching, courses, and community you need to get involved with to sidestep your QLC. With hundreds of contributions from women all over the world Stratejoy looks at QLC problems unique to women, whether it’s fighting your corner in a male-dominated workplace or even preparing to have a child. In the community section feel free to post your own questions – you’ll receive a dozen answers from women who’ve been there and done that.

5 – Elite Daily, The Voice of Generation-Y

Ah, the hipsters choice. Teeming with buzzfeed-style articles for quick relief from Microsoft Excel, Elite Daily is a playground for QLCers. Alongside the life, money, and dating pages you’d expect from a QLC site, it also has plenty on sports, music, and humour, among others. Particularly interesting are the travel posts, so those of you looking to “get away from it all” can follow a path well-trodden by QLCers past and present.  It might not be an in-depth look into “where-you-went-wrong-and how-to-set-it-right”, but it provides light relief and laughs, and who can argue with that?

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 trendblog.net

Image courtesy of trendblog.net

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.

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

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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:

 

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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.

wallet

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.

Guest post: Dr Oliver Robinson

The Clueless team has only gone and snagged Dr Oliver Robinson for a bit of academic, incisive QLC discussion – lucky us! Doc Robinson is Programme Leader for the BSc Hons Psychology with Counselling degree at the University of Greenwich. He’s something of a QLC expert, and his research has been published in the New Scientist, The Guardian, BBC Radio 4, The Telegraph and The Times (Wow. We actually are lucky). Today he’s going to wax lyrical on the basics – what is a QLC, and where does it come from? This is the kind of guy who has many leather bound books and a Rolodex, so listen up people…

Dr Oliver Robinson. Photograph courtesy of The University of Greenwich

Dr Oliver Robinson. Photograph courtesy of The University of Greenwich

What is the quarter-life crisis? After all, traditionally the period of midlife has been most strongly associated with having a crisis in adulthood, but it is now widely accepted that they are just as likely in the first decade of adult life. A quarter-life crisis is a period of stress, instability and major life change that occurs when a person is either in their twenties or early thirties.  Such a period typically occurs when a person has entered a job, relationship or marriage, or has developed an adult lifestyle, which they then realise they no longer want because it is causing them distress or preventing their personal growth. The crisis period acts as a turning point during which old commitments are ended, new ones are begun, and many strong emotions are experienced.  Crisis episodes are often reflected on as developmental important periods, during which much personality development and emotional development occurs.

“A quarter-life crisis is a period of stress, instability and major life change that occurs when a person is either in their twenties or early thirties”

My research has investigated the quarter-life crisis using questionnaires and interviews, and I’ve found it is quite a common phenomenon – about one third of British adults aged 30 and over reflect on having a crisis in their twenties.

However, there are good arguments that the quarter-life crisis is more common now than in the past.

Firstly, adults in their twenties report higher levels of stress than any other adult age group.  It is a time during which major decisions are made that shape the remaining decades of adult life – this is a source of pressure and anxiety and one that is increasingly complicated in the modern world as there are more kinds of job, more possible identities and a wider set of options for relationships.

An additional challenge for young adults is changing roles from being a dependent child who lives at home and is financially supported, to being an independent adult. This transition to adulthood can take many years to achieve in full due to longer periods studying and the high price of property.

While age 18 is the commencement of legal adulthood in the UK (and many other countries), most young adults do not actually think of themselves as adults for some years after that.  This is referred to as the stage of ‘emerging adulthood’ – when a young adult is neither fully adolescent nor fully adult.

In the past, the start of adult commitments such as marriage, parenthood and career occurred earlier, so by the age of 25 a young person would quickly be embedded in adult society through entering these social roles. Now, in the UK, the average age for first marriage is approximately 30, and parenthood also starts at this age on average.

This delay of commitments means that a young person has more freedom to explore and be educated than ever before; it means that major life changes are more possible and manageable. For example, a career change is easier if the person does not have financial responsibilities towards children and so has the capacity to re-train for a period of their young adult life, while a relationship change is also easier if the relationship in non-marital and does not involve children.  These are the kinds of changes that make quarter-life crisis a more common phenomenon than in the past.

A quarter-life crisis is an episode in life that typically lasts a year or two, and includes a number of recognisable features.  All episodes start with Phase 1. This involves a life situation that is causing the person stress, dissatisfaction, a deep sense that their development is not progressing healthily and optimally, and feeling trapped in a set of commitments that have been made but are no longer wanted.  This is often accompanied by not feeling in control– of being pushed around by circumstance and other people.  The negative emotions that characterise Phase 1 are often held within, and not expressed outwardly.

Phase 2A brings with it a greater desire for change, and a belief that change can occur. During this phase, a person separates from a relationship, social group or job to search for a new path into adult life. This is a distressing period, for it brings a sense of loss, confusion and a sense of anxiety about the future.

“Rather than living with a routine and automatically, life in Phase 3 is experimental and spontaneous”

Phase 2B is a time of questioning and self-examination. One of our participants said of this period: ‘‘I had to reflect, I had to see about the past and what went wrong, why things went wrong”. This emphasises the nature of this period – a time to reflect on why their life had led to a crisis and how to move forward.

Rather than living with a routine and automatically, life in Phase 3 is experimental and spontaneous. New ideas, identities and commitments are then tried and a person looks at options available to them for the future. The aim of Phase 3 is to search for a career or relationship that is more closely aligned with their ‘core self’ – they values, aspirations and deep sense ‘who I am’ than before.

Phase 4 is termed the ‘rebuilding phase’ and it involves active steps towards building a new adult ‘life structure’ – an integrated set of commitments that can stand the test of time and act as the foundation for the decades of adult life to come.

To read more of Doc Robinson’s work on the QLC and coping with adulthood, check out his book Development through Adulthood: An Integrative Sourcebook. You can also catch excerpts of his keynote speech at Mind The Gap’s launch party in March on our liveblog coverage of the event.