• Wed, Jan 22 - 3:10 pm ET

5 Signs You’re Going Through Your Quarter Life Crisis

I’m not a planner. Tomorrow’s outfit and tonight’s dinner are as far in advance as I can project. And actually, the task of arranging my uniform beforehand is done with intentions of elongating the snooze time on my alarm clock and not due to extreme organizational skills. In six months I don’t know where I’ll be and I like that, I’ve always lived this way. Yet, I wasn’t entirely aware of the extent to which I am unable to plot the future until retrospection this past summer when I experienced my quarter life crisis.

Last August I turned 25 and my sporadic, nomadic lifestyle felt outlined, too predictable, anxiety-inducing. Consequentially, my radical transformation and impulsive life decisions were the result of a quarter life crisis, unbeknownst to me at the time. As a kid, I imagined my life drastically different upon the arrival of my quarter century; perhaps my expectations of self were highly regarded as I assumed I’d be mature enough to balance a husband, kid and career. A thought which now makes me laugh as to just how clueless ten-year-old Lindsey was.

Instead, I was faced with a deplorable truth: I wasn’t happy. So, naturally, I kind of freaked the eff out. Rather hastily, I made a series of irreversible, but necessary decisions, which has ultimately made me fall in love with my QLC.

And so, without further ado, here’s proof I endured a quarter life crisis/common behaviors and signs to help you diagnose yours:

1. You quit your job. (Or everyday you fantasize about how you’ll quit)

Insert panic attack here. This is the point of no return, a dreadful thought considering the current temperament of this unstable economy, in addition to a job market that is capricious and fleeting. Perhaps out of character and totally impractical, but a necessary evil, especially when you wake in the morning and feel jealous of inanimate objects that will have a better day than you. Lucky television. Dog grooming? Street sweeper? Pizza Delivery? Anything sounds better than your current situation that you feel fiercely compelled to solve in the heat of the moment.

It was a recklessly bold decision that ultimately left me jobless for six months. I submitted my two weeks notice one morning after my third cup of coffee and never looked back. Note to self: do not repeat, only acceptable behavior in life crises, please wait another twenty-five years.

2. You booked a one-way ticket home or elsewhere. (Or the fact that any random small town sounds a million times superior to your current state.)

Who says you can’t go home again? Suddenly your daily routine is just no longer acceptable and you need a critical change. You can’t explain it any better than this: “I just need to get away.”

“I’ll be back,” I said. “See you in a few months,” I promised. I intended on returning to California. I think. Although evidence points to the contrary, considering I booked a one-way ticket to my sisters house in North Carolina immediately upon completion of #1.

3. Travel. Anywhere and Everywhere, your bags are packed.

Running away? Psh. You imagine you’ll be like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). Commence your inner hippie! Hostels, maps, backpack and just enough money to escape for as long as necessary. Why wait until retirement to travel the world?

I attacked my savings account with an expensive, voluntary service trip to India by myself. Just in case the opposing coast wasn’t enough distance, I flew around the world for more space. Maybe I was inspired by Gandhi, or an attempt at soul searching, but I needed to do something selfless–to remind myself who I am, the person I lost in the hum drum of my scheduled California monotony.

4. Break up. (Slash you frequently question the existence of “the spark.”)

Freedom. The thought of being trapped is way scarier than the idea of being alone. When you finally decide to reevaluate your life you realize what’s been nagging at you incessantly is the desire for independence. Ahh, clarity.

It was a mutual breakup, inspired by my impetuous decisions to significantly alter my life, my job, my location. Somehow, now, I feel limitless.

5. Graduate School. (You’ve applied or you have frequent inner debates).

You miss college. You realize just how good you had it. You keep wondering: should I return? Why was this not a consideration before? It’s a vicious circle of pros and cons and questioning, arguing, wavering.

I’ve applied to grad school because my inner student and collegiate nostalgia felt the need to have more options. Choices–how I missed you, and having decisions to make!

Fellow sufferers of QCL, embrace the changes and welcome to the quarter century club!

From Our Partners

Share This Post:
  • Kaitlin Reilly

    This is great, Lindsey! (By the way, remind me to ask you about your travels — I’m completely fascinated by all of this.)
    I tend to make a lot of impulsive short term decisions but plan my long term life way in advance. In a lot of ways, I wish I were more like this — even if, yes, it is called a Quarter Life Crisis.

  • LynnKell

    I call my QLC “vocational crisis”. I studied business and my work has been nothing of what I expected/assumed/like. I want to change careers but even that is fucking scary. IDK, maybe i’ll go through your list but backwards.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      It’s super scary! I’m with ya there :)

  • Alexis H

    Spot on. I did every single one of these things at 25.

  • http://allison-mick.tumblr.com/ Allison Mick

    Oh man, this speaks to me on such a level. When I was 26, I graduated law school, moved to California, failed the bar exam, quit law, and started doing standup comedy while working a series of shitty temp jobs. I thought I’d had my QLC at 24 when I dyed my hair purple and slept around a lot, but I had no clue that when your QLC hits, it hits hard. I feel like it comes at a time when you most need structure but at the same time, the very thought of structure becomes totally stifling and repugnant. Technically, I’m still in this period of upheaval but the freedom is so
    intoxicating that I’m happier than I ever could imagine being had I
    continued to pursue a conventionally “successful” life.

    Life is fucking weird like that.

  • Anne Marie Hawkins

    I actually feel a little panicked because I’m *not* going through any of this. I’m in a stable relationship, stable job, stable housing situation – and even though intellectually I know these are good things, I can’t help feeling like I’m doing 25 “wrong” somehow.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      NO! That’s wonderful. I don’t think this happens to everyone!

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      Spoke too soon on that. I was down-sized not four hours after posting that.