A quarter-life crisis, and what spurred it, is going to look a little different depending on the individual, but for many, it comes down to the disillusionment of young adulthood. As Leeds explains, once someone has spent a bit of time in the “real world,” they can begin to feel lost, whether it be in their careers, in their personal lives, or in their communities.
Many people experience dramatic upheaval, change, and disappointment during this time of their lives, which can lead them to feeling overwhelmed, unsure of themselves, and so much more, adds licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST.
She notes that this can be especially true if someone had a firm idea of who they wanted to be or what they wanted to do career-wise, only to get there and realize it wasn’t actually the right fit for them. “It can be really devastating to find the reality of a job is very different than what you envisioned it to be,” she says.
Blaylock-Solar also notes that comparison can be a big trigger of quarter-life crises as well, such as seeing friends advance in their careers or get married. “There can be a sense of, ‘Why isn’t that happening for me? What’s wrong with me?'” she explains.
Unlike a midlife crisis, which tends to be more centered on “running out of time,” a quarter-life crisis implies an urgency to figure out how to even get to that midlife point in a way that works for you.