My Life

The Quarterlife Crisis is So Real Out Here

A year ago, I wrote a piece for Clutch Magazine called The Quarterlife Crisis is Real because it is outchea. And I wanted to revisit it. A year later, I’m still like “SOMEONE GIVE ME A MAP!” Anywho, it’s reposted here with their permission and with edits of foolishment.

We’ve heard so much about the Midlife Crisis, but not enough about the Quarterlife. It refers to a phase of uncertainty and inner chaos for young people who are transitioning to adulthood. Between the ages of 25 and 35, the Quarterlife Crisis can hit you, filling you with confusion and turmoil about life in general. You’re outchea walking around like someone who used Apple Maps. SHADE.

But listen… the Quarterlife Crisis is real out here, and if someone says it isn’t, they’re a liar and a cheat (-_-).

We’re supposed to be “adults” now, and have life figured out to a certain extent. But we find ourselves waking up and wondering what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives and if we’re even doing it. Are we where we should be? Some of us might even feel conflicted when we realize that we might have found our purpose, but then wonder if we’re working hard enough at it. It’s a time of lots of questions and not enough answers. Some of us just spend our time busting out *wall slides* at random intervals.

wallslide gif

Life’s manual kinda stops at “Graduate from college.” We flip the page and it’s blank, waiting for us to fill in the rest. We have so many skills and passions but we don’t know where to direct our next efforts. This is ultimately the biggest problem for us Quarterlifers. Sometimes, having TOO many choices can be just as binding as having too few. There are so many things we could be doing, so how can we pick one? Our awesomeness is totally at fault here. (-_-)

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both.” (ROBERT FROST SPEAKS MY TRUTH!!! *kicks down a chair*)

That fork in the road is not gonna take itself.

We’re in our 20s or early 30s. We’re global citizens who are skilled at many things, and passionate about even more. Our choices are endless, and we’re confused. We’re like birds with no internal GPS.

As Generation Millennia, we’re even MORE disposed to this crisis because nothing is set in stone for us anymore. Baby Boomers had a path to take: go to school, graduate, get married, have kids, get a job, stay in that job, retire. That’s what they often did. But, we’re different.

A lot of us aren’t married, or have kids. Nothing ties us to being really grounded. Plus, Generation Millennia is also Generation Fickle. We’re usually not one to stay at one job for 20-30 years. We change careers more fluidly. Our resumes are 3 pages long at age 27 (true story) and it’s because we’ve held 5 jobs in 5 years. Or we’re just so dope that 1 page resumés do us no justice.

now what cartoon

Having “good” jobs doesn’t cut it anymore. We want to live purpose-driven lives, and pursue our dreams. But this often comes at the expense of the “grown up” life we’re supposed to be living. You know, the one with the 2.5 kids, white picket fence, nice savings account and 401(k)? Yes that one. That awkward moment when you check your bank balance and want to cry in your tea because you’re poor. Yeah that happens at least twice a month. Chasing your dreams can get expensive.

And sometimes, you want to abandon those dreams for the 9-5 that will guarantee you a paycheck every 2 weeks. You even look for jobs and see how much you’d be making RIGHT NOW if you had a regular job and you wonder if you aren’t making a mistake by trying to do this on your own. But then you say “I’MA DO IT ANYWAY! YOLO!”

We have SO many choices. And with that comes an even realer fear of failure, because if we fail, it is solely because of those choices. The world is our oyster, but we don’t know which pearl to pick. “If I woulda gone with the blue door instead of the red door, I might have…” That is what adds the pressure. What is we gon do?!?

I realize these are all First World Problems. We’re just too phenomenal for our own good. Yet and still, we have decisions to make that impact our next 20 years and the rest of our lives. And it makes us nervous. Well, it makes ME nervous. The Quarterlife Crisis is just really confusing. If only life had it’s own Google Map.


I want to write a poem called “Ain’t I A Quarterlifer?” And the last line would be “Phenomenal confusion, phenomenally!”

Robert Frost wrote:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Word, Robert. Word. He must have written this when he was a Quarterlifer.

Where’s Iyanla to fix my Quarterlife??? Who else feels like this?

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  1. dmaclee
    October 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    *Sighs* and kicks over a Dora the Explorer plush toy…

    I’m 35 and thought I went through this already. At 25, I had just graduated from college, starting teaching and was pregnant. I didn’t have time to wallow in this feelings then because I had to get my weight up to be a single parent. Now I’m married with a hood Brady bunch and have been teaching for 10 years and I’m like “what’s next?!?!?” My husband is 11 years older than me and is always looking at me sideways when I start contemplating the path of my life.

  2. Shaleen
    October 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I’m only 24 but I’m starting to feel that crisis! Actually I’m sacred of it! Mainly because of the $$$$$. I work in a field that is very difficult to get in and make money but I don’t see myself doing anything else but I don’t want to struggle forever! *LE SIGH*

  3. Kina
    October 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I know how you feel Luvvie. The Quarterlife is overwhelming! Imagine being 35, looking back and realizing that you’d accomplished nothing or very little in your 17 years of adulthood. I refuse to get on that struggle bus.

  4. Keshia
    October 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    At 25yrs old I know I’ve done way more than others in my family and I’m grateful for those opportunities, but there are still many days that I feel completely unaccomplished. I’m constantly trying to re-evaluate certain areas of my life and rearrange goals and personal timelines when my day to day life forces me to take several seats and chill. This quarter life biz is not hot! *slides off couch*

  5. October 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I’m adding this post to that blank page after “Graduate From College”…I’ll use it as motivation.

    E’em though I’m still fresh in my 20s (livin independently w/ 2 semesters left. Woop!)this struggle is all too real. I get the shakes just thinkin bout what I’ll be doin in the next 10-20 years..
    Good read, Luvvie. Thanks

  6. Dominique
    October 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    That gif! That was me at least once a day from 24-26. LAWD! My quarter life crisis coincided with the recession. You can imagine how that went. Because I was unemployed (or working part time) for most of it, my daily schedule usually involved a lot of wall sliding, rolling around on the floor and throwing things. If anyone tells you they aren’t real, BURN THEM AT THE STAKE! *brings flame thrower*

    • Miss Hope
      October 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      The wall slide gif almost took my life!!!

      I quit what could have been considered a good job to go back to school to get my Masters…why? Cuz I was so not feeling the field I was in. So I was trying to plan ahead to avoid the quarterlife crisis. And of course I’m all excited bout graduating but guess when I got done? 2008. Wompy McWomperson. I been unemployed, working part-time and underemployed with all my fabulousness! Life just ain’t e’em fair sometimes.

      Thank goodness things have changed for the better since then…but I still gotta work on filling these blank pages tho :S

  7. Grace
    October 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Luvvie! I’m a long time reader, first time commenter– Anyway,I totally agree with this post- soo relevant!! the shenanigans of trying to figure out what to do & how to do it best with sooo many opportunities is ridic. There was an article in NYT a coupla months ago that I thought had an interesting perspective- it was called “Follow a Career Passion? Let it Follow You” Sept 29,2012, and the author was Cal Newport.

  8. Asia
    October 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Ugh! I’m definitely going through a Quarterlife Crisis right now. I’m 23 and according to society, has done everything right. Graduated high school (salutatorian), went to college and joined clubs, volunteer work, an internship at a news station as well as maintaining a pretty good GPA on top of having a part-time job. Now I’m a college graduate that works at a movie theater with some teenagers…I have always wondered what have I done wrong? True enough I didn’t expect to be making 50 thousand a year or anything coming right out of college, but after being out of there for over a year, I see myself at some entry level position by now! Now I’m contemplating whether or not I should go to grad school. That’s even more debt for me and I’m trying to decide whether or not I should major in something else as well. It’s just so confusing and it feels as if my mother doesn’t know what to say to me except for “keep trying” because she didn’t go through this when she was my age. Back in the 80s, college wasn’t mandatory in order to live a middle class life. Nowadays, it’s “you better go to college or you’re screwed.” Well I went and I’m living the life of a 16 year old. No car, live with parents, and have a part-time job. I don’t even feel like an adult! Times are really hard and all I can hope for is a needed change like now!

  9. October 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Hey Yall! !

    I’m 22 graduated college May 2011 ready to take over the world then #fail && like Asia I felt like I had done everything right! I got involved in school did it all, traveled outside the black Rutgers inner circle!! I mean sheesh! I was on & poppin. I had a major crisis after I graduated & couldn’t find a job. Like seriously sad, but I worked it all out. I now have a plan w/ what I want and plan to do with life. But for about 8 months I was a hot stankin mess and I really had to dig deep. I feel like I’m a better person for it tho! For real. I sound hella cliche-ish but for real! I don’t know how 23 + will be but if I’m living in the present I’m good.

    Keep going yall! =)

  10. Kristen
    October 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve been here. At 25 I was in sheer terror. I had been working in my career for a year and was like…Is this it?? I was ever so grateful for it had even prayed for this career and now…now… yea…nothing.

    So here I am almost 6 years later climbing the ladder of success o_O that often seems like a glass ceiling is near, no children, not married contemplating once again if this is all there is. Or should I dare to simply take one more leap.

    Yes Luvvie, The Quarterlife is Real.

  11. Jocy
    October 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    “Strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song…” You and Mr. Frost have me out here like Roberta Flack all day. I started law school two months before my 26th birthday. I am now a full-fledged attorney who runs her own solo practice. And rubs my pennies together vigorously enough to light a forest fire. But I am living my Claire Huxtable dream and exploring my passion – minus the doctor husband and cute kids. The beautiful part about the Quarterlife crisis is that lesser people than us have survived it. We are all brilliant and talented people. The world just hasn’t taken enough notice yet. Strive on Quaterlifers! We’ll make it!

  12. October 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    aaaaahhh!! *wall slide*
    I’ll be 28 in december. Married (blah). 2 kids. 4 years of college, no degree and I’m pulling my hair out! I want to scream YOLO so bad but with the added responsiblity of kids and the sole provider of income (the recession is hard on a brother that’s done time) i’m scaaard!
    BUT I have come to the conculsion that if i’m going to be poor and living check to check I might as well be doing something I love!
    I’m starting my business plan and getting my ducks in a row to start my own company. the idea of it has given me life. & even if I fail I’ll be able to tell my kids “i tried!”

    • October 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Entrepreneurship is the way to go! Best of Luck!!!

  13. naj
    October 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Yes! This was right on time! I forgot about this and I realize that this is what I’ve been dealing with for the past 4 years! Thank you!

  14. October 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Luvvie! Girl! Gurl! You wrote this just for me huh? I know you did. If this ain’t what my life’s been since graduating smh. Multiple wall slides occur every time a bill hits my mailbox lol. Reading this post and the other comments makes me feel a little better. I know I’m not the only one going through this so I don’t feel as crazy or that much of a complete FAIL.

  15. Stacy
    October 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Omg, thank you this sermon. I am terrified about the next few months, not the next few years. I mean all those student loans I took out and have no degree to show for it nor a full time job to pay for them all, I mean damb it all. The quarterlife struggle is so real. Why nobody warned me that this was gonna happen? Oh well, I guess we that are in the struggle just gonna have to face up to it and fill in the pages with a pencil that has a really good eraser.

    • Tsipa
      October 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      “…face up to it and fill in the pages with a pencil that has a really good eraser.”

      Haha, I love this. Well said. 🙂

  16. Tsipa
    October 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Grace -I read that article too! It was so helpful that I bookmarked it to read regularly.

    Luvvie – thanks for this article. It’s so good to know there are other people who feel this way! I’ve been feeling the quarter-life crisis for seven or eight years now (I’m 31) and I just changed everything in my life (divorced, moved, lost my job and got a new one, went back to school). The right track seems closer now, but it’s still a struggle, especially since I have negative money from recurring medical problems/school debt. I’m actually poorer than when I was growing up, which is kind of impressive.

    HOWEVER: I’m finally going to finish my bachelor’s degree, dammit! I’m not in a soul-sucking job! I’m doing things to enrich my life! For now I have to remind myself of those small (read: HUGE AWESOME KICKASS) victories.

  17. October 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    This is generation #struggle. Between student loans, high unemployment and mortgage rates doing the wop, there’s not much to look forward to 🙁

  18. Toodliscious
    November 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    *taps the mic*

    Let me speak on it for a second….that Quarterlife crisis is REAL.

    It murked me *hard* when I was around 29/30.
    I woke up in bed one day like “WTF???..Im not married, no kids, no man, dont own a home, bank account is 6 ft under…what da hayle have I been doing with my life?!?!?!?”

    And thats when it hit me hard that basically, outside of fate,luck, talent or connections…nobody cares how smart, witty or intelligent you are. If you didnt do what you were supposed to do in college then thats pretty much a wrap…FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

    I pretty much did that wall slide gif for the next year every time I brooded on this hard cold fact of reality.

    Fortunately, I got real and got pragmatic and found a career path that 1) enjoy and 2) there is opportunity for upward mobility. the downside is, Im not really living in an area where I can pursuit that career as much as I would like so….

    Right now its about surviving, with the hope soon that a bytch will be able to thrive.

  19. Ambar
    November 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Is it possible for this to start earlier than 25? I am 21 and only a year away from graduating college and having a damn panic attack of the same caliber that you just explained.

  20. November 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    26 and confused as a fool. I’m currently in grad school, I have a good idea of what I want to do with my life, no I know what I want to do with my life nonetheless I still find myself disgustingly frightened and overwhelmed and unsure of how it’s all gonna fall down at times and end up bustin a move similar to homegirl in your gif up top. That qlc is real and it is real out here in these streets but I also understand that this is necessary and beautiful because the bottom line is pressure either makes diamonds or busts pipes. You either sink or swim, do or die, let life continue to beat you down to the point of embarrassment, and it will best you a few times, or you gather yourself together, find you a sensei and make the karate kid. In a lot of ways it feels like a second child hood except better cause you grown and essentially you can do what you want. When I’m not filled with dread and despair, I’m completely inspired and in awe of this trip called life and all the possibilities. I know it sounds a bit cheesy but it’s real though. Growing pains hurt, but growth is good and if you follow your passions even when you are uncertain and terrified you will always end up where you are meant to be.

  21. Bebe
    November 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    This is the truth! I am 30 and recently been struggling with a depression reboot over the lack of progress in my life. I quit my only true “job” about 2 years after college, returned to grad school, quit that, and am now back at grad school in a different field. I don’t think I would’ve ever left college or high school if I knew this is what I would be facing. I’ve done more than most (I live abroad, go to a good school, etc.) BUT I am unhappy and unfulfilled. Jesus take the wheel… there has to be more than this.

  22. Krystle
    November 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not alone. I’m 26, a college grad not using my degree, but up until 2 weeks ago had a decent job with decent pay (I got fired due to shady management). So now my Quarterlife crisis is back. I’m the oldest of my cousins, but I feel like the biggest failure. Everyone else has carrers lined up, apartments, significant others…and here I am, still living with my grandparents and really not sure what’s next. Some days I’m fine, but others I’m not…and mainly it’s because other family members make me feel bad about myself, whether they realize it or not. I try to ignore them, but it’s hard. Family can often be your worst enemy because they have these expectations for you and they often don’t realize how different things are in the world now.

  23. Shar
    March 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Glad to know I wasn’t the only one.

  24. […] to let us LIVE, we’re like WTF? I should go work at K-Mart. Womp. I already wrote about the Quarterlife Crisis and how it has us in this loop but […]

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