Option Paralysis: The Quarterlife Crisis

Kate Car­raway sums up that mod­ern exist­en­tial angst exper­i­enced by count­less twentyso­methings: The Quarter­life Crisis, a some­what dis­abling mix of akrasia, apathy and ennui brought on by a num­ber of real­isa­tions.

This phe­nomen­on, known as the “Quarter­life Crisis,” is as ubi­quit­ous as it is intan­gible. Unre­lent­ing inde­cision, isol­a­tion, con­fu­sion and anxi­ety about work­ing, rela­tion­ships and dir­ec­tion is repor­ted by people in their mid-twen­ties to early thirties who are usu­ally urb­an, middle class and well-edu­cated; those who should be able to cap­it­al­ize on their youth, unpar­alleled free­dom and free-for-all indi­vidu­ation. They can­’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be any­one they want.

Some­what in the midst of such a twentyso­mething void myself (or at least I can sense its advance), am I alone in not resign­ing myself to this ‘crisis’? This art­icle seems to sug­gest so, and I doubt this.

As Michael Kim­mel is quoted as say­ing:

The Quarter­life Crisis is a kind of anti­cip­at­ory crisis: ‘How is my life going to turn out? I don’t have a clue; I don’t have a map; I don’t have a vis­ion for it.’

To simply just accept this situ­ation seems almost insult­ing.

Update: Ben Cas­nocha has also writ­ten about The Quarter­life Crisis, link­ing to some of his oth­er great art­icles that cov­er sim­il­ar ground.

2 thoughts on “Option Paralysis: The Quarterlife Crisis

  1. Daisy Swan

    I appre­ci­ate your blog post on the Quarter­life Crisis…Not only did I exper­i­ence my own when I was 25–27, but also work with many cli­ents going through this. It’s a tender and con­fus­ing time, but not neces­sar­ily neces­sary. You don’t have to resign your­self to this exper­i­ence. Many find the resi­li­ence to roll with the adven­ture of not know­ing. And I do find that most people who are awake and alive do come upon a time of import­ant reflec­tion – wheth­er at 30, 45, 49 or 55. There is always growth and it’s usu­ally uncom­fort­able. And then, enliven­ing.

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