We've all heard of a midlife crisis but, no one talks about the quarter-life crisis that has become more of an issue in recent years. It's the “I have no job, no money, no direction and I'm living with my parents!” crisis. Entering the real world after twenty years in a structured environment can cause culture shock and disillusionment. The structure starts in elementary school, and continues through middle school and high school. My clients knew that they needed to get good grades to get into a good college. They got into college and they knew what they had to do to graduate. The end goal was a diploma. But then what? After graduation nothing is as clearly defined as it was in school and there are no rules guiding them from point A to point B.
Twenty-somethings are faced with an overwhelming number of options (“You can be anything you want to be,”“You have your whole life in front of you,”“These are the best years of your life”…). The number of choices twenty-somethings enounter can inspire hope but can also make a recent graduate feel lost and confused.
Therapy can help normalize this confusion and support twenty-somethings in finding their own path. I help my clients understand who they are independently of what they do for a living, which helps to increase their confidence and self esteem.
Many twenty-somethings are firmly mired in a decade of confusion. Below are some of the challenges that my clients face:
- With high school and/or college friends scattered around the country (or even the globe), establishing new friendships can prove challenging. Loneliness is exacerbated when work doesn't involve interacting with employees of a similar age.
Multiple and/or challenging romantic relationships:
- The norms of dating and sexual relationships are constantly shifting. The twenties are a time of exploration, but the road to a healthy relationship can be fraught with frustration and heartache.
- This challenge runs the gamut from those who simply can't find a job that pays a sustainable wage (let alone a meaningful job), to those who have done everything “right,” yet find their work unchallenging or downright demoralizing.
Lack of independence:
- Many of my clients have had to move back in with their parents, a change which can leave them feeling frustrated and can create a strained family dynamic. They have left an environment where they were totally responsible for themselves, and entered an environment where they now have curfews and have to follow rules that were set for them when they were a teenager. Parents don't want to see their kids struggle or make mistakes, but it's important for them to realize that this is not their journey -- it's their child's journey. Twenty-somethings need to be given the freedom and support to make their own decisions, make their own mistakes, and follow their own path, wherever it may lead them.
- Excessive drinking and/or drug use are a problem at any age, but many clients first discover that they are headed down a dangerous path in their twenties.