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Transforming Quarter-life Crisis into Opportunity

18 Aug 2023 3 min read
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Ruby Liu MY

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Psychology in everyday life
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According to a recent study examining 1.5 million tweets from over 1,400 users in the UK and the US, individuals discussing the "quarter-life crisis" tend to share more posts about “complex emotions”, “feeling stuck in a rut”, “desiring change”, and “career”. These posts primarily revolve around thoughts about the future. It's evident that in the midst of insecurity and anxiety, people are contemplating how they can make meaningful changes in their lives to shape the future they desire. To shed light on this matter, let's explore insights from psychotherapists who have expertise in navigating such challenges.

Ask yourself what’s missing

Satya Doyle Byock, a psychotherapist groups quarterlifers into two categories: “stability types” and “meaning types”.

“Stability types” are seen by others as solid and stable. They prioritize a sense of security, succeed in their careers and may pursue building a family. “Meaning types” typically have intense creative passions but have a hard time dealing with day-to-day tasks, feeling overwhelmed to do what society expects of them as it can be discordant with their own sense of self that they seem to constantly be floundering.

While it may seem that “stability” and “meaning” are opposing attitudes and lifestyles, the truth is that they are not mutually exclusive. In reality, we often navigate between these two states, adjusting the proportions based on our current circumstances and needs. The crucial point is to develop a deeper understanding of our own inner desires and find a balance that is personally fulfilling. By being mindful of our individual needs and aspirations, we can strive for a harmonious equilibrium that resonates with who we are as individuals.

Satya thinks that quarter life is about becoming a whole person, learning to balance between stability and meaning. For example, stability types need to think about how to give their lives a sense of passion and purpose. And meaning types need to find security, perhaps by starting with a consistent daily routine that can both anchor and unlock creativity.


In a Forbes article, psychotherapist Tess Brigham presents the “PAUSE” approach to navigate the challenges of a quarter-life crisis. Here are the key steps she suggests: 

  • Practice mindfulness: Take time to understand your emotions, recurring thoughts, triggers that influence your actions, and the goals you're pursuing. Reflect on your concerns, identify the sources of your fears, and address them one by one through self-reflection and introspection.
  • Acknowledge your past: Your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and the world around you came from somewhere - look back at how your upbringing and experiences have shaped who you are today. Consider the influence of your parents and other significant figures in your life. Reflect on pivotal moments and redefine or affirm the values that have had the greatest impact on you. Did helping others, recognition for your talents, or career milestones play a significant role?
  • Understanding You Now: Take stock of your current needs and priorities. Recognize that our needs change over time. They may include aspects such as quality of life, finding meaning in your work, or financial stability. Identify what truly matters to you at this stage of your life.
  • Stop judging yourself: Looking back is about understanding yourself, not judging how people and events in the past have shaped who you are today. 
  • Enjoy the process: Instead of fixating on when the quarter-life crisis will end, focus on personal growth and the opportunities that lie ahead. Engage yourself in activities that keep you motivated and fulfilled. Explore ways to benefit yourself and channel the crisis into a transformative turning point.

Self-understanding is a lifelong lesson, and it's important to embrace vulnerability and malleability. By doing so, we can make small, incremental changes that contribute to our personal growth.


Cultivate a Circle of Believers in your life

Establish a supportive community that uplifts and motivates you, where individuals recognize and embrace each other's worth.  

Author Adam Smiley Poswolsky, who specializes in exploring the quarter-life crisis, shared his experience of working for the federal government in Washington, where he would come home every day and complain to his roommate, saying, “I hate my job, I don't want to continue like this.” His roommate, however, would sit there, sipping his beer and stare at him, saying, “Just accept it, everyone hates their job, that's life.”

Perhaps, in reality, a significant portion of the world shares the same mindset as that roommate, lacking enthusiasm for their work and feeling empty and frustrated each day. But when Smiley encountered other friends in a leadership program, they not only offered support but also asked him questions like, “When?” and “Have you talked to your boss about quitting?” Smiley sincerely shared, “When you find believers, you find accountability.” This means that when you find people who believe in your values and goals, they become the ones who constantly push you forward, encouraging you to achieve your goals.

Engaging in events, programs, and communities, whether in person or online, provides opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. By gradually sharing personal perspectives and stories, engaging in meaningful conversations, and fostering an open attitude and respect for diverse viewpoints, you increase your chances of finding your “Believers”. Together, you can create a positive atmosphere, bringing together individuals who share common beliefs and supporting one another on the path of personal growth.  


Life dances to its own rhythm, with highs and lows, twists and turns, like an enchanting electrocardiogram. It defies constant evolution, embracing change. Within its ebb and flow, new opportunities arise.

Just as the introduction to the song “quarter-life crisis” states: “Perhaps this ‘quarter-life crisis’ is inevitable, much like falling ill; But if they are truly alike, we will grow stronger by enduring.” To you, who have reached this point, may you seize the crisis as an opportunity, taking control of your own rhythm, Walk patiently, progressing towards the freedom that resides within your heart. 


Agarwal, S., Guntuku, S. C., Robinson, O. C., Dunn, A., & Ungar, L. H. (2020). Examining the Phenomenon of Quarter-Life Crisis Through Artificial Intelligence and the Language of Twitter. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 341. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00341

Eagan, M. K., Stolzenberg, E. B., Ramirez, J. J., Aragon, M. C., Suchard, M. R., & Rios-Aguilar, C. (2016). The American freshman: Fifty-Year trends, 1966–2015. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

Psychology in everyday life
Mental health 101
Community mental health
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Ruby Liu MY

Well-being Promotion Officer of Jockey Club TourHeart+ Project

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