Having a Quarterlife Crisis is not normally seen as a positive event. I get that. I mean, the word “crisis” is present… And most of us don’t associate anything great coming from a quarterlife “crisis” or midlife “crisis” or identity “crisis” or even a wardrobe “crisis” for that matter!
But there is a golden lining to this Quarterlife Crisis.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life has changed in the last four years and how it wouldn’t have been possible without hitting my personal rock bottom first. I’ve also gotten a rash of emails and phone calls from old clients who’ve experienced so much positive change in their lives since facing their QLC (or midlife or new mama or I’ve-been-fired crisis) head on.
It’s cemented. These times of transition and seeking and pain can be good for us.
5 Reasons Why the Quarterlife Crisis is Good for You
1. It forces to you re-evaluate your priorities. When your life turns upside down, you have no choice but to really examine: What do I care about? What’s not working in my life? What does seem to be working? And the biggie: If “this” isn’t working for me, what might instead?
So many times we’re acting on the expectations of someone else (society, our parents, that influential first husband) simply because we don’t know any differently. We though doing things correctly was our ticket to happiness. Do well in school, get a great job, snag that promotion, find an amazing partner, check, check, check.
No one ever taught us how to define our own personal values or the importance of happiness as the fuel to success. By sloshing around in the pit of a crisis, we have no choice. Picking ourselves up and moving forward forces us to re-examine priorities on our own terms.
2. It opens you up to new possibilities, crazy as they may seem. When your first (second, third) version of your life doesn’t make your heart sing, you eventually come to the conclusion that your path may require something else from you.
Something wild. Something new. Something different.
Your new possibility is probably something you had never even imagined back in university. Or perhaps you dreamed about it, but dismissed it as crazy. Entrepreneur? Gluten-free Baker? Stay at home Mama? Movement therapist? Writer? World Traveler? Pshaw.
But when the only world you know comes crashing down around your ears in a over-committed, over-alcholed, over-making-every-one-else-happy pile–you are forced to consider those “crazy” options. Consider them and try them on for size and find the most amazing you version of you.
3. Sometimes hitting bottom is the only way to rise to the top in a meaningful way. I always think of this quote from Po Bronson when I’m looking back, fondly, on my own Quarterlife Crisis: “Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.”
What if I hadn’t hit bottom? Would I be still be a sales manager in my black suit and heels and fake mask? Would I be happy? Would my life have the meaning and richness it does now?
I think not. I thank my QLC for showing me the fissures in my own life, for giving me the chance to rediscover myself in such a juicy, fulfilling way.
4. It allows you to declare a personal emergency. Emergencies require immediate attention, right? A Quarterlife Crisis requires attention too. It requires support from people who’ve been there or are in the midst with you. It requires you to put your “life plan” on hold, so you craft the authentic version.
Giving your apathy and confusion a name allows you to become the boss of it, instead of letting it sneak into every corner of your life and paralyze you with it’s wily doubts. It allows you to declare battle, to approach it with the strength of an Amazon warrior.
You are suddenly on a quest to save your own life. And that’s a pretty special experience.
5. Your compassion expands exponentially. Suddenly, you (the girl who always had her shit together) is experiencing not knowing what to do next. Not knowing what to do right now. Not knowing how you got to this point in the first place.
Your compassion for the world, for those who are struggling in any capacity, expands because you suddenly know what it’s feels like to lose control over your life.
Obviously, a Quarterlife Crisis is by no means a devastating natural disaster, revolt, or life threatening illness. But in experiencing your own personal upheaval, you develop the capacity to hold space in your heart for others who are hurting. Hold space and then take action to help.
After all, practice makes perfect…
Even if you’re right in the middle of the QLC, can you see how you’re growing? How it’s changing you? The (ahem, ahem) advantages of having to rethink everything?
I’d love to hear your story or your additions to this list in the comments below. What else have your learned from this crazy adventure, dear one?