7 Quotes to Read When You’re Going Through a Quarter-Life Crisis

Advice from modern authors and thought-leaders to transform your 20s

Kelsey Kryger
Dec 20, 2020 · 7 min read
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Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash

you’ve recently graduated from university or are hustling through the unpredictable period in life known as your 20s, you may be experiencing the phenomenon known as a quarter-life crisis: a period of intense soul searching and stress occurring in your mid-20s to early 30s, according to The Muse. Though less popular than its counterpart, the mid-life crisis, more young individuals seem to be experiencing this phase. According to a study by LinkedIn, 75% of 25–33-year-olds have experienced quarter-life crises. These crisis periods are triggered by an overall feeling of unease in all areas of life — from careers to relationships.

Personally, I was one of the few that seemed to experience an early-onset quarter-life crisis. It felt like as soon as I flipped the tassel and received the mighty college degree, I was launched straight into a downward spiral of confusion. Every aspect of my life felt slightly…uncertain. Questions loomed around my job, relationship, friendships, the city I was living in, and more.

I remember feeling so alone during this period in my life. No one was relating to what I was experiencing, and nothing substantial was coming up on my Google searches about the subject. I now realize that we’re all on our own journeys, and people may experience this at different times in their lives. And when a quarter-life crisis does hit, depression, uncertainty, and frustration may arise.

As I started to come up on the other end of my own quarter-life crisis, I acknowledged the importance of mindfulness, self-motivation, and honesty with yourself. The result? I became a personal development junkie. Reading quotes by my favorite authors and thought-leaders helped guide me through the darkness, becoming one of my favorite past times. And while a zing of inspiration won’t necessarily launch you into instant happiness and mental clarity, quotes have the power to move you in the right direction.

Here are 10 quotes that helped me conquer my quarter-life crisis to live a more happy, and aligned life. I think they hold the power to help you, too.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” — Susan Jeffers

A simple, but extremely effective quote — when applied. Psychologist and Author, Susan Jeffers, wrote a book based on this sentiment. The book dives deep into how this quote served as her course of action through bouts of crippling fear that may have otherwise held her back.

During my quarter-life crisis, I went through a period of major insecurity in the process of switching careers. I was moving from politics to fitness training. It seemed like a complete 180, and I had little confidence that I would ever succeed.

The first position I applied for was to be an Indoor Cycling Instructor at a gym for $22/hour. I remember getting called for an audition and being hit with instant nausea. Sure, I had taken hundreds of indoor cycling classes at that point. But I didn’t know how to teach a class.

I found this class, and it helped me power through the initial anxiety. And guess what? I ended up getting the job. At the end of the day, it’s okay to feel scared when it comes to new opportunities or environments. But, a lot of good can come from allowing yourself to simply acknowledge the fear, and doing it anyway. You may be surprised at how much your self-confidence increases.

“Negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, you are supposed to do something.” — Mark Manson

Mark Manson is a genius in the Anti-Self Help genre. He wrote the #1 New York Times Bestselling Novel, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***. This quote happens to be featured.

Life comes in ebbs and flows. Some periods are characterized by the highest of highs, while others give us rejection and failures. These experiences can cause negative emotions to arise. The emotions may be particularly prominent when experiencing a quarter-life crisis.

We’ve been conditioned to push the “bad feelings” away; sadness, anger, confusion. It causes us to feel ashamed as if we’re doing something wrong. The truth is, negative emotions and feelings are nothing more than a call to action, as Manson cites.

These emotions are an opportunity for reflection and redirection. Rather than wallowing in it, the emotions can help us determine what parts of our lives need a little T.L.C. From there, we can make the necessary changes to living a more aligned life.

“You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I was attending university, I majored in political science. Every move I made revolved around my devised plan to be working in Washington D.C. after graduation. Fast forward 2 years later, I’m not even remotely working in politics.

I gave politics the ol’ college try. I worked a few different jobs in the field, but no matter the position, I felt completely unhappy. I kept trying to force myself to follow my plan. Soon, I discovered new interests and fell into work opportunities that meshed for me.

Too often do we, as Adichie says, write a script in our mind and force ourselves to follow it. The problem with this is that we’re constantly evolving. Our circumstances are constantly changing, as well as our environments, beliefs, and interests. It’s normal, and healthy, to outgrow the molds we crafted for ourselves years prior.

“Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won’t help you.” — Jeannette Winterson

How many times have you looked back on difficult periods in your life, and felt grateful for it? This quote by Jeannette Winterson really embodies that.

Not everything that progresses you will be a positive experience. Sometimes, life hands us obstacles that are meant to push our boundaries in order to grow. The path to our happiest life is not always sunshine and rainbows.

Perhaps it’s a toxic relationship, physical injury, or toxic job environment that are pushing your mental bounds. Just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not helping you grow. There are times in life where we have to live in temporary discomfort in order to blossom.

“Do not let anything that happens in your life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.” -Michael A. Singer

Singer dropped this wisdom bomb in his book, The Untethered Soul. In life, we are fueled by our hearts. If we experience heartbreak or deep love, all that we do will reflect the feelings we’re grappling with within our hearts.

For example, someone that is broken up with by a lover is more likely to close their hearts off to future relationships that would be more suitable for them. During a quarter-life crisis, it’s normal to experience rejections, criticism, and endings. What’s important for surviving and thriving through these experiences is keeping our hearts ajar.

When we keep our hearts open despite experienced trauma and turmoil, more things that are in alignment with us will fall our way; whether it be a new lover or a job.

“You have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don’t buy it. Create your own.” — Morrie Schwartz

Birth, go to school, graduate, get a steady job, buy a house, get married, have kids, work for someone else, retire…die? That seemed like the played-out script recycled to every single one of us. Personally, I had a problem with working a 9–5 job in a tiny cubicle while performing a bunch of mindless tasks I didn’t care about.

“There has to be more,” I thought to myself. And of course, there is. You just have to be willing to step out of the everyday norm and create new norms for yourself.

I didn’t see a lot of people in my everyday life living outside of this “culture” that Schwartz refers to in the above quote. But, the more I broadened my horizons online, the more I saw people living out the realities that I dreamt of for myself: writers, freelancers, online coaches. They were working for themselves from home or traveling the world comfortably. They had multiple streams of income and were doing things that they loved, on their own terms.

Entrepreneurship called me. When I expressed my want for this unconventional lifestyle, those closest to me scoffed. They didn’t think it was possible. Fortunately for me, I questioned the culture and created my own. Dare to step outside of pre-crafted boxes that don’t fit you.

“Stop comparing yourself to others. Always strive to improve yourself to become better today than you were yesterday to serve those around you and the world.” — Roy T. Bennett

How many times have you scrolled through your social media feeds, just to see one exciting announcement, after another? An engagement post here, an international travel photo dump there. And, oh — what’s that? Your best friend got a job promotion and your cousin just bought their dream house.

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, especially in our 20s and early 30s. We’re all on different paths, prioritizing all sorts of varying things. But, comparison often draws jealousy and insecurity.

Rather than comparing your current situation to someone else's, shift your energy towards yourself. What can you do to improve yourself, the world, and the lives of those around you? Everything occurs at the right time. As you focus on yourself and what you can control, different opportunities and people will come your way.

Final Thoughts

When experiencing drastic changes or times of uncertainty, it can cause us to question our beliefs and routine situations. Oftentimes, these experiences are what incite times of crisis in our respective lives. We’ve outgrown a former aspect of ourselves, and are shedding the skin. Growing pains, baby.

These quotes are not a one-stop-shop to happiness, but, they hold brutally honest truths that can empower you in your growth. They’ve given me the knowledge and ability to help me beat my quarter-life crisis. It’s up to you to apply them to your own life and let them fuel you.

Kelsey Kryger is a Freelance Writer and Fitness Professional. Subscribe to her newsletter here!

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Kelsey Kryger

Written by

8 Places to Find Your First Freelancing Clients — FREE GUIDE: https://rb.gy/j6fwns Freelance Writer + SMM. Fitness Pro. Work with me: kryger.kelsey@gmail.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join thousands of others making the climb on Medium.

Kelsey Kryger

Written by

8 Places to Find Your First Freelancing Clients — FREE GUIDE: https://rb.gy/j6fwns Freelance Writer + SMM. Fitness Pro. Work with me: kryger.kelsey@gmail.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join thousands of others making the climb on Medium.

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