What is Quarter-Life?
After WWII there was a change in society due to industrialisation and globalisation. Jobs required more training which meant children stayed in school longer and entered the workforce later. This also meant that they gained financial independence and got married later in life. Both marriage and financial independence are two aspects that people strongly associated with adulthood.
Prior to WWII there was no life stage in between childhood and adulthood as most people went straight from school into work at a younger age, whereas, after WWII there was a new extended period before adulthood. This stage has come to be known as adolescence. Due to new technology, globalisation and changes in the economic market, further education is required to start a career and this has caused a new life stage. This stage is known as the quarter-life or emerging adulthood; it typically occurs from the years of 18 to 25 but can extend to age 29.
What is a Quarter-Life Crisis and why do they occur?
During someone’s quarter-life there are many possibilities and choices. The individual has typically finished school and is starting to transition into a full-time career. This may involve tertiary study and gaining work experience or getting a job and progressing within a company. Due to Globalisation, economic changes, rising living costs, increasing debt and higher unemployment rates it can be a difficult time period. The younger generation is competing for jobs with the older generations who already have the skills and experience. It now takes longer for younger generations to reach financial independence and move out of home, yet there is still pressure to reach these life stages at the same age their parents did. People also tend to get married later which adds to this feeling of a delayed adulthood.
Some young people deal with these pressures well and others have a bit more trouble. Financial and emotional support are two factors which effect how a young person deals with these pressures and moves into adulthood. For some young people, particularly those with a lack of support, the quarter-life period may be a stressful time. It is a time of uncertainty and they may have negative thoughts and feelings about what their future holds. They may experience anxiety, panic attacks or depression. This can be known as a quarter-life crisis.
How can a Quarter-Life Crisis be treated?
It is important for the young person to remember that it can be difficult to become financially dependent earlier in life in today’s society and to not pressure themselves to achieve everything all at once. Setting smaller realistic goals may help, as well as trying not to take mistakes or failures (such as not getting a job) too personally. If a young person does experience extended periods of anxiety, depression or are worried about their mental health, they should seek professional guidance.