Till you graduate from University, you’re essentially a kid and have had your parents hold your hand through life. You haven’t had to worry about paying bills, living independently or climbing the big and intimidating mountain called a ‘career’. But the time to graduate has come and you’ve got to make the great leap into the unknown world of adulthood – and it doesn’t look as awesome or glamorous as it did from the outside. Plus, you’ve never really learned about being an adult. There’s no class teaching you the dos and don’ts of life so if you’re feeling directionless it’s because there’s no compass for post-grad living. Whether you’re going through a post-grad crisis or not, the most important thing to remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Linked-in’s official blog 75 per cent of 25 to 33-year-old individuals are doing through, or have experienced, a quarter life crisis. So there’s nothing abnormal about what you’re feeling. Here’s how to find your new lay of land and win at living life again!
What is a Quarter Life Crisis?
The internet defines a Quarter life crisis as ‘a crisis that involves anxiety and uncertainty over the direction of one’s life. It usually occurs in your 20s, but for some young adults, it can start as young as 18 years. It may sound silly to have a ‘Life crisis’ when most people believe your life really begins in your 20s, but this is real. A Quarter Life Crisis is a crippling fear most young adults face, when they’re usually in their 20s, and surfaces around the time they reach their last semester of university where they have to face the inevitable dread of graduation.
Graduation is all fun and games when all you’re thinking about is no longer having to face those deadlines and the daunting group presentations in front of deadly silent lecture halls; but what’s next? After studying for literally all your life, how do you leave that behind and actually begin your career?
That’s when the anxiety and fear kicks in. The fear of the unknown. Yeah you have a degree, but what do you do with this degree? It’s a stark jump from
University Life to the work force and it’s really where the notion of a quarter life crisis originates.
Simply put, it’s the fear of not knowing what to do and how to do it; after the comfort and security that university provides us with is taken away.
Symptoms of a Post-grad Crisis:
- You always feel a little depressed and lost.
- You’re anxious and constantly feel your self-worth diminishing.
- You suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ – when you questions your accomplishments and think you’re living someone else’s life.
- You’re constantly questioning your self-worth.
- You’re constantly exhausted, have low energy and feel overwhelmed by everything.
Common Post-Grad Fears:
Will I Get A Job?
You WILL get a job. It may not happen overnight and you may graduate without one, but that doesn’t mean you’re a loser or inadequate. “I graduated last year and applied for a ton of jobs,” Stef*, a 22-year-old graduate from Heriott-Watt University, confesses. “It’s so hard out there.” It may be but that doesn’t mean you don’t fill your life doing something productive. Build a skill set while you’re waiting to hear back. Want to get into media? Learn how to edit a video while you’re interviewing; not only will it impress future employers, you’ll be using your time effectively and feeling gainful.
If you can’t find full-time employment yet, then intern as much as you can. Build a portfolio, amp up your CV and you’ll already feel more productive.
Do I Move Out Of My Parents’ Place?
If you can’t afford it yet, then don’t. There’s no shame in it. Save your rent instead of blowing it on stuff you don’t need. Or save till you feel like you can afford to move out. And let’s be real, this is not the west; it’s totally okay to live with your parents, actually it’s encouraged and considered culturally appropriate.
If you’re not happy with your lack of independence, then remember it’s only for a certain amount of time. Save your cash and when you’re in a more stable place, you’ll be able to get your own apartment and actually feel good about it.
Does Taking A Gap Year Right After Graduation Affect my Employability?
There are only a few times in your life when you can actually take time out to travel and explore yourself. Before life and responsibilities kick in, post-uni is the perfect time to gather life experience and depending on what you do, it may actually improve your chances of employment drastically. If Netflix and Chill is your thing, then you’re not really going to impress anyone or make the most of life. But if you’re going to backpack to cool places, get an internship, do something pro bono or work in charity…. then that’s going to take you places and make you grow in ways you couldn’t in a classroom or at a desk. And that’s pretty priceless.
What If I Follow A Field That Isn’t Related To My Degree At All?
There’s no hard and fast rule for what you should do for the rest of your life. What does matter is the work experience you get while you’re in Uni or after. If you’ve studied Engineering and want to work in publishing instead, get the right internships, explore your skill set and invest in your knowledge of the field you want to get into. That is what ultimately will get you places.
Why do I feel constantly lost?
You’re treading unchartered territory here. Life post Uni is nothing like you’ve known so far. Going to work, starting at the bottom of the food chain, dealing with a boss (whether bad or good), is an alien existence. You’re suddenly solely responsible for rent, groceries and are running the show. It’s not easy. If you’re feeling lost, it’s because you’ve never been here before and there’s no Waze pointing the way. Take it a little easy – you’ll figure it out eventually. And FYI, life always throws you curveballs; figuring your way is part of the fun.
Go Easy On Yourself
Half the reason you’re in a crisis is because you’re putting pressure on yourself. Give yourself some TLC and breathe. One the best ways to make yourself feel like you have control over your life is getting a plan together. Ask questions, create a plan, take it a step at a time and you’ll eventually walk the talk.
Get Those Endorphins Going
Exercise releases endorphins – the happy hormone – which make you feel pretty awesome. Go for a run, a swim or even a walk will make you feel good, more energised and ready to take anything on – just the kind of attitude to kill a Quarter life crisis!
Express What You’re Feeling
We can’t stress this enough – you’re not alone. Chances are, you’ve got a ton of friends going through the same thing. Sharing how you feel and being open will get you everywhere. Don’t isolate yourself and feel embarrassed about not being where you think you should be. Comparison is Generation Z’s largest evil.
Create a Routine
Even if you haven’t found a dream job yet, that’s totally okay. You can still feel productive. Wake up on time, have a routine and do stuff – whether it is applying for jobs, networking or simply putting yourself out there, there’s a method to all the madness and there’s nothing like structure to make you feel great about your day again.
Be A Self-Starter
If you can’t find the job you love yet, or any job at all for that matter, it’s okay. Want to be a photographer? Pick up the camera and start your own Insta account. A journalist? Start your own blog. The great thing about social media is, you can be anything you want to be and if you do a good enough job at it, you’ll get the audience and attention you rightly deserve. You don’t need to necessarily di a 9 to 5 to feel like you’re going somewhere. Where you go and how well you do is ultimately only up to YOU!