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Dear Bad Advice,

I don’t know what to say. Nothing specifically is going wrong in my life, but I just don’t feel like it is where I want it to be. I’m only in my twenties, so I know I’m just getting started, but I can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing better. I have an okay job, a good group of friends, and an alright place, but I can’t stop thinking about the things I want: an even better job, a nicer apartment all to myself, more glamorous experiences. I feel like I’m stuck in spin cycle and I’m not getting any closer to the things I want, though. I still get help from my parents, and my job’s going nowhere and I’m not even sure if that’s what I want to do anymore, or what else I could do. Is there any way out?

-Quarter Life Crisis

I get this kind of question a lot from my friends. I’m no stranger to the quarter-life crisis; after all, while trying to think of the best way to write this column, I was looking at Game of Thrones embroidery and wondering if I was ever going to be as productive as I wish or as incredibly talented and skilled as the woman who created those costumes. Obviously I’d be a lot more productive if I weren’t spending hours on Buzzfeed whenever I got exhausted or discouraged, but that’s the sneaky part of the quarter-life crisis: I actually did write this column, and I will wake up tomorrow and keep doing things to pursue my goals (however long that might take) despite all my supposed time-wasting, but I won’t feel accomplished. Because life isn’t school, and those of us who were lucky enough to stay in school full-time until the age of 21 or 22 or even later have spent our entire conscious lives seeing goals as things that can be accomplished in a semester, and we get frustrated with anything with a longer lead time. We think that you have to crunch to get anything done, like studying for an exam; but life doesn’t have a lot of exams, and a lot of it is spent simply working slowly but steadily toward something that doesn’t have a handy pre-affixed date, like graduation.

This is going to sound like bad advice, but your quarter-life crisis isn’t a crisis. It’s just life.