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Bad Advice: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Crisis

Your quarter-life crisis is a quarter-life opportunity.

by
Hannah Sternberg

Bio

July 31, 2013 - 9:00 am

Source: Shutterstock

1) The first part of getting over your quarter-life crisis is recognizing that life is not school.

Work will not be over at the end of the semester. You will not automatically progress to the next level as long as you hand everything in on time. There is no graduation.

A lot of people have already written bashing Millennials and their famous quarter-life crises as self-absorbed and entitled. While I think there’s some truth to that, there’s also a more compassionate explanation for why my generation seems to get so mopey after graduation: because the life of a full-time student has become so divorced from the experience of the average working life that even the most ambitious, hardworking, determined grads wind up hitting reality hard and wondering what happened to them. In fact, it’s the high achievers who seem to suffer the most — because if they’ve worked so hard to jump through the hoops at college, it could be because they bought into the idea that college represents real life and success there will prepare them for success outside. It’s a pretty rude awakening to go from that idea to reality: that your straight As and flawless club leadership landed you a spectacular gig as a part-time office assistant placed by a temp agency.

There are lots of young people who struggle with the transition from school to life, for reasons more serious than their yearning for the frat parties of yesteryear. Your twenties are a period of exploration, and if you read a little Dickens you’ll find that feeling lost and directionless at that age is not something that’s new to this generation, or even this century.

The first step to emerging from Millennial Malaise is to stop fighting the feeling that the world is unjust for not more closely resembling school. Dwelling on the pain of realizing that your grades don’t matter won’t make it any better. Stop seeking the same kind of rapid progress in your job or personal goals that you found in college. I’m not saying it’s not possible to make progress; but you’ll find that without the structure of a semester pushing you along, you can reach your goals at a different pace. Be patient. And try to enjoy the process, too. You might have a crap job at the bottom of the totem pole, but if you’re not weighed down with the responsibility of managing anyone else yet, enjoy the freedom a little. Try to learn from the people around you. You have more than three months to “finish” this assignment.

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