Emotion & Well-being Health & Vitality

Are University Students Going Through A Quarter-Life Crisis? The Importance of Patience in Establishing Your Identity.

Safe to say, us young adults can get confused sometimes. This time can be characterised by a great degree of emotional instability, doubt, a lack of self-confidence and not really knowing who the heck we really are or where we belong. But why do we feel this way, and whats the psychological theory explaining the characteristics of this life stage?

Most of you reading this, aged 18-25, might be aware that you’re currently going through a period of major change and development. A period where most of us will struggle to understand the direction that our life is heading in, along with feelings of emotional instability. The best way to describe our current status, whether you’re aware of it or not is that the greater majority of people aged 18-25 are going through a so-called quarter-life crisis.

A quarter-life crisis? 

What, a quarter life crisis? Although an unusual term, this statement does actually hold some theoretical value. As I already said, we’re going through a period of profound change and development. Something that happens to all of us is that we start to explore ourselves. It’s the time where we seek to understand our own identity and desire to understand who we really are. We simply start to experiment with ourselves in order to find our niche in society. But how do we do this?

This is a time for identity exploration.

Well, as we know by now, everyone is different and so everyone has their own ways of figuring out who they really are. Some of us may make a commitment to do very well at university. Other’s may begin to start doing what they always wanted to do. Things like starting a business or finding a new hobby. Other’s think they need to start engaging in risky and reckless shit like drunk driving, sex without a condom, substance abuse, all that nasty stuff. Suicidal thoughts are nothing new by the way. The point is this – during this period of change, we seek to try out various new things and experiences. These experiences help us shape the direction of our lives and help us find our place in society. Scientists refer to this period of self-discovery as ’emerging adulthood’. 

No matter the situation, never let your emotions overpower your intelligence.

Let’s consider the aspect of emotional instability. Whilst we are at university, we notice that life will probably begin to throw a couple of right hooks at us. We notice that we have to take on a lot more responsibility as we seek to become independent. We have to deal with the stresses of university, apply for jobs, keep in shape, making our own meals, do our laundry and in the midst of all this, wipe our ass once a day. Although some of these tasks may seem more monstrous than others, they all help in our pursuit of independence. Most people refer to this process as ‘getting my life together’. And it’s hard. Alright, it’s very hard. I see so many students every day, frustrated by the new responsibilities of adolescence. It’s difficult to cope with them, as we begin to notice that the real world is a tough place and that we can’t have everything we want, just because we want it.

We are in a transitional state with non-articulated futures.

Yet there is also some good news. The quarter-life crisis we’re going through is only temporary. It doesn’t actually last forever. I mean sure we have the mid-life crisis to look forward to… but hey let’s look at the positive side. By the time we reach 25, most of us will have established a solid sense of identity. During this time, our symptoms of what we like to refer to as our ‘depressions’ gradually decrease, and we start to gain a lot more clarity on the things that we want and truly desire in life. We begin to settle down in the job we’re doing, aim to climb the career ladder and start thinking about things like family, children and finding a partner for life. We begin to settle down!

So is there any benefit to all of this hardship. You bet ya! This time of emerging adulthood that we’ve left behind us has not only made us more competent, emotionally stable clear on our future direction, but the majority of us will have found the answer to the most frustrating questions that we may have asked ourselves five years earlier… questions like ‘What am I good at?’ or ‘What do I really want from life?’ or ‘Who am I?’. So, based on this, the key to figuring out who you are, and where you fit in the grand scheme is, as always, patience! I know, you’re impatient as f***! But allow me to tell you that the answers will become clear if we just allow ourselves enough time to establish our identity!

Take-home message: Hopefully this article has provided an explanation to some of your current thoughts and feelings. I know that this period of life can be quite frustrating sometimes, simply because we don’t know what purpose our life has. And that’s okay. The answers are not going to be clear straight away! But now you know the importance of deploying patience in your pursuit to discover your purpose in life.:-)

Let us know your thoughts on the theory of emerging adulthood? Do your perceptions of life fit with this theory? What are your experiences to date in relation to these ideas?:-)

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