It’s that slump somewhere in between being fresh, shiny, and eighteen and your early thirties. They’ve started calling it a “quarter-life crisis” because so many are experiencing it. It comes with financial struggle, hatred for the job you find yourself stuck doing with no way out, and constant feelings of hopelessness in the future. You feel the crushing weight of anxiety, college debt, and generally being seen as unsuccessful. It’s the perfect storm of question, doubt, and depression… and it sucks hard.
Here’s the thing, though: you can’t see the forest for the trees. Though you still feel like you’re spinning your tires, there are some small glimmers of hope that you are crushing it more than you think, that you are actually climbing out. There are some simple signs that you are actually conquering your quarter-life crisis.
1. Your bank account isn’t going into single digits or the red constantly in between paydays.
You may or may not have conquered planning and sticking to a budget, but that’s okay. What matters is that you are finally finding ways to keep your account green (most of the time). Sometimes that means saying, “No,” to those cute shoes that were still full price or cancelling that cable package that you never use. It also means, though, that you can sometimes splurge on a meal at your favorite upscale restaurant or afford to drop the money into car repair. It’s a strange feeling to not be constantly strapped for cash, but a good strange.
2. There’s still the feeling of anxiety every time your mom calls to “chat,” but it no longer consumes you.
You used to have to give yourself a mental pep talk that lasted so long you’d have to reject her call the first time. You’d also claim you were “so busy,” even though you’d really just be watching Netflix in your pajamas and didn’t want her to know. You’re finally learning how to keep the conversation positive, respond to her attempts at throwing on the guilt, and just flat out tell her to shove it when needed. You are understanding that she means well but just doesn’t understand your generation. You’re still accepting the free food, though, because why not?
3. You’ve lost some friends, but somehow, it feels good.
You tried to hang on to those friends that were “fun,” but eventually it was clear that your lives were going in two separate directions. The anxiety of trying to get your sh*t together and grow up cramped their style, and, honestly, they were holding you back. There are times when you are at home on Friday nights where you miss the bar scene, but then you remember the horrible hangovers and the moment is gone.
4. You’re letting go of those feelings that you have to be perfect and embracing that sometimes life takes a winding path to get you where you’re heading.
Remember when you were graduating high school or starting college and you had this list of goals to accomplish by certain ages? Yeah, that doesn’t happen, and you are finally seeing that. It doesn’t make you a failure that you had to put off grad school or you are nearing 30 and aren’t where you thought you’d be; it simply means you are living and trying to find your path. It’s okay to change careers, it’s okay to not be using the degree you originally obtained, it’s okay to be in the limbo of a job you never thought you’d have. You are learning to embrace where you are, and it’s a beautiful thing.
5. You are starting to have less moments of questioning what you are doing with your life and more moments of confidence that what you are doing with your life is making you happy.
This is the most important one: you finally feel like you are going in the direction you want, regardless if it was the route you originally planned. You are finding joy in the day to day. You’re making strides towards success, and though it looks different than what you thought at 18, it feels amazing. You aren’t waking up every morning with that pit in your stomach and those feelings of hopelessness anymore. There are still moments where you feel uncertain, but the real victory is pushing through, having direction, feeling that your life is worth living.
Hold on to those tiny sparkles of success, those slightly uncomfortable but concrete signs that you are winning at life, if even just one small step at a time. They may not seem like much, and they may feel incredibly awkward as you realize you are in the midst of them, but that’s okay. Remember, it’s one small step for man, one giant leap for… any Millennial. You got this.