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How to Banish the Quarter-Life Crisis

Just because you feel like you should do something doesn’t mean you have to.

I received a newsletter recently that spoke to me on a deep, existential level. The subject line? “I just want to give up and take a nap.” Naps aside (because we all probably need one), the feeling of wanting to give up is a strong one – and one that resonates with me.  

The good news here is that I’m not alone. You see, this email from Girlboss spoke to a topic that’s gaining some unfortunate popularity: the quarter-life crisis.

Are we even allowed to feel crises when we’re so young? Often, the resounding advice from the world at large says “NO” – that millennials have it easy, we live in the land of opportunities, that we have so many resources and options within our grasp that we “should” have it made.

And yet, there’s that word. “Should.” We’ve talked about it a few times in this blog. The quarter-life crisis seems to come from all this pressure we feel stemming from what we hear we should do. Not whether we could or even want to; it feels so often like not only do we need to have it all figured out, but we also have to make it meaningful too.

But here’s the good news: just because you feel like you should doesn’t mean you have to. It’s absolutely OK to not have it figured out in your twenties, your thirties, or beyond – we’re allowed to make it up as we go along.

Here’s how I support myself when I’m feeling the pressure of the quarter life crisis:

  1. Do what you need to do. Take a breath and focus on the present – what’s actually on your to-do list? Forget the things you feel like you “should” do for a minute and instead look at the short term items you know you have to tackle today. Sure, this can easily backslide into procrastinating, but perfectly fine to take a break from long term stress to deal with short term tasks. Build momentum by crossing tasks off your list one step at a time.
  2. Ask for help. Talk to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling – getting some outside perspective is a good way to remind yourself that sometimes we’re the ones putting the pressure on ourselves. If your anxiety is particularly strong, talking to a therapist can be a huge relief too.  
  3. Remember it’s temporary. The anxiety from existential problems like this can certainly feel like it’s going to swallow you whole, but thankfully anxiety is not a permanent feeling. Try to step back from it and remember, it’s called a quarter life crisis because you’re only in the first quarter of your life. As you give yourself the emotional space to make up your path as you go along, the anxiety will pass and you will figure out the next step you need to take. Another helpful tip? Think back to the last time you felt overwhelmed – what was the outcome? More importantly – did that moment end? Trace your feelings backward and you’ll see – the overwhelm is fleeting, and the outcome rarely matches how anxious we feel about it.
  4. Let go of things that aren’t serving you. Is the anxiety coming from a specific source – a task you don’t feel up to, a relationship that’s turning toxic, maybe a role that doesn’t fit you? Sometimes the things we think we want aren’t what we really need. And what’s more, sometimes we tell ourselves we can do it ALL – and realistically we don’t have the bandwidth to do everything. Let go of the “shoulds,” focus on what you can AND want to do.
  5. Figure out your own personal definition for success. You may hear the world telling you that success is a certain set of goals – making money, getting married, having kids, climbing the corporate ladder. But are those goals right for you? Maybe success looks like the space to take that nap on your couch when you need it; or it looks like nailing your next performance evaluation. Your goals can be as short or long term as you need – just keep that keyword “need” in mind.

Getting through the quarter life crisis isn’t really as simple as aging out of your quarter-life, unfortunately, but luckily the feeling doesn’t have to stick with you day in and day out. Remind yourself it’s 100% OK not to have it all figured out – I’ve yet to meet the person who does – and that it’s OK to make it up as you go along. I know I certainly am!

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”


Winston Churchill

The World of Visual Arts

How can I be an artist in today’s digital world?

Meet Leah. Leah is a student at Chapman University studying Animation and Visual Effects. She is distinguished by her vivid energy, her love for video games, and her unique approach to the world. Today we talk about her perspective as an artist and how she’s been adapting to the digital arts world. Hope you enjoy!

“It’s not only about talking, it’s also about listening.”

Meet Colleen and learn about her unique experience after high school and how she realized Communication was the field of study that brought out the best in her.

Colleen Penaluna is a student at Chapman University studying Communications with a minor in Political Science. Her discerning mindset for social justice distinguishes her from many of her peers – that and her love for corgis.

Thank you for being here today. How about our readers get to know you a little better. How would you describe yourself in three words?

Oh lord. I’d say I’m loyal, open-minded, and diligent (oh and sleepy too).

What is something that you do every month that you think makes you feel the happiest?

Continue reading

Stuck in a situation that’s no longer a fit? Your beliefs might be the culprit.

Near the end of the previous school year, I got in touch with one of my daughter’s teachers about how she was doing in class. Despite some amazing teachers and creative strategies to support her, she was having increasing difficulty with math and it was clearly taking a toll on her confidence. My daughter was getting to the point where she’d avoid doing her homework, already convinced she wouldn’t be able to do it without even trying.

After a few back and forths, her teacher suggested taking her to the doctor to get her evaluated. “For what?” I asked. I knew exactly what – my background in healthcare, being a daughter of a mom who worked with kids with learning difficulties and the experiences of my friends precluded me from feigning ignorance. I knew that my daughter likely was dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder. So my question to the teacher was entirely meant to challenge, to push back, and to make what she was suggesting not so. Continue reading

Why You Should Try New Things

Last weekend my friend called me and asked if I could help her out on a film set she was working on. The person in charge of the production design had canceled last minute so she needed someone to replace them. At first I thought about rejecting the offer and telling her I was busy. I didn’t really know a lot about set design, let alone a film, so I didn’t really think I could be much of  an asset.

But after giving it a second thought, I decided to give it a go. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Participating in the set actually ended up being really fun. I got to help out with the arrangement of props and learned about complex processes behind film production. It even reminded me how much I enjoyed interior design.

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How I’m “Journeous” – Dylan Gallagher, Orange Sky Adventures

A picture is worth 1,000 words. You know it, you’ve heard it, and most influentially – you’ve seen it. We saw it too when we talked to Dylan Gallagher, founder of Orange Sky Adventures.
What did we see? The spirit of ‘being Journeous’ in action.

We met Dylan at a recent event where he told us that what Journeous is all about really resonated with him. He shared a bit about his own experience ‘being Journeous’ – and we wanted to hear a bit more. So we sat down with Dylan to hear, eight years after graduating from college, how he’s been Journeous, what he’s learned along the way, and his advice for his younger self and others who are there now. Take a listen.

The Power Of Self-Awareness

It was only a few years ago when I first heard about the concept of self-awareness. This notion of “self” had always been something unspoken, for I’d always been told it was psychologists who were in charge of analysing people and their patterns of behaviors. As a response to this abstraction, I struggled to understand what this idea truly entailed. I had always been me, so how could I not know who I am?

Time passed and I was introduced to the art of yoga and meditation. In my practices, this word kept showing up and I became more curious to understand what it was really about. Reading from the different perspectives of psychologists, philosophers and spiritual teachers, I realized just how naive I had been.

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LinkedIn For Career Launchers with Angela Dunz

These stats should come as no surprise: more than 20,000 US organizations use LinkedIn to recruit, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates, and there are 15 million active jobs listed on the social networking site. LinkedIn is a must when you’re actively looking for a job, when you might be looking for a job, and even when you’re not looking for a job but open to hearing what’s out there.

Career launchers have asked us a myriad of questions about LinkedIn, such as:

  • How can I get seen – or better yet stand out – compared to people with way more experience?
  • How do I write my profile if I don’t know what job I’m looking for?
  • There’s a lot of content to fill in – what parts matter most?
  • What if I don’t have any paid work experience?
  • Isn’t LinkedIn just an online version of my resume?
  • I’m still in school – what do I say my title is?

We talked to Angela Dunz, director of training at Vengreso, The Digital Sales Transformation Company, who’s been helping people make the most of their LinkedIn profile for more than six years, and she gave us the scoop on what career launchers need to know to make the most out of their LinkedIn profile.

Setting Your Career Up for Financial Health – Interview with Dan Koblin

So you’ve got the job — now what are the first steps you should take to get your finances on the right track?

When you’re just getting started in your career – maybe you’re finishing up college, or you’re beginning your first “grown up” job – navigating a path can be challenging. Making decisions about your career is one thing, but when you’re first starting out there’s health and car insurance to think about, apartment rentals, student loans, and so many other pieces to figure out that you may not have learned about in college or high school. Finances are a huge part of this, so we sat down with Dan Koblin, founder and partner of Continuum Consulting Group, for advice on financial first steps for young adults.

Q: When you’re planning for life after school, there are tons of decisions to make. Adding on the need to figure out a financial plan seems overwhelming – where do we start? Continue reading

Entrepreneur or Entrepreneurial?

A few weeks ago, we were talking about the holiday work schedule and my daughter asked me if I was as lucky as dad to get the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. I smiled at the nuance of her question that she was oblivious to: As an entrepreneur, I now get to make that call rather than having someone else dictate it.

I’m surrounded by budding entrepreneurs – at least partly because I live on the outer edges of Silicon Valley. “Follow your passion,” we hear. “There’s no feeling like being your own boss.” Couple that with the cool factor of Shark Tank and never ending pitch competitions, why would you want to go work for the big corporate chieftain when you could be the decision maker, dress the way you want, and do something you truly care about? Continue reading

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