Obviously, the crisis most of us will be heading swifty toward, is the ‘mid-life’ one - the one at about 50-years-old, when we suddenly find ourselves inexplicably buying a pair of blades or getting a Peaky Blinders haircut or taking up capoeira or growing a ponytail or starting a motorbike podcast or becoming a shrunken head collector or getting a tattoo of a koi carp on your calf or becoming half human/half robot in an attempt to live forever.
But there are other crises we have to deal with, too. Like the alternative classic, turning 30, and the intense panic and feeling of inadequacy that comes with it - you are now a ticking time bomb, and there is nothing you can do about it, you will one day explode.
Turns out though, that a far more common (and relatively new) attack on your cosy life, is the quarter-life crisis, which according to research by LinkedIn (to celebrate the launch of their careers advice service), will hit you square in your jaw at exactly 26 years and nine months. WHAM, RIGHT IN THE KISSER. MEET MY FRIENDS RES, PONS, AND IBILITY.
According to the study, at least 72% of young professionals in the UK have experienced this, and it’s down to a few rather obvious reasons. The biggest triggers are getting onto the property ladder (57%) and finding a career you’re passionate about (57%), along with the old chestnut: finding a life-partner (46%). No mention of your dirty laundry basket finally becoming absolutely and completely overwhelming, but I’m sure it contributes.
Clinical psychologist Dr Alex Fowke defines the quarter-life crisis as: “A period of insecurity, doubt and disappointment surrounding your career, relationships and financial situation.
“This can stem from a period of life following the major changes of adolescence, when a person starts to doubt their own lives and begins to face the extent of the stresses associated with becoming an adult.”
Fowke reckons this phenomenon is down to this generation being the first to earn less than the previous one, and the increasing pressure that comes hand-in-hand with that sad fact. He continues:
“Nowadays, twentysomethings are under intense pressure to get themselves onto the housing market, navigate the increasingly complex professional landscape, struggle to maintain relationships and are commonly subjected to a distorted notion of life through social media.
“Literature suggests that key challenges faced by people aged from between 18 and 35 can include identity confusion, internal conflict (failing to reach the expectations set for themselves) and uncertainty.”
As such, the country has seen a stream of twentysomethings upping and quitting their current jobs, and even countries. The research found that 31% of the 2,000 people surveyed felt they’d wasted years in the wrong job, 34% had booked it, packed it and fucked off to a different place, 35% swapped out their career entirely and 22% made the bold move to pack in their job even though they didn’t have another one to go to.
26-year-old Rachel Farmer from Bristol told The Independent: “I did a job for a year after graduating, then felt unfulfilled so went back to uni.
“Now I’m trying out freelancing and it’s very stagnant at the moment. I definitely think the quarter-life crisis is a thing.”
Another said: “I was so excited after I graduated uni. I got a job but after a couple of years found myself thinking, ‘Is this it?’ It felt like things weren’t going anywhere.
“It was school, then college, then uni and each of them was so fast-paced and directed, then you graduate and it’s like, ‘What’s the next thing to be looking forward to?’ And there isn’t anything.”
I can fully understand all of this, because unless you were one of the members of One Direction, there will be some sort of worry in the run-up to hitting the big 3-0. Whether you decide to have the panic at 26 or on the actual day of your 30th, surrounded by friends and family, and have a wailing breakdown, strip naked and face-plant the cake, that’s up to you. Probs best to get it out the way early, I’d say. Wham your red head into that 26th birthday cake, embarrass your lineage, quit it all, you big quitter.
Anyway, happy birthday!