Double Trouble: Impact of Quarter-Life Crisis and the Pandemic on the Youth
One is normal, and the other is the new normal. But both have been troubling our youth in the current times.
India is projected to have the largest youth population (15-24 years), accounting for 19% of India's population according to the census of India in 2011. By 2020, it is expected that around 34.33% of India’s population will comprise young people (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, GOI, 2017). Hence, it’s high time we highlight and discuss the concerns of our youth. One concern for young people during the pandemic was the prominent feeling of going through a “quarter-life crisis”. A quarter-life crisis is a period of uncertainty that young people face about their career, academics,
relationships, finances, and personal identity. It is primarily Source: (Tenor & Zi,2019)
known to affect the youth as they transition from adolescence
to adulthood. The quarter-life crisis was a concept given by Robbins and Wilner in 2001 to talk about the crisis young adults between ages 18-25 years face. But the quarter-life crisis has now extended up to the age of 30 due to the shifting generations. At this stage, young people might meet with an identity crisis while they begin building a future.
As a young person, I have experienced that the transition to adulthood can be challenging. This is the age where most of us finish schooling or college and wonder about our career and job prospects. Our dreams and aspirations may change when we step into the world for the first time on our own.
Source: (Tenor, 2017)
This sudden change can make us feel shocked, frustrated, and disappointed. We might face overwhelming feelings and thoughts, anxiety, mood swings, depression, reduced well-being, and worry about the future. We might face difficulties in our relationships and even face an existential crisis. We might compare ourselves to our peers and feel dejected, especially due to social media. We might also feel numb and directionless sometimes. We might lack motivation and be divided on whether we should be more responsible or have more fun (Elevate Counselling+ Wellness, 2021).
The COVID-19 pandemic and its two waves, along with the threat of a 3rd wave, is causing further uncertainty for our youth and worsening the experience of the quarter-life crisis. As many as 41 lakh youths in India have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the future remains a question mark. Many have exhibited lower levels of well-being and are prone to mental health and physical health problems while trying to cope with the pandemic. The pandemic has forced schools and colleges to shift online and closed down public spaces. This is the age where we would have wanted to explore life and go on adventures, but the pandemic has shackled us to our homes. Revenge travel is a phenomenon that occurred during the pandemic to denote the rise in people visiting tourist places when restrictions and lockdown were lifted. This has caused a rise in cases. The pandemic also saw the rise in physical and mental health concerns. There has also been an increase in social media use, increase in social isolation, and loneliness. Some of us might have had a financial crisis causing us to move back in with our families and cause conflicts with them.
Source: (Tenor, 2016)
However, we must remember that our peers and colleagues are also going through this. Though every individual’s experience of a quarter-life crisis is different, everyone experiences it in some way or the other. At the same time, it is important to remember that it’s normal and valid to have those feelings and experiences. Let us try to assure and love ourselves more often than not. Here are some ways that might help us get through this period of uncertainty -
Therapy: As young adults, we must destigmatize therapy and seek help for our mental health concerns. Going for individual or group therapy can help us understand ourselves as we navigate challenging times. It allows us to explore ourselves and learn to become aware of our behavior. Many organizations offer therapy face-to-face and online on a free and sliding scale basis for those facing financial setbacks. However, one can find what works for them by exploring options on a trial and error basis.
Here is a list of helplines in India.
Movement: We like to move it, move it! Whether it’s grooving to songs or engaging in yoga, make sure your body is on the move. If you have a busy schedule and cannot fit in exercise, perhaps you can avoid sitting in front of the computer for hours- try standing and working for some time. For every hour you spend sitting, Source: (GIPHY, n.d.)
make sure you stand or move for three minutes.
Moving is helpful for both your physical and mental health.
Sleep: We know we have read it everywhere, but we just want to finish that one episode, and suddenly it’s 5 am and no one gets that we are busy. When you have a busy day and finally finish work you might discover it's quite late at night and it’s time to sleep. We might feel that there is not enough time for our personal life and because of this we usually take some hours from our sleep for ourselves. We might usually dedicate this time to scrolling social media or watching something online. This is known as revenge bedtime procrastination, which happens when one is too stressed and overworked and craves some me-time. The primary reason for this is because we didn’t get much free time during the day and this phenomenon increased during the pandemic due to work-from-home and online classes. (White, 2021). Therefore, we could try taking small breaks during the day for self-care by prioritizing our tasks for the day so that we do not have to compromise on leisure, sleep, or work.
Time management: As we begin each day, we could prepare a to-do list or the tasks that we wish to complete that day. This should include time for leisure, sleep, work and buffer time for unexpected tasks. By breaking larger tasks into smaller chunks and allotting them into categories, it would help us avoid overworking on the due date. By scheduling our leisure activities and sleep in our to-do list, there would be more commitment and firm time boundaries for each task so that your work doesn’t spill over into your leisure and rest time.
You can access our resources to support yourself or your loved ones.
Remember, you are not going through this alone!
Robbins, A., & Wilner, A. (2001). Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in
Your Twenties [E-book]. Penguin. https://www.google.co.in/books/edition/Quarterlife_C: (Tenor & Zi, 2019)hl=en&gbpv=1
The Economic Times. (2020, August 18). 41 lakh youth lose jobs in India due to COVID-19 pandemic: ILO-ADB Report. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/41-lakh-youth-lose-jobs-in-india-due-to-covid-19-pandemic-ilo-adb-report/articleshow/77613218.cms
Elevate Counseling +Wellness. (2021, May). Are You Experiencing Quarter-Life
Crisis Symptoms? Here’s How to Deal. https://www.elevatecounseling.com/blog-post/are-you-experiencing-quarter-life-crisis-symptoms-heres-how-to-deal
Frances & Blogspot. (n.d.). Gif Love [GIF]. How I Met Your Mother.
GIPHY. (n.d.). I like to move it [GIF].
Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, GOI. (2017, March). Youth in India.
Central Statistics Office Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Government of India (Social Statistics Division). http://mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/Youth_in_India-2017.pdf
Meme Generator- Newfa. (n.d.). Holt-’Pain, that’s it’ [Meme].
Tenor. (2015, December 16). Do You Have A Plan? [GIF].
Tenor. (2017, March 26). Himym Ted [GIF].
Tenor, & Zi. (2019, April 3). Holt Pain [GIF].
White, T. (2021, March 25). Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: The Reason You
Were Up Until 2 a.m. Last Night. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep/revenge-bedtime-procrastination#fixing-it