Millennials are finding that life after college isn’t what they thought it would be, and many are facing a quarter-life crisis.
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Millennials are being criticized for everything all the time, from not buying homes to buying too much avocado toast. Now, you can add a new problem to the list: the quarter-life crisis. Many find that life after college isn’t what they thought it would be. Problems arise when millennials can’t land that dream job, or when they find that success is a lot harder to come by.

Post-college life

Expectations after finally obtaining a degree are high, and graduates hope to get started with a career. Most millennials, however, hit a brick wall at full speed. Some therapists are calling this period in life “post-graduation depression,” though it is not an official designation by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health professionals are saying its effects include “a period of severe sadness, loss of motivation and feelings of helplessness or isolation due to constant change and an overabundance of choices,” according to CNBC.

Not being able to find a job is only a part of the equation. Crippling student-loan debt is holding back many millennials. With only six months after graduation to find a way to start paying, many start to take jobs that pay the bills instead of starting careers. Debt stops millennials from achieving more of life’s milestones such as marriage, home ownership and having children.

Seeing the success of others on social media also hits millennials hard. More than four out of five adults in the U.S. report that they constantly check their emails, texts and social media accounts, which leads to a ton of envy and anxiety. Seeing others show off a new job when you’re trying to find your first one can’t feel too great. The APA reports that millennials are already the most stressed-out generation, and, connecting the dots, it isn’t hard to see why.

Quarter-life crisis

Two different studies confirm that the late 20s are a challenging period of people’s lives. Suffering through a quarter-life crisis is the result of all the combined stress of not feeling accomplished and being burdened by this lack of success. A quarter-life crisis is a process that can last for years and even repeat itself.

Millennials are still being treated as kids at this age, despite paying bills or living alone. They also receive as much respect as goes with being considered a child. This makes it difficult to move into adulthood; millennials aren’t treated as adults but are expected to be adults. These tumultuous feelings can cause a person to develop impostor syndrome.

A study by Dr. Oliver Robinson outlines the five main phases of the quarter-life crisis. It starts with feeling trapped by life choices, such as a job. This is followed by a sense of wanting to make the leap to the next step in life. Then, after finally making the leap by quitting the job or the situation in which they feel trapped, the person enters into a time-out period to rediscover themselves. After the period of rediscovery, rebuilding begins slowly before the person is finally able to make choices that align with their aspirations.

Robinson’s study shows that this type of behavior is more likely to happen in people who try. Having set goals, an attitude toward success and strong ideals make it more likely that they will fall into this cycle. Building up with such high goals leads to disappointment when they’re not able to reach these goals.

Takeaway: Millennials are having a tough time

From having a hard time finding jobs, to being called lazy, to suffering from unique psychological conditions, millennials are having a tough time. The recession is still affecting many of the people looking for jobs, even though the country is doing much better economically. Millennials are denied any respect because of their age and perceived lack of knowledge in their areas of expertise. This melange of problems is causing a unique crisis within the group, which has forced millennials to re-evaluate their lives to cope with the situation.

But a new study shows that for all the criticism and hardships that millennials have faced, they’re more likely than other generations to be upbeat and hopeful. They’re also more likely to blur lines between work and life, meaning that they would choose to catch up on work on their personal time. The study also found that millennials are more likely to make the world a better place.

Older millennials are also finding that they’re different from their recently graduated brethren. Many have careers that follow a traditional path, with homes and families. They’re also moving into the same middle-management jobs as previous generations.

While things may be bleak at the moment, millennials come out with a different outlook after a quarter-life crisis. Eighty percent of people who went through it say the experience turned out to be positive.

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Header image: Adobe Stock

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Posted 09.20.2017 - 12:00 pm EDT