Quarter-Life Crises and The Myth of “Emerging Adulthood” – Part 2!

fs_quarter_life_sketch_copy-300x200Thank you all for coming back for Part 2 of my Quarter-Life series (click here for Part 1 if you haven’t checked it out yet)! Last time, I introduced the idea of expectations and instant gratification. The main message I left you with is to stay present oriented and goal oriented. What does that mean? It means to have goals and visions for yourself, but don’t get overwhelmed by the bigness. Instead, ask yourself, what is the next best step for myself? Well, the next topic I wanted to throw out there is what I call the threat of comparisons. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every other media outlet has now created this culture where we all compare ourselves to each other. This reminds me of two great quotes…

“Don’t compare your insides with somebody else’s outsides.”


“Don’t compare someone else’s highlight reel to your behind the scenes.”

With the age of social media, we’re left comparing ourselves to everyone out there, and sadly, we compare ourselves to ourselves. We compare ourselves to our past experiences and our idea of what future experiences will bring. We compare ourselves to who we think we wish we were, who we’re not, and who we once were. We sometimes go into a situation thinking that we should be having so much fun, but we’re not. We think it’s weird that the things we once found fun are no longer fun. We think that we should be going out every weekend because we’re in our 20s, as if that is some free ticket to having a good time and that we’ll never be able to have fun again. The truth is that we make our life in every moment of every day of every year. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 50, you get to decide the life you want to have. Your responsibilities and daily agenda might change and your idea of fun might change, but who put in our head that this is our time to do what we’ll never able to do? There’s no stopwatch on our adventures.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a relationship or a job, we often get caught up in the idea of what something is rather than living with the reality of it. This is especially true in relationships where we go into them for the image of what somebody is or who we want them to be or who they could be, but they are not that. They are who they are. As a newly married, close friend of mine once said is that you can’t just love someone in spite of their “bad stuff,” you have to love them because of it. This is not to suggest that people do not change, but you have to see people for who they are at their core. Are they someone who you can have a deep, meaningful relationship with? Is it someone that you can talk about those difficult topics? Or if you’re in a new relationship, do you see yourself opening up more and being more vulnerable to get to that space I talked about?

This same idea applies to work. Do you love the job because of the idea of it? You may love that it’s a Fortune 500 company or a great new start-up or that you get paid well or great benefits, but at the end of the day is there anything beyond the superficial that keeps you there? How often do you go from one thing to the next for the idea of something rather than the reality. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making half a million a year and are still unhappy going to work every day. During the 20s, especially, we often have do things that are not exactly what we want to do. As Dr. Meg Jay says in her book, many in their 20s are underemployed. She says “they work at jobs they are overqualified for.” This often makes people feel like they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, but let me share one of my other favorite quotes by Oprah Winfrey,

“Sometimes you do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do.”

You’re meant to work hard in your 20s. You’re not always going to have exactly what you want, but you have to prove yourself in a lot of ways to others. I don’t say that in a way to place a sense of unworthiness in you, but I say that with the intention of igniting some passion. If you want to get to the top of the mountain, you have to show those at the top that you can climb it.

As many great teachers have said before, let your passion drive your purpose. It’s difficult to try to find what your purpose is and why you’re here and what you should be doing. However, if you let your passion lead the way, your purpose will naturally unfold. If you do what you love to do, you’ll want to do more of it. By doing more of it, you’ll get better at it and you will be your own natural fuel that has seemingly endless reserves. By being better at it, people will want to be around you. That’s part of the reason why we love spending so much money on sporting events and concerts. It’s inspiring to see people who are excellent at what they do. If you’re great at something and it happens to be monetizable, people will pay for you. Through that, you can sometimes find your purpose. And you can use that gift in service of your career and your relationships. Let’s be clear though, your passion does not have to be your job. People find passions in volunteer work, in parenting, in hobbies.

To purchase a copy of Dr. Meg Jay’s book, click here.

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Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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Categories: Blogs by Rubin, Therapy

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5 replies


  1. Quarter-Life Crises and The Myth of “Emerging Adulthood” – Part 1! « Psych Connection
  2. How do you know when it’s time to make a change? « Psych Connection
  3. The Compound Effect: How Your Daily Choices Affect Your Life – Part 1! « Psych Connection
  4. 4 Life Lessons We Could All Learn from Elon Musk « Psych Connection
  5. The Compound Effect: How Your Daily Choices Affect Your Life – Part 2! « Psych Connection

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