Who am I?

by Sanjana Karnik 
January 3, 2021
Who am I?

Midlife Crisis is a widely recognized concept that occurs in middle aged individuals characterized by periods of uncertainty and doubt. It is basically a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight an individual’s growing age, possible lack of accomplishments, inevitable mortality, lost youthfulness, and other existential problems. However, the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ is a relatively lesser known identity crisis that leaves young adults anxious, depressed, confused and full of doubt. It is most commonly experienced from the early 20s to mid 30s when an individual is entering the ‘real world’. This identity crisis often hits when an individual has to adapt and carry out the duties and responsibilities expected from a fully developed individual, commonly referred to as ‘adulting’.

Usually, individuals who experience a Quarter Life Crisis come from a highly sheltered and cushioned life under the care and support of primary and secondary caregivers. They are also individuals who have emerged from the protected structure and security of school and college. Thus, the sudden pressure of navigating relationships, chasing and achieving success, finding a suitable and lucrative career, and making long term personal as well as professional decisions make individuals feel overwhelmed and overburdened. Although these are the most common reasons that can severely affect an individual, there are also other, more specific reasons such as living away from family, that can cause a distressed state. These individuals are often surrounded by clouds of confusion, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions that prevent them from living their lives to the fullest potential.


Society has conditioned us to believe that the 20s are the best years of our lives because of the limitless freedom and opportunities we are supposed to receive. Therefore individuals who find themselves stuck in a bad situation feel that they have no reason to be struggling because these years are supposed to be relatively fun and easy. This struggle is in fact a very real and prevalent phenomenon that can disrupt their day-to-day functioning. Unfortunately, the individual is not aware that this problem is utterly common and normal and believes they are alone, thus contributing significantly to their existing myriad of problems. This leads to the individual pondering over a newly cropped series of questions centered around their direction and motive in life.

Young adults often feel like they’re living on ‘autopilot’ or leading a ‘trapped’ or ‘suffocated’ personal and professional life. These individuals wrongly believe that focusing and making changes in their surroundings along with making significant differences would decrease their distress. However, a lot of their issues contributing to this crisis can be tackled by changing the way they perceive a situation and by making small changes towards their goals.

In today’s time, social media is a huge contributing factor to the Quarter Life Crisis because young adults quickly develop the habit of comparing their lifestyles and goals with that of others. Social media’s influence inhibits their mind to such an extent that they often forget that every person is different, with unique goals, backgrounds, expectations, and ambitions. It is one thing to appreciate and motivate oneself by looking at the lifestyles and achievements of friends and family and another to get disheartened by believing that one is lagging behind or is a failure.

Apart from this, the extremely popular and unattainable ‘toxic positivity’ or ‘good vibes ONLY’ mantra promoted on social media plants a false idea in the minds of the young generation. It leads them to believe that they’re always supposed to be happy, never supposed to fail, and constantly feel good about everything and everyone which is humanly impossible and quite the opposite of how it really is and should be. People fail to understand that not everyone can be a billionaire at the age of 21 like Kylie Jenner, not everyone can find the love of their lives and marry at the age of 25 and not everyone can come up with something brilliant like OYO like Ritesh Agrawal did at the age of 19. Therefore social media directly or indirectly plays a huge role in decreasing the life satisfaction of young individuals.

  • It is important to question the ‘should(s)’ and deadlines
  • Experiment and explore
  • Learn to enjoy the process
  • Make time for self-reflection and self-care
  • Remind self that social media does not show the whole picture
  • Work on self-efficacy
  • Remind self that everyone has their own pace.
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Implement small changes
  • Reduce social media usage
  • Identify activities that brings one joy

Sanjana Karnik and Sanjana Kulkarni (co-author),
Clinical and Research Intern, PsychLine.in


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Robinson, O. C., & Wright, G. R. (2013). The prevalence, types and perceived outcomes of crisis episodes in early adulthood and midlife: A structured retrospective-autobiographical study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37(5), 407-416.