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Surviving the Quarter-Life Crisis

Pete Springer/OPB

Upwardly mobile, college-educated young professionals should be nothing but happy — right? Well, they’re not. Thousands of them across the country are going through what many are calling the “quarter-life crisis.”

Half a century ago, most young people finished high school or college, took a job, and worked there until they retired. They got married soon after school, and started building a family. Not so with today’s Generation Y. They’re dissatisfied with their careers, as their entry-level jobs with little security aren’t what their parents made them think they deserved. And their personal lives are in flux, as more and more of them wait to get married and have kids, choosing instead to move around the country, or even the world. Of course, you could argue that these are the lucky ones: at least they have jobs in a dismal economy.

But they’re finding that this new way of life leads to feelings of instability, isolation, frustration, and reassessment. Insulated high school or college life ends abruptly, with no rules on how to handle bills, or a job search, or lessons on how to make friends off-campus.

There’s no clear path or rulebook on how to be a twentysomething these days, and for many, figuring out how to forge a path through that young no-man’s-land has become a full-fledged crisis.

Are you in the midst of a quarter-life crisis? How’d it happen to you? And what are you doing to get out?


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