Quarter-Life Crises are Good

November 4, 2016  |   Found in Editorial


If you’re in your upper years of university and have yet to suffer experience a quarter life crisis surrounding your future, don’t be fooled into thinking you’re in the clear. I don’t just mean the freak-outs you have in the bathroom stall ten minutes before your History presentation or the sinking feeling you get when you see your grade for your first ever Statistics assignment. No, I mean a truly life altering identity crisis, as in, who you thought you were isn’t you who you are and who you want to be, and for those of you who’ve gone through them, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In some ways, they’re worse than the relatives you dread seeing but know you’ll have to spend time with once an important holiday rolls around, like a funeral.

But, here’s the silver lining: quarter-life crises are lightbulb moments! Yeah, it might be a Kim-Kardashian-ugly-cry kinda day or week, but at least it’s all coming from an honest place—you know you’re unsatisfied or confused or tired—and these are important indicators that something’s got to change!

The tears and the panic, the stress in answering one of the biggest WHAT IF’s in your life, whether it’s about your career, or your major, or your life after university all just mean you care enough about your present to question yourself about the future.

These questions, my friends, are among the very best we can ask ourselves during our time in university because it (re)shapes who we are. My advice is to QUESTION EVERYTHING. What can I do with an English degree? Are A&W’s burgers really made with 100% real beef? Do I want to go to law school? Should I do a Masters?

Granted some questions can’t be answered in one sitting, but perhaps the most important question to ask yourself following the obvious one (what makes you happy?) is why did you want to pursue _______ in the first place? I ask this question in place of the other because the obvious question is too often overlooked, and it’s good to remind yourself of your motivations.

My own personal theory is if we’d question ourselves on a more consistent basis, then we might just spare ourselves quarter life crises or at least, the frequency that we experience them. Think about it. Crises are pent up emotions like denial and fear shoved underneath the dinner table to our already overweight dog, where we think our moms won’t notice. But eventually, she’ll notice.

I certainly didn’t want to face the music when I started getting small hints that maybe I don’t want to be a creative and professional writer as my career. So fast forward four years and insert general quarter-life crisis, and I was well on my way to becoming a person with different aspirations than when I started, which is perfectly okay and utterly normal. And what a relief! It’s exhausting to fit into the mold you set for yourself when it’s no longer relevant.

If there’s one thing you can learn from this piece, it should be this:

make a habit of questioning your motives and goals from time to time and recognize it’s good to admit when your goals change.

Just because I wanted to be a soccer player when I was six doesn’t mean I still have to go through with it today, unfit and outrageous lover of pizza as I am. And just because I dedicated 4 years (and now 5 years) of my life to an English degree to refine my craft doesn’t mean I have to be a writer first and foremost.

There shouldn’t be a deadline on your personal growth and anyone who’s pressuring you to have it together doesn’t understand you or natural life processes. So just see quarter life crises for what they’re worth because they might well be a blessing in disguise. Now go on, and accept those freak-outs big or small, and you’re well on your way to becoming a blooming university student!


Krystal Leung is a 5th year English student and the Social Media Coordinator with the SU. She has a soft spot for people, places and things out of the ordinary, and finds her fit in fashion event planning. Throw in a couple golden retrievers and huskies, and she’s a perpetual happy camper.

Illustration: Carla Castagno, www.bigstockphoto.com