Ask Jessica: I’m Going Through a Bit of a Quarter-Life Crisis Right Now – How Can I Be Excited for the Future?

In this month’s column, Jessica tackles the quarter-life crisis and discusses anxiety for the future.

Ask Jessica is a monthly column in which our resident writer Jessica answers your questions about love, life, and pretty much everything else.  With no subject too embarrassing or taboo, Jessica will tackle the trickiest and strangest of life’s dilemmas with plenty of honesty and life experience. Life is a bumpy and funny thing – sometimes you just need to ask someone for help every now and again!

Dear Jessica,

I’m going through a bit of a quarter life crisis right now. I have a good job and a nice boyfriend and good friends. I enjoy my life and have a lot going on but for the past few months I’ve been feeling a bit low and can’t stop thinking about the future. If I think about it too much I get depressed. I can’t help but think that my life is just going to be working 9-5 for the next few decades in order to pay for a mortgage that I probably won’t be able to get and kids I can’t afford to have in the first place. I know I’m still young and anything can happen, but it all seems really bleak. How can I get myself out of my head and be excited for the future?

Ugh, tell me about it. 

Let’s be honest: our generation (and everyone else pretty much) is facing a real wave of self-reflection and existential problems right now. Of course, the pandemic is mostly to blame – essentially, we’ve all lost over a year of our lives. A year that probably would have been quite critical for self-development and exploration. 

That said, our generation was battling some cliché but unavoidable issues even before the pandemic.

We worry about the same things each day: Will we ever be able to buy a house? How could we ever afford a wedding or children? How can we feel secure in a world where the odds seem stacked against us? 

So, yeah. Of course the future looks unappealing.

Huda Beauty

First of all, know that you’re not alone. I’m going through this quarter-life crisis mess myself… and so are probably most other people you know, even though they may not look like it. 

(Our generation also has an awful habit of pretending everything is fine in order to look like we are successful and happy at all times because we also happen to be addicted to comparison… but that’s a topic for another day).

About two years ago, I was out for dinner with my friend Anna. We were both at the start of new jobs in a new city. Anna off-handedly mentioned a conversation with her Dad in which she said to him something along the lines of: “It’s annoying having to think of what to bring to work for lunch every day.” To which he replied, “Well, that’s what you’ll be doing for the next forty years or so.”

I think about this comment probably…once a month. Is this all life is? Just planning what you’re having for lunch day-in and day-out until something interesting happens? 

Get me a bucket, because I’m going to be sick. 

And don’t even get me started on the concept of kids. I nearly gave myself a headache the other day because I was stressing about how I could afford full-time childcare whilst both me and my husband worked steady jobs because we couldn’t afford our mortgage on just one salary. 

I don’t even have a kid. Or a mortgage. …Or a husband.

The truth is, it’s really hard to get excited for a future that also gives us so much anxiety. 

So, how do we solve this? Well, we don’t.

We can’t control everything. In fact, we can hardly control anything. Life happens to us. So sitting around and getting stressed about the troubles of the future does nothing for our current selves.

I wonder if you’re feeling this way because you’re disillusioned with your current situation. 

You talk about your good circumstances – a nice job, boyfriend, and friends…but are you satisfied? Or just content? Do these things excite you and bring you joy or are they just things you’ve ticked off the to-do list of your life?

Maybe you need to mix things up a bit in your life right now. 

I’m not suggesting you should sell all your possessions and start raising alpacas or anything like that (but man, what a life). However, maybe trying a new hobby or challenge could offer some new perspective. Maybe think about the benefits of changing up your job or career path and ask whether this could be inspiring. If possible, a move or change in environment could shake you out of your rut.

And if you are truly 100% satisfied with everything that is going on in your life right now, then good for you! Embrace it!

I think we probably become restless because we’re not meant to stay still. I don’t think we’re supposed to do the same thing day after day for our entire lives. So the idea of this can be frustrating and actually quite frightening.

But getting upset about something you have no control over doesn’t benefit you at all.

You may as well try and focus on bringing excitement to your life right now, because honestly, there’s nothing you can do about the future! Sorry! 

Your life will be different in so many ways from what you imagine. It’ll be both more boring and more exciting than we could ever picture. Finding something new and exciting to focus on now will help distract you from getting too caught up thinking about the future.

And if you really can’t stop thinking about the future, then try and enjoy the idea of it more than dread. Try and imagine the places you’ll travel to, the friends you haven’t even met yet, and all the cool experiences that are ahead of you. Imagination is a really decent avoidance tactic.

Also? If you’re anything like me then you need to stop torturing yourself by doing things that remind you constantly about the future.

Bad idea: Spending all your free time on Zoopla or Rightmove browsing million-pound houses.

Decent alternative: Creating mood boards of what your dream house might look like. All the fun without having to stare at horrible prices.

Bad idea: Worrying about how you’re going to pay for your future child’s university bills.

Decent alternative: Go and babysit a child. That’ll slow your roll on the whole idea of kids.

Bad idea: Going on different online mortgage calculators and getting obsessed with the numbers.

Decent alternative: Go and watch the complete series of ER and get obsessed with a 1990’s George Clooney.

These might sound like stupid small solutions for what seems like a massive problem, but these are the bad habits that keep us stuck in this rut.

A quarter-life crisis is a slow and bumpy thing that we need to ride out. 

Think about the things you could do now to make your current situation more stimulating. Be thankful for what you already have. The future is too far ahead, and honestly, I think the expression “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” has never been more relevant.

Don’t worry about getting excited for the future. Just try and start getting excited for tomorrow instead. 

Missed out on the last Ask Jessica? Catch up here!

Tags: advice, Ask Jessica, life

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Jessica Cullen
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I'm an avid lover of film and television. I'm also a true crime obsessive and I swear by the three F's: flea markets, frozen margaritas, and Fleetwood Mac. When I'm not writing, I'm posting pages of my embarrassing childhood diaries on my newsletter The Jessica Diaries.
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