I can’t believe I will turn 25, a quarter century in March. A big yet small number. Many people tell you, “Your 20s are for enjoyment. Enjoy life and travel!” But what is there to enjoy when I think I’m having a quarter-life crisis? 

What is a quarter-life crisis?

According to Wikipedia, a quarter-life crisis is anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life, most commonly experienced in a period ranging from a person’s early twenties to mid-thirties.

When I left high school at 17, I thought that at 25, I would have figured my life out, and the direction would be clear. Eight years later, none of the things above have happened. I just have sleepless nights and wish the night was still the morning so at least I can be distracted.

I passed my matric in 2015 with admission to a bachelor’s degree. I then entered the workforce to save up for registration money, and I did it successfully. I then applied to universities and got accepted. The school year went smoothly until August 3rd, 2017, when I lost my grandma, the breadwinner in the household, with her social grant from the government. When she passed on, I lost my emotional support and financial support all in one. I continued with the year, but in October, things got tough, and I would miss a week or go to school once a week; even when I did go, I couldn’t attend classes and I had to copy notes from other people to make up for the missed time. It became very challenging, and I had to leave school and find employment.

Fast forward to 2023, turning 25, I am in a full-time job, but I still feel like all I had imagined for myself is yet to materialise. At 25 I imagined myself in full-time employment, with a degree, driving, and living out of the hood. Should I be doing more? Am I making excuses because there are people who have been in my position and made it work? I have peers who are employed and out of the hood. Have I peaked? Is this the best my life will ever be? These are all the questions that keep me up at night and give me anxiety during the day. Am I wanting too much too soon? I don’t know. 

All these things make me anxious about my life’s direction and quality. Will I ever enjoy a soft life? Will I be one of the people who had so much potential and never fulfilled it?

I am not alone in this. Reece Friedricks, a 23-year-old friend of mine also experiences this. “Even though my life is somewhat of a blessed experience – I’m qualified, employed, healthy and in a relationship. So, statistically, I’m in a great place. But I hit that wall every couple of months where I feel stuck or not doing enough. Somehow I always persevere and appreciate what I have,” says Reece. 

A survey by BetterUp found that 86% of millennials had a quarter-life crisis. Many people expressed financial difficulties. Others reported feeling under pressure to settle down, get married, and have families. Others continued to express stress over their finances, careers, and relationships. The phenomenon is not unique to me. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m not always in a state of anxiety about my life, but when it does hit me, I always try to remind myself that I am where I worked to be. I didn’t get to where I am by chance only. Yes, getting a job requires luck, it also requires hard work, and I worked hard to be here. The anxiety persists, so having to remind myself of the good in my life is a constant process. I am where I deserve to be.

If you liked this, read we should all be bad at things here

Tell us: What do you do when you feel stuck?