The Quarter Life Crisis

The Quarter-Life Crisis’ is a transition period during which a person begins to feel anxieties about the direction of their life and the stress of becoming a responsible adult.  Individuals going through this difficult changeover can relate to feelings of being lost, scared, lonely or confused about which steps to take in order to become successful in their chosen career path. These early stages of one living on their own and learning to cope without parental help can also induce these feelings. Having become a society so heavily influenced by social media which showcases only our successes while hiding failures- we are quickly losing touch with the idea of learning from our mistakes and from other people. This leads to the burning question:

Are we becoming a society unable to cope?

With the margin of error becoming  smaller for students facing an unforgiving economy, social environment and  leading a fulfilling life-  host Krishna C. Nadella asks the guests to chime in on their experiences of the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ and how to prepare, cope and launch yourself through this difficult transition.




Meghna Sarmaan incoming student at the NYU Stern School of Business, discusses that going back to school, whether it is for another degree or adding more credentials to your portfolio, is an opportunity to learn through new experiences. She doesn’t view failure necessarily as a downfall as she explains “just because you change your goal it’s not really a failure but a journey which will bring you to a better approach to the next thing you pursue”. This positive approach has led Meghna from a law degree to an MBA where she is excited for the partnerships and learning she will be exposed to. She explains that learning from the position you are in life helps you in ways that formal education sometimes can’t. She sums her point quite elegantly: “You always have to figure out the next stop no matter what position you are in this may be seen as a -Quarter Life Crisis- but take it as a learning endeavor”.

Further on in the discussion the topic changes to the time of college, and what to learn from the experiences there. It is understood that college is meant to be a time to learn about oneself through trial and error in preparation for the real world. In the race to become a successful, all-around student, we must ask ourselves – is college no longer a place that one can fail and learn from those mistakes?

Pamela KavalamStudent Services Administration at NYU Wagner School of Public Service provides her insights on personal as well as professional experience where she has worked with many graduate students.  From her perspective, she advises to get out of your comfort zone and do something different from your undergrad – what do you want to develop? Pamela summarizes that it is all about finding yourself through trial and error and figuring out what is right for you. She also believes that the undergraduate level was very important for developing skills (thinking critically and on your feet) while graduate school was more focused with content.  It is not the be-all end-all if college does not specifically help you figure out what you want to do with your life. These soft skills and failures you face on a day-to-day basis shape you as a person and propel you in the future.

Dr. Priscilla Rogers-Fahy, Associate Director of Counselling and Advisement Center at BMCC, encourages people who are in school to approach new opportunities to get engaged and seek help if needed. “Start here, go anywhere” is her (and BMCC’s) motto and if you do make mistakes that’s okay because you will pick yourself up- there is no shame in going back to school or taking a few years off she adds. She also believes that stress is a very real issue where you need to develop how to reduce these anxieties and manage this. Stress is all caused by your emotional state which is heavily influenced while at college through various stimulants such as grades, friends and career aspirations. It might also be beneficial to your mental state if you talk to a counselor and really look for ways to cope with the stresses of student life.

Speaking from personal experience, the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ is an ongoing process for everyone whether it is taking a break from formal education, entering the final years of school, recently graduating, or not satisfied in one’s career. It’s a difficult transition period where life hits you straight on – no more living with your friends in student housing, your student debt starts accumulating interest and you’re facing overwhelming career choices. I have compiled some key points to take from this episode that each individual can use to help dodge this difficult period of time:

  • Networking – reach out to your alumni network and ask these individuals how they dealt with stressors. Trust me; these individuals are looking to help people because they were once in your position.
  • Talk to Guidance Counselors – always keep your academic advisers in the loop when wanting to learn more about career options or uncertainties. Look at it this way, they work to enhance the lives of students, take full advantage of that!
  • Mistakes happen – you’re bound to get a bad grade, transfer degrees or even drop out. Whatever the size of your ‘problem,’ just know it can all be fixed and will work out in the long run.
  • Take care of yourself – you have to follow your gut but there are always people around you who might say something else. Make sure to follow your instincts and do something you love.
  • You only know what you know – you can look back and say things didn’t go as planned, don’t regret it, just move forward and bring that positive attitude every day.
  • Don’t undervalue yourself – do not worry if you think you don’t have something to offer to an employer when networking. You have value, come off as confident and seeking to make a relationship that is valuable

Is the quarter life crisis a thing for you? Continue the discussion with your peers and plan the best course of action.

Hope to catch you next episode! But until then what is your state of mind?


Writer: Bukhtar Khan

Host, STATE OF MIND with Krishna C. Nadella
Every Life Is A Book…Make Yours A Bestseller!

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