Overcoming Fear: Lessons Learned From My Quarter Life Crisis

A common phenomenon that seems to be occurring among 20somethings is the Quarter Life Crisis. If you’ve been following the blog for a while then you may have begun to overcome yours already. If not, you may be in the middle of it.

For some, this QLC manifests itself in the fear of personal and professional uncertainty. While economically things are looking better than they were a couple of years ago, there’s still a long haul ahead – as a result we start panicking about our careers, our finances, and whatever path we’re meant to take in life.

For others, they are just overwhelmed by choices. We can literally do whatever we want. Want to move to New York City? Do it. Want to start your own business? Do it. Want to travel around the world? Do it.

There’s no longer a blueprint. We don’t have to get married right away. We don’t have to work for someone else. We don’t have to conform to a certain set of rules.

My quarter life crisis was a mix of both. The fear of uncertainty was strangling me while my options were beyond overwhelming. I didn’t know what path to take. For the first time in my life, no one was telling me what to do. And what ensued was a fear spiral that lasted close to a year.

It all started my last semester. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t happy, and panic attacks became a common phenomenon. While other students graduated and were able to settle into their careers, or even just relax with games of foxybingo; or trips to visit friends elsewhere, I was still a bundle of nerves with no real plans. I was absolutely petrified of the future, but worse, I was petrified of repeating my past.

Does any of this sound familiar yet?

I’ve slowly begun to overcome this fear. Granted, it’s been a huge work in progress. Sometimes I still fall and the fearful thoughts come over me like a tornado. Am I at the right job? Am I doing the right thing? Do I even want a romantic relationship? Am I okay with myself? What do I even believe anymore?

The key lies in facing your fears. Just kicking back and saying “Hello Fear, how are you today?” This may sound somewhat absurd, but if we don’t begin to face our fears we’ll never really overcome them. As a wonderful life coach told me recently, “Have tea with your fear.”

Below you’ll find some tools that have helped me overcome my own fear of uncertainty.

Stop Comparing Yourself

Comparing yourself to others is a sure-fire way to set off a fear spiral. You’ll get a case of what many coaches call the “When I Have’s”. In other words, “I’ll be happy when I have that boyfriend”, “I’ll be happy when I have that job”, “I’ll be happy when I have X dollars in my bank account.”

Guys, seriously, it’s all crap. First of all, you don’t how what a person really has. Maybe their relationship, careers and bank accounts are in shambles. Second, you have to be okay with your own path and your own desires – not someone else’s. Just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean it will for you.

Be Okay With Your Fear

Fighting your feelings will only make it worse. I should know, I’m an expert at this. As soon as I feel some sort of fear or uncertainty coming on I start thinking “Stop it! You shouldn’t be feeling this way! It’s stupid! You suck for feeling this way!”

The truth of the matter is we’re not perfect. Fear, uncertainty and sadness will creep in every once in a while. Rather than pushing it away and making it worse, sit with it. Allow yourself to actually feel so you can release it and move on.

Most of all try and do this without judgment. Simply witness how you are feeling without beating yourself up about it. (Seriously, this one has been a good tool for me!)

Stop Watching the News

I’ve joked about this before in an interview I did with Lindsay Hunt. If you want to start feeling better, stop watching the news.

Don’t get sucked into news segments whose only job is to get better ratings. This is especially true with the 24 hour news channels; they have a lot of time to fill and a limited number of stories, so you’ll just hear the same fearful crap over and over again.

If you feel the incessant need to be in the know simply ask someone what the day’s headlines are.

The aforementioned are three things that have really helped me overcome the fear of uncertainty that was my Quarter Life Crisis.

Do you have anything that has helped you? Feel free to share in the comments section!

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3 Responses to Overcoming Fear: Lessons Learned From My Quarter Life Crisis

  1. Johnny April 17, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I think you nailed it on the head when you said that QLC comes from uncertainty, not having a plan. Without a plan, it seems like you have to confront everything at once and it gets overwhelming. So I’d recommend really doing some soul searching to determine what kind of life you want and how you want to get it. Then make a plan and take a workman like approach to fulfilling it. Focusing on smaller goals will keep everything from seeming like too much to handle.

    • Amanda Abella April 18, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Yes! Great strategy! I’m all about the soul searching mixed with baby steps :) Thank you for sharing!

  2. John April 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Hey Amanda, I’m writing on this topic as well: how to quell the quarter life crisis. Check it out at quellingtheQLC.com

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