The pressures of life, relationships, and academics have become increasingly stressful for adolescents in recent years. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, unable to cope, or wishing you could just hide out in bed for days on end, you know exactly what we mean.
Experiencing some stress in our lives is normal, and even healthy. But when stress accumulates over months or years with no release and no end in sight, it can feel debilitating and it can lead to what we call an Early Life Crises.
What is an Early Life Crisis?
You’ve probably heard of a mid-life crisis -that period of challenging identity and self-confidence that occurs around rough age 45-54 years old. This life crisis has cliché associations with the purchase of sports cars and affairs with younger partners but in reality, it often involves intense self-reflection and the overwhelming feeling of finding yourself halfway through your life, questioning what you’ve accomplished so far.
In contrast, an early life crisis occurs as you stand at the beginning of “real” life and feel panicked about how to start, which direction to choose, and the sheer volume of steps you need to accomplish to reach your goals.
Why Does it Happen?
The pressure put on teens during their adolescent years – to choose a future career; navigate the challenges of dating, sexual identity, and social circles; and achieve impossible levels of academic performance can have devastating effects on mental health.
During times of stress, youth may start to wonder who they really are and what they are supposed to do with their lives, feel trapped with no options, and feel overwhelmed with frustration or confusion.
What Does an Early Life Crisis Look Like?
To understand whether you’re experiencing the effects of an Early Life Crisis, compare your current mental state to the following list:
- Feeling like you don’t fit in
- Being unable to connect with peers, parents or partner
- Unable to find work that has meaning
- Frustration (being able to identify the problem but feeling unable to take steps to resolve the problem)
- Having vague career goals
- Exhibiting poor decision-making skills
- Poor job satisfaction and performance
- Poor communication/interpersonal skills
- Fear of commitment
- Confusion related to one’s own sexuality
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to make decisions, and lack of assertiveness
- Feeling passive, anxious, depressed, or isolated
Although going through an Early Life Crisis can feel incredibly unpleasant, there is a lot of hope here! No matter how overwhelmed you currently feel, know that you are capable of creating meaningful change in your life. Best of all, you’ve already taken the first step by becoming aware of what you’re experiencing.
Next up, we’ll discuss how to gather the strength to face your Early Life Crisis head-on, share coping tools, and create a road map towards mental wellbeing. In the meantime, be gentle with yourself. Understand that this feeling will pass and experiencing struggles in your life doesn’t mean you’re weak – it means you’re human.
So, take a few deep breaths, do something kind for yourself, and stay tuned! A compassionate solution for your Early Life Crisis is just around the corner.