New research by British psychologists shows educated twenty and thirtysomethings
most likely to be hit by pre-midlife blues.
It is supposed to be the time of opportunity and adventure, before
mortgagesand marriage have taken their toll. But struggling to cope with
anxieties about jobs, unemployment, debt and relationships, many young adults
are experiencing a "quarterlife crisis", according to new research by British
Bearing all the hallmarksof the midlife crisis, this phenomenon –
characterised by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness and depression – is
hitting twenty- and thirtysomethings shortly after they enter the "real world",
with educated professionals most likely to suffer.
"Quarterlife crises don't happen literally a quarter of the way through
your life," said lead researcher Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of
Greenwich in London. "They occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the
period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30."
Robinson, who presented his findings at the British Psychological Society
Annual Conference in Glasgow, worked with researchers from Birkbeck College on
what he says is the first research to look at the quarterlife crisis from a
"solid, empiricalangle based on data rather than speculation."
The research is backed by a survey undertaken by Gumtree.com which found
86% of the 1,100 young people questioned admitted feeling under pressure to
succeed in their relationships, finances and jobs before hitting 30.
Two in five were worried about money, saying they did not earn enough, and
32% felt under pressure to marry and have children by the age of 30. Six percent
were planning to emigrate, while 21% wanted a complete career change.
But Robinson also found that the quarterlife crisis – which lasts on
average for two years – can be a positive experience. Such early-life crises
have four phases, he said, moving from feelings of being trapped to a
catalystfor change then, eventually, the building and cementingof a new
"The results will help reassure those who are experiencing this transition
that it is a commonly experienced part of early adult life, and that a proven
pattern of positive change results from it," said Robinson.
Damian Barr, author of the book Get it Together: A Guide to Surviving Your
Quarterlife Crisis, said growing numbers of 25-year-olds are experiencing
pressures previously felt by those in their mid-forties.
"Plenty of people are going to say the quarterlife crisis doesn't exist,"
he said. "The truth is that our 20s are not, as they were for our parents, 10
years of tie-dye fun and quality 'me' time. Being twentysomething now is scary–
fighting millions of other graduates for your first job, struggling to raise a
mortgage deposit and finding time to juggleall your relationships.
"We have the misfortune to be catapulted into a perilousproperty market.
We're earning more and spending more than ever. We're getting into debt to
finance our degrees, careers and accommodation."
He added: "The Depression Alliance estimates that a third of
twentysomethings feel depressed.
"If, as we're constantly told, the world is our oyster, it's definitely a
dodgyone. Unlike the midlife crisis, the quarterlife crisis is not widely
recognised. There are no 'experts' to help us. We have no support apart from
Four phases of a quarterlife crisis
Phase 1, defined by feeling "locked in" to a job or relationship, or both.
"It's an illusorysense of being trapped," said Robinson. "You can leave but you
feel you can't."
Phase 2 is typifiedby a growing sense that change is possible. "This mental
and physical separation from previous commitments leads to all sorts of
emotional upheavals. It allows exploration of new possibilities with a closer
link to interests, preferences and sense of self.
"Up until then you may be driving fast down a road you don't want to be
going down. A minority of participants described getting caught in a loop, but
the majority reflected on a difficult time which was a catalyst for important
Phase 3 is a period of rebuilding a new life.
Phase 4 is the cementing of fresh commitments that reflect the young
person's new interests, aspirations and values.
thirtysomethings adj. 三十多岁的（人）；三十多岁功成名就的（人） n. 三十多岁事业有成的人
quarterlife crisis 青年危机，指二十几岁的年轻人，尤其在刚刚完成学业后，经历的迷茫、焦虑及自我怀疑等情绪。这是仿照mid-life
cluster v. 聚集；丛生
empirical adj. 经验主义的，完全根据经验的
speculation n. 思索；推测
backed by 依靠；在……的支持下
emigrate v. 移民；移居国外
be trapped to 被困在……
catalyst n. 刺激因素；催化剂
illusory adj. 错觉的；幻影的；虚假的
typify v. 作为…的典型；具有…的特点
upheaval n. 剧变；动乱
up until then 直到那时
get caught in 陷入；遇到
1. Can you conclude what quarterlife crisis is according to the
2. What's the difference between quarterlife crisis and mid-life