Cracking the Quarter-Life Crisis


I had never quite understood the term “turbulent twenties” until I was painstakingly trudging through them. I thought college would be the tough part and that it would be nothing but smooth sailing from there on out, reaping the benefits of all of my efforts. Well, after surviving a year in the “real” world, I’m here to tell you how embarrassingly wrong I was.

After months of loathsomely tossing back many gallons of dairy-free ice cream on the couch and crying into any and all surrounding pillows, I accepted that I was having a quarter-life crisis. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life or where I wanted to go next. I felt like I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and for what? I was going through the motions of life, but was somehow still en route to absolutely nowhere.

Career Contessa

As my six-month pity party finally came to an end, I picked myself up and got to work. I joined a few groups and organizations, attended various networking events, and read dozens and dozens of self help books, which focused on topics like career development, fulfillment and passion, and of course, mental health. Among these books, I read one that was particularly beneficial to me, which I am here to share with you today: The Quarter-Life Breakthrough by Adam Smiley Poswolsky.

This book was a game changer for me and I urge all of you struggling twentysomethings to pick it up straight away. Each page contains words of wisdom, inspiration, and hope along with dozens of helpful activities. Below you will find a curated assortment of my favorite quotes from the book, just to give you a tiny taste of what to expect. (All quotes come from Adam, unless otherwise noted.)

  • How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. — Annie Dillard
  • Refuse to settle for mediocrity.
  • Always ignore people who tell you not to pursue your dreams. Almost everything has already been done, but it hasn’t been done by you, and that’s all that matters.
  • You can’t go backward if you’re learning.
  • The long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will all be constantly rethinking them. You can’t rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable. — Robert Safian
  • The journey is the journey — There is no finish line, no top of the ladder. Your career is simply a series of journeys.
  • The first part of any quarter life breakthrough is when a light goes on, alerting you that something in your life isn’t working.
  • You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both. — Brene Brown
  • When you hustle toward meaningful work, the universe conspires to support your efforts.
  • Every experience offers the opportunity to learn what matters to you, and what doesn’t.
  • You just need to be able to inspire one person.
  • Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too can become great. — Mark Twain
  • There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. — Nelson Mandela
  • Having a breakthrough is about leaving behind something for others. It’s about creating a legacy. Your legacy is how people will remember you beyond your twenties, and after your life.

I’ve come a long way in just 365 days and I owe much of my newfound zest for life to this book. If you’ve ever felt the way I have, know that you’re not alone, and that with some deep digging and hustle, you’ll get exactly where you’re meant to go. I’ll conclude with just one more quote, in case the others weren’t enough (it’s my all-time favorite):