"Some were unemployed. Most were underemployed. All felt incomplete. They were a group of friends who were all just about 25. After college they had moved to Boston, the closest city to their respective universities, and were now experiencing what some have dubbed a quarter-life crisis."
That was the opening to a recent Boston Globe article, and it was the second time I came across "quarter-life crisis," a term new to me. Just about two weeks ago, a young manager of a deli shop explained to me how he almost had a nervous breakdown while sitting in a cubicle at his first job after finishing his higher education. He decided then and there to quit his job and to do something he would enjoy: making sandwiches.
I, like many other Baby Boomers, am very familiar with the term "mid-life crisis," as we all probably experienced one. Mine was when I hit forty, which was about one-half of my expected life, and I decided to reassess what I accomplished and where was I going with my career.
Well, it seems individuals in their 20s are experiencing a similar crisis much earlier that is probably in addition to a later mid-life crisis they will also experience. So what is a quarter-life crisis?
There is no scientific definition that I know. But my guess is, those experiencing it are well-educated, just starting the search for an entry-level position in their "chosen" field, or bored at that first job as a new adult. Many might have been forced out of economic necessity to move back in their parents' home. They probably also owe a lot in student loans, and have been told that they better start saving for retirement, as Social Security, if it exists when they retire, will provide very little. They also might be a depressed, frustrated, and wondering where and when they will find happiness and success.
The interesting thing is that unless you are in your 20s or have a child in his or her 20s experiencing a quarter-life crisis, you are probably not aware of this phenomenon. I would also say that those who are involved in the hiring and staff retention at accounting firms are part of this clueless group. With staffing being such a critical concern for firms, it would be wise to focus more on the differences in the generations and their unique experiences and view of life and the workplace.
As a starting point, those interested might want to visit www.quarterlifecrisis.com . All is not bad, as, like any other crisis, whatever you survive makes your stronger. But that might not provide much solace to some just starting their career at an accounting firm.
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