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According to The Boston Globe, the quarter-life crisis occurs in one's twenties, after entering the "real world". Erik H. Erikson, who proposed eight crises that humans face during their development, proposed the existence of a life crisis occurring at this age. The conflict he associated with young adulthood is the Intimacy vs. Isolation crisis. According to him, after establishing a personal identity in adolescence, young adults seek to form intense, usually romantic relationships with other people.
Common symptoms of a quarter-life crisis are often feelings of being "lost, scared, lonely or confused" about what steps to take in order to transition properly into adulthood. Studies have shown that unemployment and choosing a career path is a major cause for young persons to undergo stress or anxiety. Early stages of one living on their own for the first time and learning to cope without parental help can also induce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Re-evaluation of one's close personal relationships can also be a factor, with sufferers feeling they have outgrown their partner or believing others may be more suitable for them.
Recently, Millennials are sometimes referred to as the Boomerang Generation or Peter Pan Generation, because of the members' perceived penchant for delaying some rites of passage into adulthood for longer periods than previous generations, though this can also be attributed to the increasing exaggeration of societal barriers that were not so present for previous generations. These labels were also a reference to a trend toward members living with their parents for longer periods than previous generations.
The notion of the quarter-life crisis is explored by the 1967 film The Graduate, one of the first film depictions of this issue. Other notable films that also do so are Bright Lights, Big City; The Paper Chase; St. Elmo's Fire; How to Be; Reality Bites; Garden State; Accepted; Ghost World; High Fidelity; (500) Days of Summer; Lost in Translation; Silver Linings Playbook; and Vicky Cristina Barcelona as well as the musical Avenue Q, in the telvision show (TV series) “[ [The Office]]”, and the HBO television series Girls. The 2008 web series Quarterlife was so named for the phenomenon. Other movies exploring the quarter-life crisis include: Tiny Furniture, The Puffy Chair, Fight Club, Stranger than Fiction, Greenberg, Frances Ha and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A 2014 comedy directed by Lynn Shelton titled Laggies lightheartedly delves into the complexities of a quarter-life crisis.
The 1975 Fleetwood Mac song "Landslide", written by Stevie Nicks in her late twenties, explores many of the self-doubts and fears of the quarter-life crisis, at a time when Nicks professed to be uncertain about her musical career and her romantic life.
"20 Something", the final track on SZA's 2017 album Ctrl, delves into the many insecurities she experienced in her twenties, both personal and professional, and the urgency she felt to make the most of her life before entering into mature adulthood.
- Jessica Girdwain. "How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis". SELF.
- "Most 25 to 35-year-olds suffering from a 'quarter-life crisis'". Daily Mail.
- Goldstein, Meredith (September 8, 2004). "The quarter-life crisis". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
- Erikson, Erik H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: W. W. Norton.
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- "20 Something, SZA". Genius Media Group, Inc.
- Barr, Damian. Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis. Hodder & Stoughton Paperbacks, 2004. ISBN 0-340-82903-6
- Hassler, Christine. "20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-life Woman's Guide to Balance and Direction." New World Library, 2005. ISBN 978-1-57731-476-9.
- Hassler, Christine. "20-Something Manifesto: Quarter-Lifers Speak Out About Who They Are, What They Want, and How to Get It" New World Library, 2008. ISBN 978-1-57731-595-7.
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