Navigating The Quarter Life Crisis, or Why Living Out of My Car Was the Best Thing I Ever Did

TFT_badge_150x150Something had to give.

I was living in NYC in an apartment my mother owned as part of my compensation for running a business with her.

But even though it was part of my compensation, it still felt like I was just basically living at my mom’s house.

I had begun making progress on my credit card debt, which had ballooned to over $20K. But I didn’t want to pay it off over several years — I was willing to make some big changes in my life in order to wipe it out really fast.

I was 27 years old. I’d been building a business since I was 18. I’d been in love and had my heart broken. I’d had incredible adventures in New York. But now it was time to go.

So I decided to sell the apartment, get rid of almost all of my belongings, and take off on a road trip of indefinite duration, called The Freedom Tour.

In retrospect, I think The Freedom Tour was born of my Quarter Life Crisis.

Leading up to the decision to take off on the open road, my life was pretty amazing. Yet, little bits of resentments, feelings of dullness, and an itch to make a big change that wasn’t going to be scratched by getting a new haircut had begun to bubble to the surface.

I knew I wasn’t going to live in New York City forever. I knew I didn’t want to be in debt forever. And I knew I didn’t want to live in a home my mother owned forever.

It was time to grow up.

And growing up for me meant dramatically changing pretty much everything about my life.

For some Millennials, also known as the Boomerang Generation, growing up has been a bit delayed.

Many of our parents supported us well beyond college. Many of us moved home, in one way or another. Many of us hung out in the gray area between adolescence and adulthood longer than we’d planned, than we were proud of, or than our parents had had in mind for us.

I was one of those.

But then, within 9 months of deciding to fly the nest, I wasn’t. I managed to unravel the business with my mom so we could both be set free, I doubled my income, I paid off all of my debt, and I fell in love.

Not bad for the results of a Quarter Life Crisis.

Here are some of the signs you might be going through a Quarter Life Crisis:

  1. You have no idea what you want to be “when you grow up.”
  2. You’re beginning to imagine every man you go on a date with in a “husband suit.”
  3. You’re getting over the party scene and sometimes you find it more nourishing to spend a night home alone, even if it is a Saturday.
  4. You feel lost.
  5. You’re depressed.
  6. You feel resentful.
  7. You find yourself calculating how old your parents were when they got married, bought a house, and had kids, and comparing it to how old you are currently.
  8. You realize that you thought you’d be “further along” by this time in your life.
  9. Your tendency to spend money willy nilly without thinking has caught up to you and you’re finally ready to do something about it.
  10. You have an itch to make a big change which may include leaving your job, starting a business, traveling the world, or going on an indefinite road trip.

If even a few of those signs apply to you, here’s what I recommend:

Scratch your itch to make a change sooner rather than later. Your life is waiting. (Tweet it.)

Though most of my family and friends were supportive when I embarked on The Freedom Tour, some told me I was crazy. They asked me a lot of questions, to which I simply answered, “I don’t know.”

I found liberation in the not knowing, and I went on the trip anyway.

The worst thing to do is to sit around for another 5 years feeling lost, depressed, disengaged from work, and restless.

Remember:

Nothing changes unless something changes. (Tweet it.)

No matter what your age, giving your life a makeover in honor of your soul’s calling is never a bad idea.

Yes, your new business may fail. You might get Giardia while traveling the world and have to come home. You might realize that you hate the new career and have to move on to something else.

But your bag will be packed with all sorts of insights and new information about yourself and about the world that you never would have gathered sitting in your cubicle or on your mom’s couch debating whether or not to take the leap.

If you’re questioning everything about your life, celebrate it. It’s simply a sign that you’re alive and that you’re fueled by a desire to live extraordinarily.

Then turn that celebration into action. You may end up somewhere else than you thought (like I did, engaged to the “random” guy I invited on my road trip) and that will be a good thing.

If you want more inspiration for navigating the Quarter Life Crisis, my friend Christina Hassler is hosting a free online conference called The Quarter Life Upgrade: Everything You Need To Know To Rock Your 20’s & 30’s.

In my interview for the conference, I shared:

  • Tips for how to get out of debt and release the shame you have around it
  • Breaking free of credit card payment avoidance
  • Ways to increase and appreciate your abundance right now
  • How to set up your “money for me” account and make loving spending decisions
  • Tips for you if you are receiving financial support from your parents

My friends Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Lissa Rankin, and Amanda Steinberg are also part of the event.

Get access to the entire Quarter Life Upgrade FREE Virtual Conference, which runs from July 22nd to 26th, by clicking HERE.

Over to you:

Did you experience a Quarter Life Crisis? How did you navigate it?

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10 comments

  • I love that you had the courage + guts to go on your own freedom tour Kate!
    Sooooooooo freakin’ AH-MA-ZING!

    I’ve had a few “Quarter Life Crisis” and I’ve spent them all travelling in a foreign yet exotic country where I most likely did not speak the language. There’s something really powerful (and magical) about this huge shift in perspective that blows wide open the mind & the heart + creates fresh new possibilities in ones life.

  • Oh my gosh YES! Kate I love this so much! My fave: “If you’re questioning everything about your life, celebrate it. It’s simply a sign that you’re alive and that you’re fueled by a desire to live extraordinarily.”

    That’s so important because most women going through this just feel like such failures because they didn’t have everything ‘figured out’ as soon as they graduated college (or even high school.) Lets face it, we’ll never really have it all figured out, we just have to learn from failure, embrace it and love life anyway!

  • I feel like I’m going through a continual quarter life crisis at the age of 33-going-on-34. I’m gainfully employed (but working on my own business), in debt (but chipping away), and generally dissatisfied with the way many things have gone so far. Yes, I’m working on making changes – but I constantly fight the urge to compare myself to others and where I feel like I “should be” by now.

  • Christine Hassler

    Thank you so much for sharing this Kate – you are such an inspiration and I LOVED having you as part of the Quarterlife Upgrade. So psyched that your interview goes LIVE TODAY!!!

  • Wonderful Kate – thank you! I’m right in the middle of my quarter life crises this very moment – and have been for a while. It’s been brewing for a long time (I’m 28 but I started to feel this itch about one and a half years ago…) and in may something happened to me. It turned from being just “thoughts” and worry that I could push away, and into physical symptoms like shaking, getting sick all the time, mild panic attacks and sadness.

    So I took a “half-leap” and unexpectedly (to me too) told my colleges and boss that I was planning on leaving the company this fall.

    When I read your list of bullet points I started to smile because you’re pretty much describing my feelings at the moment. SO much!

    I’ve been thinking about throwing caution to the wind and study hungarian in Hungary for 6 months… I can’t make up my mind, well because I’m scared. And not sure.

    But girl, your post just helped me figuring it out. A LOT.
    Thank you :)

  • Hi Kate!

    Your articles are resonating more and more with me!

    It seems this is where I’m at!

    I’m almost 30 with 3 kids, a hubby and a business… This is #100 of my business ventures and it seems like I have this vicious cycle of putting all my energy into a business and then quitting after 18months of unsustainable effort. But my current business (If you could call it that, I’m yet to make an income from it!) is in it’s 2nd year! Hooray! But I’m definitely feeling that pressure coming up to 30 years old…

    When am I going to stop struggling financially? Will I always struggle financially? Are some people just destined to be rich and some just not!?

    Those questions churn around constantly, so I think I’m definitely having the Quarter Life Crisis right now!

    P.S I’ve lived in a car before! So I know how that feels! xx

    Thanks for sharing, loving the posts and the GlimpseTV episodes lately they’re really helping me :)

    I also loved your session with Mastin Kipp on the Extravaganza! It was an epic conversation loved it :)

    Love Jana xx

  • […] sent me an article a couple of weeks ago entitled “Navigating The Quarter Life Crisis, or Why Living Out of My Car was the Best Thing I Ever Did…. I think he sent it to me because we’ve both been feeling a general malaise and […]

  • Left the 8-year relationship, left the job, left the state (to move 2,500 miles away)–in that order and over the span of 1.5 years. I, too, was told that I was crazy. But having a quarter-life crisis and navigating through it with love and independence has been better than I could have ever imagined. Back then, before I took these steps, all I knew was that I was in pain, and something had to give. And I loved myself enough to do the “crazy” things that my heart told me I had to and to listen to myself, to know that I was enough.

  • Yes Kate…It happened in the sixties, my reinvention as I call it. I got a ’55 desoto car and left Chicago in the winter storm of the century and headed for Arizona and never looked back. A career in fashion for the beauty and instability of a dude ranch. It was a beautiful thing. I never got into debt, but didn’t need anything but sun, friends, a horse of my own and car. People thought I left my mind and sense back in Chicago. I didn’t care. I had the life of my dreams and a lady at the dude ranch who was a writer wrote my story for a magazine back then. People thought I was brave, but I just pursued a great dream. I never got rich, but I would never change a thing….

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