Have you hit a crossroads in life? A huge 75% of us do at a certain age – and Vanessa Hudgens is no different.
Forget the mid-life crisis: the quarter-life crisis is becoming increasingly more common.
Research shows that some 75% of us have found ourselves going through a period of intense soul searching and stress in our mid 20s to early 30s, with the typical sufferer “highly driven and smart, but struggling because they feel they’re not achieving their potential or feeling they’re falling behind,” according to psychologist Nathan Gehlert.
And Vanessa Hudgens, who first shot to fame in Disney’s High School Musical, is no different.
Sitting down with People as part of their ‘Beautiful Issue’, Hudgens explained that she found herself at “crisis” point when she reached the age of 27.
“I remember waking up at 27 and that was the first moment where I was like, ‘Oh. I am not a kid. I’m not a teenager. I’m an adult and I have responsibilities,’” she said.
“I felt like I had no idea who I was or what I wanted or what I was going after.”
Rather than allow herself to be swallowed up by her “momentary freak-out”, though, Hudgens decided to lean into her feelings, address her fears head-on and work out why she was experiencing them.
“I’m very grateful for it because then it forced me to reassess who I am and what I believe in, therefore giving me just a better understanding of myself,” she said. “Now that I’ve reached 30, it’s so nice feeling free to just speak your mind.”
According to a recent study from LinkedIn, one of the biggest triggers for a quarter-life crisis is comparison – a common practice of rating your progress against the lives, careers, and relationships of those around you. has thrown the issue into the spotlight, identifying the habit of comparing oneself to successful friends as one of the leading reasons for a quarter-life crisis.
The career networking website grilled over 6,000 people aged 25-33 in the States, Britain, India and Australia. The research aimed to dig deeper into the quarter-life crisis, something LinkedIn defines as “a period of insecurity and doubt that many people in their mid 20s to early 30s go through surrounding their career, relationships, and finances”.
LinkedIn found that a massive 75% of those aged 25-33 suffer a quarter-life crisis. Among these people, nearly half (48%) said comparing themselves to their (apparently) more successful friends triggered the dilemma. The effect was more pronounced among women than men (51% versus 41%).
It’s perhaps no surprise that in this age of chronic over-sharing, we’re feeling the pressure to match up to others’ achievements more than ever before. And it seems that – as the LinkedIn study indicates – women are especially prone to falling into the comparison trap.
“As women, we’re conditioned to measure ourselves against our peers because it’s a way to give ourselves validation and approval,” psychologist Dr Marissa Wolfe tells Stylist. “Men are socialised to be more accepting of themselves. The men I work with benchmark in measurable areas like salary and performance but don’t tend to compare themselves in the highly subjective areas my female clients use.”
It’s exhausting because no matter how much we achieve, it feels like it’s never enough. But the best way of overcoming comparison, according to Dr Wolfe, is to be aware of how fruitless it is. “I see it becoming stronger in clients who panic about […] not being where they feel they ‘should’ be,” she says. “It ebbs as people age and begin to inhabit themselves in a more comfortable way. My happiest clients are the ones who notice that pang of comparison and mindfully unpack it, asking, ‘Would this work for me? Does it make me feel good?’”
Gehlert, who heads a support group called QuarterLife+10, told The Muse that the best cure for a quarter-life crisis is communication.
“The best and first thing you should do if you’re feeling stuck and unhappy is to start talking to your friends,” he said. “I struggled similarly in my 20s, and it helped me remember that my perception of ‘falling behind’ wasn’t really accurate.”
Gehlert also recommends an outside-of-work mentor, as your boss may not always have your best interest in mind.
“It’s really important to have someone who you can be completely honest with,” he explained.
Images: iStock / LinkedIn / Rex Features