“Crisis” seems like an awfully strong word for the uncertainty that almost all of us face as we try to develop our adult careers, relationships, and lives. It seems like the phrase “Quarter-Life Crisis” is just old wine with a new label. I don’t see how it’s different than the crisis (and it’s certainly not as significant) as the malaise and depression that was encountered by Europe’s veterans and survivors of World War I.
An American or European in his or her mid-20s does have 9/11 and its aftermath as a defining moment in his or her life. Undoubtedly, it was a seminar event that forced discussions about life, death, faith, etc., in schools and outside of schools. And perhaps that has left some free-floating anxiety amongst the masses. But let’s put that into context.
First, the post-9/11 era has been a time of huge economic gains across the world. This might come as a shocking statement, but it’s completely accurate. The shift to an information-based economy in the West has opened up jobs for the precise demographic that allegedly is undergoing a unique crisis: people with newly earned high school and college degrees. These same people are naturally developing a facility with the tools of the Information Age, and this will leave them in good stead professionally for the rest of their working lives.
Second, the rapid innovation in technology has opened unprecedented opportunities for young people to meet other young people around the world, to share ideas, etc. This is a strengthening of the international society, not a weakening – not a source of anxiety.
Third, the parents of today’s quarter-lifers remain alive and well. These parents have benefitted from some of the things that quarter-lifers complain about – namely, rising housing prices. So these quarter-lifers will simply be able to borrow or inherit from their parents, as needed.
In short, I just don’t see a justification for a “crisis” mentality, except that each generation needs to label itself in some way in order to feel that its problems are special (even though they are the same as everyone else’s).