At the age of 25, no one really has a grasp on what they are doing with their life, regardless of the common goals society has set out as the norm. Typically, a young adult at the age of 25 has just recently graduated university, entered the workforce full time, and are scared out of their mind. They dread the idea of being stuck in a dead end job with no specific direction. Some would consider this a crisis. It seems that an alarming number of young adults are leaving university feeling lost and trapped in a set path of life. They are overwhelmed with the pressure of work, finances, and relationship; and they are not happy about it. Some people simply have to step out of the norm of society to figure out how they can fit in it. This is their call to action.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, “A study found six in ten Millennials — the generation reaching adulthood in the early 21st century — have suffered from a ‘quarter-life crisis’ in which work, financial and relationship pressures left them unhappy and confused” (Hoyle & Brick, 2018). This crisis is most prevalent in the recent years following university graduation, but can also occur while an individual is still attending university. Students get sick of the daily grind. They want more from their future than a 9-5 job, marriage, and kids. They crave an extraordinary adventure; to live out of backpacks, and make a difference in the world. It is the desire to break out of the norms of society to transform into the person they are meant to become. They strive for a nirvana in the world, and are willing to go far distances to get it, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
As terrifying as it is, walking into a country where one does not speak the language, know the customs, or recognize a single face around them is where growth takes place. When a challenge is faced, there are two possible results. One is that the person fails and never tries again. There is no benefit in this result. Two is the person fails and is then motivated to keep trying until they succeed. This creates personal growth. With each success the zone of comfort an individual places themselves within is expanded. The benefit is that this expansion never stops. One can continue to push their limits and their abilities until the end of their days if they are motivated to do so.
In the process of embarking on this journey, one can learn years’ worth of knowledge and experience in a very short amount of time. On top of gaining knowledge of language and culture, one learns to be themselves and not listen to the judgment of those who do not know them. It is life changing to know that one can become their own hero of their story; they are front and center of the adventure. They strive for transformational experiences to further develop themselves, while they go off on an epic expedition.
The novel Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a wonderful example of a quest for adventure. Strayed makes the decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Central California to Northern Oregon after the downward spiral her life took following the death of her mother. She was alone and scared and did not like the direction her life was going. As a result, she chose to step out of the life she knew to find herself on the Pacific Crest Trail. After months of battling both herself and Mother Nature, she returned home mentally ready to step back into society. She came to terms with how her life turned out and the direction she needed to take to become who she wanted to be. Cheryl wrote, “I’d finally come to understand what it had been: a yearning for a way out, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in.” And she was not alone. Across the world hundreds of young adults are doing the same thing in their own ways.
There is a whole industry that is built around this pattern of traveling with a purpose in today’s young adults. Organizations such as Peace Corp, DoctorsWithoutBorders, Recreation Equipment Inc., Chilcotin Holidays Guest Ranch, Transformational Travel Council, and so many other companies have been able to grow from the collective desire from young adults to step away from the norms of life in an effort to make a difference in themselves and the world. Peace Corp explains it well: “Peace Corps Volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lives on long after their service—at the same time becoming global citizens and serving their country.”
The return to normal life is the most difficult part of this journey. The world one left may still be the same but the individual is not. This transformation of becoming a changed person manifests courage, confidence, and purpose in one’s life. Following her own journey, Internet blogger Kim states, “I have no doubt that these past 13 months have changed me. What I haven’t quite figured out is how I can carry this change back into a world that hasn’t changed all that much. Perhaps this shift will be something that I end up silently holding inside of me, something I keep for myself” Stepping back into the world that was once left behind is almost like trying to put on a shoe that someone else has already broken in. It could be just the right size but still just does not feel right for a while. It takes some time to learn how to use the knowledge and experience one’s gained and incorporate that back into everyday life without forgetting it all. It can sometimes be a delicate balance.
Barely anyone between the ages of twenty to thirty years old quite has a grasp on what the next step should be yet, regardless of how society portrays the ideal life. Often, a young adult at 25 has graduated university, started a career, and is terrified for dear life. They are struggling to find their purpose in life. More students are leaving university even more lost and confused then when they entered. But, more students are also finding the peace and freedom through the process of setting off on an extraordinary journey and becoming their own heroes of their stories. As Mark Twain says in his famous poem The Road Not Taken, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” This is how one changes the world, by starting with changing themselves.
- “Peace Corps.”A South African Storm,
- Alford, Russell James. “Facing a ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ Turning 25 in London.” The Irish Times, The Irish Times, 27 Apr. 2016,
- Dinan, Kim. “On Coming Home After 13 Life-Changing Months” So Many Places, 10 Jan. 2015,
- Strayed, Cheryl.WILD: From Lost to Found. Knopf, 2012.
- Twain, Mark. The Road Not Taken. 1920.
- Casey, and Julie. “Quarterlife Crisis – Find Your Fire and Work Around Modern Problems!” Personal Tao, One River, 2005,
- Hoyle, Antonia. “Rise of the Quarter Life Crisis: Brave or Recklessly Self-Indulgent?” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 31 May 2018.