Are you having a quarter life crisis? An Interview with Rachel Jones

 
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In Rachel Jones’ recent book Is This It? she describes what it feels like to have a ‘quarter life crisis.’ We caught up with Rachel and asked her to tell us more.

“The ‘quarter life crisis’ describes a period in your 20s or early 30s of anxiety and dissatisfaction about where your life is at and where it’s going,” she explains.

This can come about through a vast array of factors including dissatisfying work, relationship concerns or questions about the meaning of life.

Apparently career networking site LinkedIn found that that 75% of 25-33-year olds report having a quarter life crisis.

Is this a modern thing?

“In one sense, I don’t think the quarter life crisis is anything newyour 20s have always been a time in your life when you’re working out who you are and what the rest of your life is going to look like.”

Rachel’s right. But there does seem to be something particular about this generation’s expectations of life.

“I suppose there are some factors that have made it a ‘thing’ in more recent years. We’re more geographically mobile, so we can up sticks and move if we want. Careers are more fluid too—people no longer tend to stick with one company, or even one line of work.”

This comes with its advantages, but it can also be disorienting as we try to find ‘our thing.’

Also, getting married and (if we're fortunate enough) buying a house are life markers that are happening a lot later than in previous generations. It can feel like a bumpy transition into adulthood.

And then there’s that little black box in your pocket which connects you to the rest of the world.

“Social media gives us the ability to compare where we are on life’s ladder with where everyone else is (or appears to be).”

Rachel’s right to hesitate. When you spend your time looking at a highlights reel of everyone else’s life, a quarter life crisis is almost inevitable.

What does it actually feel like to have a quarter life crisis?

So we got personal. But Rachel’s honesty about her experience is refreshing.

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“I’d describe it as feeling a little bit lost, a little bit lonely, a little bit like you’re looking for something but you’re not sure what it is. For me it looked like a nine-month period where I didn’t really like what I was doing or where I was living.”

And when you feel like that, you do everything to change your circumstances, right?

“Some of that was external circumstances that needed to change, but some of it was down to an internal perspective that also needed to change.”

And when we start analysing our discontentment with life, it can come with guilt. After all, we probably don’t have it half as bad as our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.

“But however hard I tried I couldn’t shake the feeling.”

How does Jesus change the way we should walk through a quarter life crisis?

Well, Jesus changes everything.

One thing Rachel said sticks out: “I don’t need to prove myself to God because God’s already proven faithful to me in Christ.”

Christians are secure, not needing to climb up the slippery slope of social expectations when God’s expectations of us have been met in Jesus.

He’s become our Father – and our Father is in control of every situation and circumstance. Rachel speaks about how her relationship with God led to a thriving prayer life in the midst of her situation.

“I saw a lot of God’s goodness in answers to prayer around specific circumstances—these felt slow in coming at the time, but I can look back now and say that I saw God weaving all things together for my good.”

Of course, there are still times she gets ‘quarter life crisis feelings’. One time was recently at New Year’s when she panicked about what she’d be doing in a decade’s time. But the truth of the gospel helped her put things in right perspective.

“It occurred to me that Jesus might come back before then—in which case, all my worrying would have been useless.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t try to make wise decisions about our future but, “there’s also a place for taking each day as it comes and seeking to honour God with each one.”

And no matter what happens over however many decades, it’s  “just a tiny, tiny fraction of an eternity that will far outweigh them – and that’s a gift.”

It certainly is.

What support can churches offer?

In a disorientating world, church can provide “a sense of ‘home’ when we’re feeling far from our own, an experience of family when we’re longing for meaningful community, and an anchor point in the midst of endless rented houseshares or job moves.”

But what does that sense of ‘home’ actually look like on the ground?

“Hospitality is hugely important—it’s amazing when people open up their home and their life in a way that says, ‘You belong here.’”

And as someone who is ‘married to no one, has zero kids and frequently questions where her life is going,’ Rachel mentions one further way churches can help their quarter-life-crisis-sufferers.

“It’s helpful when not every after-church conversation is about houses or weddings or work. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have meaningful conversations about Jesus?”

Yes, it would. And while this would be a good place to close the interview, we had one more question for Rachel.

If you could give your twenty-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Don’t worry: God’s got this, so everything is going to be OK.”

 
 

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