Many of the young clients that come into my office seem to be struggling with making the transition from post-secondary school into the real world. They are the young adults who have just successfully graduated from their College or University programs but struggle to make the next step. The reason behind their hesitation is not what you may think it is initially. Many of them struggle to even get past putting in applications for job postings. The job search terrifies them not because there is a lack of jobs necessarily but because they do not feel good enough or they completely feel lost on what career is for them. Struggling with self-identity or self-esteem issues is what holds them back. I’ve even seen clients who have entered into programs that their parents have picked out for them. These young adults feel trapped in a world that doesn’t hold true to themselves. Regardless, the question remains the same: why are these young adults suffering a transitional crisis so early on? We mostly hear jokes and passings about mid-life crises. We hear frequently about empty nest transition crises. However, we rarely hear about young people suffering a crisis in their 20’s. This is often referred to as a quarter life crisis. A quarter-life crisis is defined as a period of life between the decades of late teens to early thirties where a person can feel doubtful about their own lives bringing about stress about becoming an adult. Common symptoms of a quarter life crisis are often feelings of being “lost, scared, lonely or confused” about what steps to take in order to transition properly into adulthood. Studies have shown that unemployment and choosing a career path is a major cause for young persons to undergo stress or anxiety. Early stages of one living on their own for the first time and learning to cope without parental help can also induce feelings of isolation and loneliness. (wikipedia). Erik Erikson proposed 8 crises that adults can face in their lifetime development. He named the crises during a young adulthood stage Intimacy vs. Isolation (wikipedia).
There is an economic crisis that is happening in today’s world. One important shift that is our new reality is that a College diploma or a University degree does not guarantee a career or job. There are many interventions you can assist in helping your clients. One of them being discussing the reality of the workforce and the potentiality of entering a career or job which may not be the desired one, at least to start. This can be looked at as a re-evaluation of their current reality. You can also help clients find their values to help them make a transition. Use specific value exercises that help clients identify their values and true core self. They may be surprised that many of their values may have nothing to do with the working world or may even help them make a decision for a next career move. Help clients build up their self-esteem. Post-secondary school fails to teach their students this. A counsellor can definitely help with self-esteem building interventions. Teach clients about failure and how to be resilient after a failure. Failures are life’s teaching lessons. They help us to grow and re-evaluate what is important. They teach us about humility and perseverance. Encourage clients to make finding work their full time position and this can include building their self-esteem for the workplace as well. Time management skills can be valuable as well as establishing a routine based on finding work. A healthy routine not only sets realistic goals but includes self-care practices in order to achieve that goal. Work on how to collaboratively break down barriers to their success. What is that little nagging voice telling them? Can they learn new coping skills to achieve their goals?
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA