Quarter-Life Crisis: Tips for the 'New Lost Generation'

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 25, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Our lives were supposed to be better than this. They said, "Go to college." They said, "Law is a noble, rewarding, and lucrative profession." They said, "Hard work will lead to greater things."

It hasn't quite happened that way. We, the twenty-somethings of the recession, are the "new lost generation." While tuition was rising, we did the "right" thing, went to school, and then graduated into a barren job market, for law grads and laypeople alike. Yesterday, senators from both sides of the aisle spoke about our issues, yet offered no solutions.

And now, after graduation and a fruitless job search, your life, career, and likely your personal relationships, are not where you want them to be. What do you do about it?


Where are you now? Have you passed the bar exam? Do you have a job or a career? Are there opportunities in your geographical area, or do you need to move?

We're all familiar with the job market, and though some say that the market is delayed, rather than dead, you do need to ask yourself if you are on a path to success. Figure out where you want to be, career-wise, and much like you did in undergrad when preparing for law school, make a plan for the future and carry it out.

Fix What You Can, Accept What You Cannot

There's an old prayer, commonly recited in Alcoholics Anonymous, that is good advice, regardless of religion:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Maybe you're stuck in a career rut, maybe you've failed the bar, or maybe you've decided that law isn't the path you'll be headed down. For things you can't fix (the market), you'll have to wait it out. Unlike justice, a dream delayed isn't necessarily a dream denied.

Focus instead on things you can fix, such as getting in shape, taking CLEs to prepare yourself for the right opportunities, and networking, just in case there is an opportunity.

Maybe take this opportunity to get your personal life in order. After all, if you do land that dream career, you'll probably be working long hours at the start.

You're Not Alone

Like we've said: it's the market. With somewhere around half of all law grads leaving school without a job, and with twenty-somethings nationwide graduating into tepid markets for all professions, you are one of many loan-burdened, career-stunted individuals.

Get out. Network, not just with older professionals, but with groups of young professionals. Maybe you'll find a few friends, start a law firm or startup that changes the industry, and become the next Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Avoid Comparisons

Sure, some of your classmates are in BigLaw. Others are married, with children. You're young, lonely, and broke. Facebook reminds you of both of these facts every day. But don't fall into the comparison trap. Some people have connections. Some get lucky. Some, like Ted Mosby, don't meet the love of their life until the final moments of Season 8.

For most of us, personal and professional fulfillment will only be achieved with patience, perseverance, and hard work.

Most of All, Do Something

Watch Meg Jay's TED talk. Then read her book. It might be the most relevant and motivational text you'll read if you are going through the quarter-life crisis or are a member of the new lost generation.

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