The Midlife Crisis Has Come Sooner Than Expected For Millennials. Here’s How They’re Coping.

35 is the new 45 when it comes to experiencing a hypothetical midlife crisis, which is younger than what has been seen in previous decades, according to a study by the National Institute on Aging. 72.24 million millennials will blow out their birthday candles this year. Some will inevitably wonder if where they are in life aligns with where they should be. That realization causes feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction, and uncertainty. And it’s not any easier with a looming mental health crisis brought on by the pandemic as well as the economic downturns, both COVID-related and not.

Navigating Through The Uncertainty

Many external stressors catalyze millennials’ decisions to reevaluate relationships, purpose, and careers in pursuit of deeper meaning and happiness. “Maybe it’s a cultural thing or maybe it’s a boomer thing, but my (Filipino) parents would have chosen (job) stability over pursuing passion and meaning haha! But they’re supportive of me,” says Denise Alignay, a millennial who left her job in Education for Christian Media. She finds fulfillment more important than a high-paying salary. You see, millennials have mustered up the bravery to do what generations before us did not prioritize. Millennials care for themselves, explore new ventures, and seek spiritual and mental help. I kind of felt something was missing. As you get older, certain things happen in life and you change your perspective. You look at things really differently,” says Claire Smith, a 39-year-old single mom learning to navigate life alone is lonely and challenging.

They’ve Discovered Faith 

“We’ve seen an increase in inquiries about the Bible and inspirational quotes from people in their 30s-40s, especially during the pandemic,” says Diandra Jacinto, content SEO specialist for For Smith, she found that a relationship with God was missing. “My life has changed completely, drastically in a positive way since joining the Church, and it is having a purpose. You get up in the morning, you get up for your kids, but I also now get up for me … for my Church. You can gain confidence, you can help people. I love helping people. And it is just an amazing experience.” 

They’ve Decided to Put Their Family First

According to Pew Research, millennial dads spend three times more time with their kids than previous generations. And thanks to remote work and flexible schedules, they’ve mastered the art of working smarter, not harder. “It’s hard to measure in hours how much more time I’m able to spend with my kids. However, I’m able to do more now with my children, such as taking them to their after-school activities or even doing family trips without the stress of thinking I have to be somewhere else. Quality of life has improved because of the freedom we have …” — Jonathan-Paul Sanchez, Entrepreneur According to LendingTree, millennials often juggle more than one gig, with 50% claiming a second income stream. Though many families have two working parents (sometimes with multiple side hustles), Kathleen Gerson, a sociology professor at New York University, says they spend more time with their children than parents did in the 1950s. “I became a realtor and small business owner at 37. Sometimes my daughter asks what job I’m doing today. God directed this path so perfectly that I could be physically there for my children. I also have the freedom of time, which is more valuable than money.” — Macy Padilla

They’ve Made New Friends

Many midlifers’ friend circle gets smaller with time. It’s understandable — life gets busy, friends move away, and some experience loss. Making new friends isn’t always easy, and some choose pet adoption to achieve connection.  According to Forbes, pet ownership is increasing among young generations, with millennials having the highest share of pet owners.  Despite her continued interest, Ren delayed her pet adoption. But as soon as she turned 40, something in her switched. She decided to join Love and Second Chances, a community that rescues dogs from euthanasia. “Fostering dogs has given me an opportunity to experience the joys of having a dog while knowing that I am helping an organization rescue dogs who either were abandoned, abused, or homeless. And it’s such a blast!” says Ren Benedicto.  Pet ownership can elevate serotonin and dopamine levels, reducing stress and anxiety. Outdoor time with pets promotes exercise and can help improve pet parents’ cardiovascular health. So, even though the midlife crisis has come earlier than expected and roughly 40 percent of millennials say they are stressed all or most of the time, according to Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey report, they’re proving they can handle it, navigating through it and taking the opportunity to turn midlife into best life.