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How twentysomethings can manage a quarter-life crisis

“I’m stuck,” “What’s wrong with me?” and “Is this all there is?” These are common refrains that Satya Doyle Byock, a Portland-based psychotherapist, hears from the twenty-somethings who wind up in her office.

While no secret is made of the discomfort of puberty and adolescence, there is less attention paid to the discomfort of teetering in between youth and adulthood. Personal development occurs in adulthood, too, but is rarely talked about.

Byock wants to change that. She thinks society largely ignores these struggles — leaving young people feeling alone, isolated and misunderstood. But she hears them.

In her book “Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood,” Byock, who is the director of The Salome Institute of Jungian Studies in Portland, Oregon, explores the trials and tribulations of a cohort she calls “quarterlifers,” defined as young people aged 16 to 36.

Author Satya Doyle Byock
Author Satya Doyle Byock
Summer Luu
Quarter Life: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood by Satya Doyle Byock
Byock hopes her book will help young people place themselves along the “stability-meaning spectrum.”

In her psychotherapy practice she’s defined two subgroups. First are the “stability types” who went through the classic achievement loops of life (good grades, good universities, etc.), hitting all the benchmarks. But they don’t know where to go from there. 

The second are the “meaning types” who have bucked the status quo and paved their own path through life so far — but they feel adrift in the world around them. Byock hopes her book will help young people place themselves along the “stability-meaning spectrum” — and learn how to maximize their quarterlife years depending on where they fall.

Byock mixes wisdom from pop culture, mythology, the work of Carl Jung, and real stories from clients to teach struggling quarterlifers the four pillars for personal growth in the messy chapter of quarter life: Separate, listen, build and integrate.

With all the chaos and disorientation of the post-pandemic era, young adults seeking some comfort and guidance as they trudge a path forward would do well to pick up this book.

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