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9 TED Talks to help you through your quarter-life crisis

Fadhila Hasna Athaya
Fadhila Hasna Athaya

Former content strategist. Her life principle is contagious enthusiasm.

Jakarta  /  Fri, January 19, 2018  /  01:27 pm
9 TED Talks to help you through your quarter-life crisis

We all have bad days, but if you're having too many in a row, you could be experiencing a "quarter-life crisis". The good news is, you're not alone. (Shutterstock/File)

If you've arrived here, you’re already one step closer to a solution. By acknowledging that something is bothering you, the faster you can head out toward solving it.

These past few weeks have been rough and filled with so-called deep contemplation, and I found it hard to fully acknowledge that I’m now responsible for my life choices.

A friend noticed something was wrong and shared a link to a TED Talk on “Quarter-Life Crisis”. So that’s what this feeling is all about! I’m not alone in this; other people my age are facing this, too.

One talk led to another, and here are several TED Talks that may, hopefully, help you through your own crisis.

1. Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

It’s OK to let people know that you’re vulnerable. Accepting who you really are will make you stronger and help you to be a better person.

Key message: “In our culture, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame and uncertainty. Yet, we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity and love.”

2. Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do

Try to understand the core needs that shape your behavior, such as certainty, significance, variety, love/connection, growth and contribution. That way, you will be able to take back control over your life and discover what really matters to help you find the path to lasting fulfilment.

Key message: “What is your motive for action? What is it that drives you in your life today? Not 10 years ago. Are you running the same pattern? Because I believe that the invisible force of internal drive, activated, is the most important thing.”

3. Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20 

"Overnight success" actually takes years. Often, a quarter-life crisis hits people who are feeling impatient about not living up to their potential, or that they are falling behind their friends. Well, life is not a race.

What matters is putting the time and effort into developing yourself toward the future you want, while simultaneously appreciating what you already have now.

Key message: “Thirty is not the new 20, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do. You're deciding your life right now.”

4. Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

Identify the excuses you make that won’t get you anywhere. After all, life is about picking the choices that matter to you.

Key message: “...'unless', that most evocative of all English words, 'unless'. But the word 'unless' is also attached to that other, most terrifying phrase, ‘If only I had … ‘. If you ever have that thought ricocheting in your brain, it will hurt a lot.”

5. Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky: Refusing to settle, the quarter-life crisis

You’re not the only one facing a quarter-life crisis. Discover how others have conquered theirs and have turned their life around to be more meaningful.

Key message: “... if you find believers now, if you stop comparing yourself to others now, and if you hustle to pursue what is meaningful to you now, you will change your life, you will change the lives of others, and you will change the world.”

6. Kio Stark: Why you should talk to strangers

Observe your surroundings and try to connect with strangers. Like magic, you’ll feel better and more grateful.

Key message: “Researchers have found that people often feel more comfortable being honest and open about their inner selves with strangers than they do with their friends and their families, that they often feel more understood by strangers.”

7. Kathryn Schulz: Don't regret regret

You may have taken the wrong path or had the worst day in your life. Instead of trying to erase the memories of your downs or live life without regret, try embracing your regrets instead.

Key message: “We need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect things that we create and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn't remind us that we did badly. It reminds us that we know we can do better.”

8. Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don’t have one true calling

You’re ready to move on and make meaningful progress. However, you’re confused about finding that  one thing you want to focus on for the rest of your life. The good news is, you might not have to pick just one: you might be a “multipotentialite”.

Key message: “In fact, some of the best teams are comprised of a specialist and a multipotentialite paired together. The specialist can dive in deep and implement ideas, while the multipotentialite brings a breadth of knowledge to the project. It's a beautiful partnership.”

9. Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up 

Feeling like you’re already late in making a significant change in your life? Well, listen to this story from Nyad, who accomplished her life's dream of becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64. Yes, you read it right: 64, not 24. It's never too late, and age is just a number.

Key message: “…the truth is, I’m walking around tall because I am that bold, fearless person, and I will be, every day until it’s time for these days to be done.” (dev/asw)


Fadhila Hasna Athaya graduated from the Bandung Institute of Technology and worked at KIBAR on her journey to figuring out her place in the universe. Read her thoughts at and see the Instagrammable moments she treasures at @dh25ila.

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