Quarter-life Crisis: When Life Is MORE STRESS THAN SUCCESS

Say what you want about Kylie Jenner, but the 21-year-old is making moves with her makeup ventures. If you feel as if your accomplishments pale in comparison, you aren’t alone…

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Say what you want about Kylie Jenner, but the 21-year-old is making moves with her makeup ventures. If you feel as if your accomplishments pale in comparison, you aren’t alone… 

However, celebrity success is one thing, but it’s even more difficult to deal if you’re the only one in your social circle who doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere in life, and feelings of jealousy, resentment and low self- esteem surface. Amber, Sharon, and Christine open up about what it’s like to feel like everyone other than you is killing the game of life and how you can combat those bad vibes. 

AMBER, 23 

“If I’m being completely honest, the first reaction I get when one of my friends gets a raise or promotion or any form of career advancement, is one of resentment. I don’t have any ill intent towards my friends, but each time something like that happens, I’m like, “Why not me?” 

You don’t know what it feels like to watch all your friends move up in life when you’re staying in the same place. I know I just graduated a year ago, but two of my closest friends that I graduated with are already working at Google and AirBnB! I’ve lost track of the number of openings that I’ve interviewed for; I’m still unemployed and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong – it’s really taking a toll on me. 

Two months ago, my mum made me go see a therapist because I was feeling really unmotivated and didn’t want to leave the house. The truth was I was scared to bump into anyone I knew outside because I knew job-hunting and my lack of a job would definitely come up in the conversation.” 


“I’m a graphic designer and all my friends are in finance; they’re all investment bankers making bank and I’m not making nearly as much as them. They can all afford to rent expensive apartments, but I still live with my parents. It feels like everyone in my social circle is moving out and up. 

I only recently saw things from a different perspective when I admitted to my friend that I was jealous that she could afford this YSL bag that I had been dreaming about. In the most cliché moment ever, she said she envied how I was doing what I actually loved to do rather than just working for money, which is what she’s doing. 

To be honest, it reassured me in the moment, but being at this income level is making me miss out on experiences with my friends, which never feels good. My plan is to find a job in a higher-paying industry and funnel my passion for graphic design into freelance work.” 


“I was actually the friend that my group envied. It’s a classic Instagram vs. reality situation – I live in Singapore and they live in Canada, so their perception of me is mainly what they see online. 

While I had a great job (just left it), I was super depressed and anxious all the time because of the extreme pressure I was feeling from work. I had to start taking antidepressants and seeing a psychologist [to cope]. 

I knew that people perceived my life to be a certain way and I wanted to keep up the illusion that I had my life together. I only came out to my friends about how upset I was after I had a breakdown while FaceTiming them. They were super surprised and said I was the one that all of them envied, which was crazy to me.” 


Just because someone has a great career doesn’t mean the rest of their life is perfect. Remember the bigger picture and that you don’t know what other people are going through – a glamorous Instagram post doesn’t sum up a person’s life. Psychologist Andrea Bonior advises people going through success jealousy to understand that the reaction is human, rather than feeling guilty about it. 

To keep things in perspective, consider this piece of advice from Amber’s therapist: there is no set definition of success, so don’t take someone else’s goals and apply them to yourself. 

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