In his three years of working life, Siddhanth Desai has had four career switches and almost double the number of job changes. In hindsight, the 26-year-old wonders if he focussed too much on his relationships. The pressure of expectations, coupled with his own disillusionment, is making him raise these existential questions.
Welcome to quarter life crisis.
Siddhanth, who ditched his "mundane" marketing profile to move to the more creative job of copywriting only to fall for the easy money lure of call centres and has now decided to join a production house, is not the only one.
You've bid adieu to the teenage years and it'll be another quarter of a century before you start experiencing the more talked about mid-life crisis. You've arrived in life and are raring to go. But there's constant self-doubt, loneliness, expectation, insecurity, anxiety about love, life, career and everything that lies in between.
The questions torment - where you stand in life, have you made the right career choice, how your life will unfold, will you do the same work all through life? - rattling your brain, making you toss and turn in the night.
"Quarter life crisis hits those in their early 20s to late 20s," Samir Parekh, chief of mental health department at Max Healthcare, told IANS.
Parekh describes it as a transition where your "needs and goals transit into something else".
"In school, your goal is to get high academic success and friends. Now, it's to establish yourself at work. This would also be a time when you'd start investing in a permanent relationship. The key challenge in this transition is establishing yourself for the future.
"You consolidate your friends, priorities change, there's more routine in life, you get into a work atmosphere... You might have done very well for yourself in college, but now you have to start again," says Parekh.
According to actress Pooja Bedi, who deals with much of this angst in an agony aunt column, it's the choices one has to make in this phase that leads to the crisis.
"There are a lot of pressures vis-a-vis career choices, the earning capacity, the life you live. Your choices depend on how you've been brought up and what matters to you at that point of time.
"You want to have the best of all worlds, you want to have a career, a car, a home, a girlfriend, parties... You're multi-tasking... Work by day, party by night."
For 24-year-old Ritika Suri of Ahmedabad, the one single thing missing from her career and love life alike is "stability". She has changed 15 jobs till date and lost track of the number of boyfriends.
After her tryst with law firms, call centres, education centres, research institutes and IT industry, she's currently trying her luck in the hospitality industry.
"When I go for an interview, I don't show half my work experience. Even then people are left baffled. But what can I do? I haven't been able to find something that can sustain my interest for the rest of life."
Things are no different in her love life. "There's constant pressure to get married. I get so worried sometimes if I'll ever find a guy worth marrying."
However, 25-year-old Ankit Verma's dilemma lies in understanding what aspect of life is more important to him.
"I'm never satisfied. If I'm happy in a relationship, I tend to think I'm neglecting my career. If I focus too much on my professional life, I tend to feel the quality of life is going down," Ankit told IANS.
Ankit recently left a high-paying corporate job and a steady love life in Delhi and moved to Mumbai to realise his dreams of becoming an actor.
"Sometimes seeing your peers earning well makes you feel insecure. You tend to think of all the choices you had or still have."
According to Bedi: "The crisis lies in early burnout. Having given so much attention to career, your personal life gets neglected. The crisis lies in stress, given today's lifestyle, eating out, working till late..."
(Mohita Nagpal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)