Psychotherapist Satya Doyle Byock discussed her book “Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood” and its framework for understanding the psychology of young adults with students on Wednesday October 4 in the Shannon Room.
Byock spoke about her work in understanding how the psyche develops, struggles and thrives during a person’s “quarterlife,” which encompasses young adulthood from adolescence through age thirty. She elaborated on how her book depicts ways in which young adults can learn to navigate the time of self discovery and exploration inherent to the quarterlife.
Byock emphasized the importance of understanding the psychology behind what happens during this important transitional phase of life. She referenced her own experience searching for meaning in her college education without any structure or prior knowledge on how to handle such emotional and mental turbulence.
“It was a moment of very extreme crisis, which is how the book kicks off trying to understand what this time of life means,” Byock said. “How am I being prepared for the world as a 20- something-[year-old]? I don’t think those questions have been answered all that much since I was in school.”
In an effort to facilitate conversation, Byock connected student attendee questions and perspectives to the content of her book. She explained how college can impact one’s life as a whole and how young adults’ perspectives change as personal growth and self-awareness enhance their thinking. She also discussed the importance of developing social skills, seeking stability in careers and finding purpose in life during the college to post-graduate transition.
Kate Nicholson, assistant director of student wellness programs and coordinator of wellness outreach, originally suggested bringing Byock to campus after a former colleague recommended “Quarterlife” to her. Nicholson described how Byock’s book resonated with her past experience as a quarterlifer, and she hoped that it would similarly speak to Bowdoin students.
“I hope students find themselves whether it’s through identifying with the archetypes that [Byock] will present, through her Jungian psycho-framework or through just certain struggles that haven’t maybe found a voice or a name yet,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson also noted a connection between Byock’s writing and wellness, explaining that wellness goes beyond just physical health or stress management skills to what she calls “radical well-being”—forming a deeper understanding of oneself in relation to the community.
“I think when we go back to the heart of our well-being, it’s really about cultivating a very solid sense of self, that you can continually trust as you embark on life after Bowdoin,” Nicholson said.
Students who attended the events received free copies of “Quarterlife” and enjoyed pizza and seltzer. Attendee Julie Janssen ’26 appreciated the interactive and conversational environment Byock’s talk fostered.
“I thought it was really fun because it was really engaging,” Janssen said. “It was very much just based on what the audience had to ask, and I think it was very relevant for everyone.”