The Quarter-Life Crisis: Doubts Brought On By College

The Quarter-Life Crisis: Doubts Brought On By College

Are you feeling overwhelmed by college and expectations and the uncertainty of the future?

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At 11:22 p.m., my best friend texted me, "I think I just had a quarter-life crisis."

She had come to the realization that she's turning twenty next year. We both are. We still have to turn nineteen this year, but the number twenty has a certain terrifying ring to it.

"I've been questioning the last year of my life all night tonight," she continued.

So, naturally, I started questioning my own. I started thinking about all of the things that I haven't done yet. I haven't traveled the world. I haven't gotten engaged. I haven't landed my dream job or sculpted my ideal body or built my fantasy lifestyle. I'm still tired, I'm still unhappy, I'm still lonely. I'm eighteen years old -- I'm turning twenty next year -- and I have no idea where I'm going. So, I understood how my friend was feeling.

I tried to validate the last year of my life, thinking of all of the good things that happened, practicing gratitude. I dug out my bright yellow bucket list from the bottom of my desk. I counted the checkboxes I've filled.

Move to college. Check.

Sell my art. Check.

Get a new job. Check.

Write for a publication. Check.

Fall in love. Scratched out. (You can't put love on a to-do list.)

Choose a college major. Check.

Why doesn't it feel like enough? I'm writing this article from my college dorm, six stories above the Florida State University campus, watching my coffee swirl and my string lights sparkle. From where I'm sitting, I can see so many happy little things -- a letter from my family, the sketchbook I've been filling, and a ticket to the concert I'm going to next month. Someday, these things will all be gone. I should appreciate this life now. But why doesn't it feel like enough?

Though overwhelming, this feeling is not unusual. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, in a video for PragerU, described experiencing her own quarter-life crisis as a young professional. "A lot was going my way -- at least, on the surface," she said. "So, why didn't I feel great about my life? I was working as a press secretary for a congressman. I should have been happy about that. But, instead, I just felt trapped, anxious, and uncertain about my future."

"On the personal side, things weren't much better," she continued. "I hadn't had a boyfriend in years, and there were no prospects on the horizon. Marriage seemed like an impossible dream. I loved my friends, but I still felt lonely."

Perino described strategies that she used to work through her own quarter-life crisis. She recommended moving -- whether to a new city or a new school or a new job. Rather than confining yourself to one place, move and explore and chase opportunities while you still can.

Then, she recommended taking inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Determine how you can use them to build the life that you desire, set goals, and, finally, take steps towards achieving them. "When you set goals and work toward them, positive things happen," Perino said. It might not be the things that you expect. It might not be the life that you envisioned. And that's okay. "You gain skills," she continued, "and those skills will create opportunities that never would've existed if you weren't working toward something."

Before I turned eighteen, I set big, bold, daunting goals -- they're the best kind -- determined to shatter my comfort zone and grow into an entirely new person. And, to an extent, I did. I grew in many ways and accomplished many of my goals. But it wasn't enough. It didn't magically fix everything. Turning eighteen, I had visions of becoming happy. I thought that checking off my goals one by one would increase my happiness step by step, and it didn't. My own expectations of my life held me back from appreciating the good things that were actually happening as I worked towards my goals. My quarter-life crisis came from examining the contrast between my real life and the idealized life that I envisioned.

"All These Things That I Have Done" by The Killers is one of my all-time favorite songs because of one main line, "You're gonna bring yourself down."

It's true. I am going to bring myself down. My eighteen-year-old uncertainty is going to bring me down. My life is unfolding right in front of me, and my idealized vision of it will stop me from running full-force in the real direction that it's taking.

Maybe you're having your own quarter-life crisis. Maybe you don't know where you're going anymore, or maybe your life doesn't look the way you envisioned. These feelings will try to hold you back. They will try to consume you, and they will try to stop you from pursuing the opportunities right in front of you. Don't let them.

Keep working hard with pure intentions and patience, and life will eventually align. After all, there seems to be only one true cure for a quarter-life crisis: time.

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10 Ways College Is 100% NOTHING Like High School

Once-a-day showers go to dry shampoo for four days straight.

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As a college freshman well into their second semester, it has officially occurred to me just how different, and often times better, college is compared to its predecessor, high school.

Here are just 10 ways the two could not be MORE different:

1. How you sleep

You'll go from waking up three hours before school to three minutes before class

2. How you hygiene

Once-a-day showers develop into dry shampoo for four days straight.

3. How you eat

Pizza goes from a once-in-a-while treat to an everyday food group.

4. How you socialize

You'll go from being nice to everyone to disliking people for no reason.

5. How much effort you put into your appearance

High school contour was on fleek and now there's somehow mascara on your forehead.

6. How you nap

Naps go from two hours to 10 minutes.

7. How you operate heavy machinery

Driving goes from 10 and 2 with perfectly lined up mirrors to driving with your knees and eating a taco.

8. Your classmates

High school classes are with all of your friends and college classes have strangers in them almost every day.

9. The people teaching you things

High school teachers are scary and mean, while college professors become your friends.

10. Textbooks

High school textbooks are provided where college textbooks need to be bought with another student loan.

Cover Image Credit: Instargram//Madsbythesea

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I'm About To Burst, Laughing At The People Who Thought My Pregnancy Meant I Had To Drop Out Of College

I get stared at in the halls and asked if I am going to drop out. Here are ways being a pregnant student has changed my college experience.

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I have been pregnant the entire time that I have been in graduate school. It was not how I planned to experience grad school, but it has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective and will give me a lovely son (seriously, any second now). There are certain things that I did not realize about being a pregnant student until I experienced it, and maybe my experiences can help better prepare other women, or give them something to relate to since pregnant students are such a rare breed.

As a grad student and a 25-year-old, I am around the average age to have my first child in America. I am not dependent on my parents and the world does not treat me like a child anymore.

However, since I decided to pursue my master's degree, I feel that people are not used to seeing pregnant and student in the same sentence without gasping.

When I first told my father, his first reaction was to ask me if I was to going to drop out.

This became a recurrent reaction from my family and friends (which my boyfriend who is also a student was never asked once). I did not expect the hesitant reactions and it made me feel shameful to be a pregnant student. As my expecting belly grew I always noticed that people on campus would stare at my stomach.

As I walked past, their eyes followed my belly like I had a giant red felt "A" on my chest.

None of my classmates are pregnant and thinking back, I can't remember ever seeing a pregnant woman in all of my five years of college. Since none of my classmates were pregnant, I felt like I had no one to relate to. There are a lot of things that pregnancy effects, besides the baby in the tummy part. I could not go out and get drinks with my classmates and bond with them the way that they were all doing. I could not relate to them fashionably because maternity clothes are heinous. I also feel like pregnancy put up a barrier because I would have a baby eventually and will always be busy, so why bother?

Pregnancy side effects would sometimes take a toll on my school work. In the first trimester, I could barely get out of bed because I was so tired. I could easily have slept 14 hours straight and being a working student did not help. I would seep through some of my classes and had to take the hit to my attendance points. I also have "pregnancy brain." Pregnancy brain is a real thing and is not well known enough. My mind can be so scattered that I forget my friend's names while I am speaking to them. I think it is October when it is March. Pregnancy brain has made me forget that I even go to school or that I work in twenty minutes. I missed due dates or completely misread instructions on assignments. For someone who needs A's on every assignment to function, it hurt because I would never make that mistake otherwise.

There are also benefits to being a pregnant student. I am never hungover and I have never been tempted to ditch a night class for a drinking holiday.

Pregnancy has allowed me to prioritize my school work and ignore the college lifestyle.

Before I knew I was pregnant, I went with my roommates to bars in Chicago's Lincoln Park. I feel so happy knowing getting wasted from $3 shots on a Wednesday is behind me. I now truly have nothing better to do at night than complete my homework.

Another benefit is that you sometimes get special treatment. The special treatment that pregnant women get is awesome. It is my favorite part and sometimes makes me wish I could be pregnant forever. People feel obligated to wait on me hand and foot. If I drop something, people rush to pick it up. It is completely not necessary but I get to feel like a princess for a day (or 280 days). Even though I was singled out for being the only pregnant woman, I was always treated especially nicely by students and professors.

Regardless of my friends and family expecting me to drop out, I am doing phenomenal in grad school. I have received A's in every class and have loved all of my classes. Being a pregnant student can be tough, but it is totally doable. If you find yourself to be a pregnant student, don't feel discouraged. It is not ruining your college experience but allowing you to do college differently.

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