If you are anything like me, a 20-year-old who is trying to get an education while trying to live a balanced life, you are familiar with the struggle. As a generation, entering college and the process of getting though it, are the most stressful and pressuring times of your life. A million questions run through your head. Such things are “What do I want to do with my life?" "What’s a good college?" "Should I work while going to school?" "Where should I work to make money during college?”
At 18 years old, I didn’t even know the correct way to clean my crotch let alone plan my entire future in full detail. OK, maybe I did know how to clean myself, but you get the gist. So you see, my never-ending question, while going through this time of loathing and self-hate, is "Why?" Why are we pushed into making such a giant decision at such a young age? Why do we have to carry all of this stress each and every day?
As much as the older populations likes to believe we don’t care about where our future takes us, we actually take college pretty seriously. I know many people my age who make themselves sick over grades and the amount of material we get in one sitting. We have to live every second of our lives pushing to make the right choices, studying everything we think will be on the test and making sure we have a grasp of what’s going on so we can get the job at the end of our journeys.
College isn’t our only worry. We also have anxiety over maintaining relationships with our families, friends and significant others. All the while, we need to maintain a relationship with ourselves. Work is an additional annoyance on top of our black abyss of a life. If you are like me, it isn’t your favorite “to do,” however food, retail shopping, and occasionally alcohol are the only coping methods we have. These things all require money. Therefore, unless you want to work the pole every weekend, we know how important it is to maintain a part-time position somewhere.
Not only does the stress upon ourselves exist, our parents and grandparents pressure us more than we could ever pressure ourselves. To them, we need to have it all planned out because it defines our self-worth. We have no time to waste and we need to get it right the first try. If not, we are wasting money. They don’t want us to work, yet they don’t understand our need to eat 24/7 and the amount of money we need to feed our fat selves. It isn’t called the freshman 15 for no reason. They want us to be at family events, but have no idea the amount of time we actually need to study or sleep to be functional.
Society, along with our families, requires us to have a blue print of our lives for the next five years. Back in the day, you didn’t have to attend a four-year college to get a half decent job and make ends meet. Life was a bit simpler. Now, a four-year college is a must. You need to have a high-school diploma and be in a graduate program to make money for not only yourself, but the family you are about to have in about three years and 32 days. Society plans norms for us and we are expected to make them a reality.
The point of this article is to first let you know you aren’t alone. When you get the urge to pull out your hair and smash into the giant pole on your way home, just breathe. We are all struggling. Second, to those who don’t have a plan by 18, relax. Your time will come. I am not saying to waste your life away and make bad decisions, but just go with the flow for a little bit. Lastly, let the pressure roll off your shoulders, do the best that you can and believe in yourself. Before you know it you will have the job, the life you want and the opportunity to sit with light weight shoulders and say “I made it.”