How to Work Through a Quarter-Life Crisis by Vicki Stanley
Post date: Feb 7, 2018 9:26:59 PM
It’s that time of year again. We are all dreading it. No, not the 8-12 page essays, the myriad of homework assignments, or hours-worth of readings, but the questions: ● What is your major?
● When are you graduating?
● What do you plan on doing with your degree?
● Can you really get a job with that degree?
● Do you plan on going to graduate school? When, where and why?
● Have you submitted any applications yet?
● What do you want to do with your life?
These questions haunt us throughout our lives, but college is a place where they are particularly prevalent and can lead to a lot of stress and even breakdowns. As an undergraduate in her senior year, I’ve heard it all before, yet the more frequently I hear these questions, the more stressed out I feel. Even though I have a general plan for what I want to do with my life and future degree, I don’t have everything figured out. It’s taken me several years to get to where I am, but I’m starting to realize that not being set-in-stone certain about what I’m doing with my life is okay. I’ve spent my junior year of high school up to this point feeling panicked, anxious, and sometimes inadequate when comparing myself to my friends, family, peers, colleagues, and professors.
After watching those around me work toward their dreams and seem to have it all figured out, I asked them for advice. I was so perplexed and intimidated that they had their lives together and I didn’t, so I wanted to know what I was doing wrong. As I talked to them about my worries over the years, I heard a few phrases time and time again:
● It’s okay to not have your life figured out at -insert age here-
● It’s unrealistic to have your life figured out in your early twenties
● I didn’t even think about half of those things when I was your age
● Don’t stress yourself out too much, you have a lot of time to figure everything out
● You’ll get there
Of course, hearing these things at first does not feel helpful at all, especially since I feel like I’ve been having a quarter-life crisis (although I prefer calling it a fifth-life crisis) since I was seventeen. The more time I took to think about it, the more that I realized in a lot of ways that they were right. It’s unrealistic to expect people in high school or their undergrad to have their entire life figured out. I’m sure graduate students don’t have their entire life figured out either. The point is, it takes time to discover who you are and what your interests, passions, and goals are.
That being said, don’t default to binging Netflix or doing anything you can to avoid figuring out what you want to do with your life just because it is overwhelming. Thinking about your goals and future is terrifying, and that’s okay. Even if it scares you, it is important to push yourself to find out what you want to do and to actually work towards that goal. Don’t forget that you aren’t alone in this process; there are people and resources that can help you along the way. Here’s a list of some resources and activities you can try to help you focus and work toward your goals:
● Visit the UNLV Writing Center, Academic Success Center, Career Services, and Academic Advising for a variety of services to help you develop skills, plan for success in and after college, and find opportunities for a future career
● Go for a walk, visit a park, take a hike, or any activity that will allow you to take time away from electronics and other distractions so you can focus and think about your life, goals, and things that are important to you. (It also helps reduce stress!)
● Ask others for advice: your friends, family, peers, colleagues, and professors (don’t be afraid to talk to them) can offer tips, support, and opportunities that will help you grow and figure out what your passions are
● Write a list of goals—small and large—that you want to accomplish, adding the appropriate date, month, or year that you want to complete them in and cross them off as you go down the list. These goals could be a combination of academic, career, and general life goals that you want to accomplish. If you feel like it, consider doing this with a friend
● Be active in your own life. Don’t wait for the stars to align to apply for that research lab, job, internship, or conference. Just go for it, even if it scares you
These are just some of the things you can do to work toward your goals and figure out your life, so don’t be afraid to try other things that might help you find your focus. Most importantly, remember that you don’t need to have your life figured out right now. Take steps toward living the life you want to live, toward finding your passion, and as time goes on and you accumulate experiences, you’ll get there.