Today, I am feeling quite pessimistic, so let the pessimistic post commence! (I should hope that the post becomes more optimistic soon, though.)
A existential crisis cannot be overlooked. In fact, it is inevitable. If you have never experienced an existential crisis, DON’T WORRY- it WILL happen! Whether your crisis is about growing up, college in general, new responsibilities or your new sneakers that actually look really bad on you, the existential crisis amplifies our conscious day-to-day worries, alarming you suddenly with its presence. You may find yourself thinking (or shouting) “WHO AM I? WHY AM I HERE? CAN I ADEQUATELY TAKE CARE OF MYSELF? IS MY MAJOR RIGHT FOR ME? AM I ON THE PATH TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS? IS THIS TRULY WHAT I LIKE? IS THIS TRULY ME? WHY ARE MY GOALS UNATTAINABLE? WHEN WILL I FIND THE ONE?! DO I WANT KIDS? YES I DO BUT WILL I BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF THEM WELL? I CANT EVEN KEEP A HOUSE PLANT ALIVE! WHY AM I THINKING ABOUT KIDS? WOW I HAVE FOCUSED ON GROWING UP MYSELF THAT I FORGOT MY PARENTS ARE OLD TOO! WOW, I WAS A BAD TEENAGER! THIS HOMEWORK IS TOO HARD AND IS STAINED WITH MY TEARS AND CRUMBS FROM THIS UNHEALTHY MICROWAVEABLE MEAL! AM I A BAD PERSON? WHAT ARE MY BELIEFS AND MORALS? THE THOUGHT OF BEING 80 YEARS OLD AND HAVING REGRETS TERRIFIES ME! I NEED TO FINISH THE GOSSIP GIRL SERIES AND I AM ONLY ON SEASON 3! PRIORITIES?!?” You get the picture, also, that is my mind always.
Your existential crisis is currently looming overhead, plotting your demise, and it is about to drown you in uncertainty and a feeling of losing control over every aspect of your life. It does not only happen to college students, but most individuals around the ages of 20-25. Being a bearer of bad news, I am also alerting you now that you will most likely experience another existential crisis when you are mid age! The difference is, is that the mid life crisis usually ends with a new car quitting your job or shaving your hair off, while the college crisis ends with tears being shed over your instant oatmeal, and a phone call to your mom, who is thinking, “Why is my 20 year old child in higher education calling me? Fix it yourself!” so, you make more instant oatmeal to comfort the void of parental disdain. You may even chop all of your hair off as well, and lay on the ground with your new haircut that you regret, vowing to stay locked away until it all grows back.
Broadly speaking, the college existential crisis is your quarter life crisis. Yes, that is what we will lovingly refer to it as! Only the strongest will survive it!
TRICKS OF THE TRADE: SURVIVING THE COLLEGE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS
1) Though I am in college, and I am very grateful for it, I will say this. If you are in college, and have yet to come to terms with the fact that it isn’t for you, don’t waste your (parents’) money or your time. If you honestly feel that you should be off doing something much better suited for you in your life, do it. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.
2) If you are deciding to stick with it and stay in school (also very wise) stick through it until the very end. You’ll have days where you never see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you’ll have that inkling of motivation still in you to help you pull though and conquer!
3) Understand that everyone is on their own path in life, and if you constantly compare yourself with others, you won’t be happy with what you have now.
4) It is normal to change your major many times, a few times, or not at all. You don’t need to know exactly who you are right in this moment, or even 5 years from now. Take action now (and experiment) so that you’ll thank yourself in the future. Don’t put off those things the voice in the back of your head urges you to do.
5) If you are having a meltdown, talk to someone who you can be honest with and whose advice you respect. Sitting and dwelling in your own thoughts is not good, you need a voice of reason and hope.
6) Going along with #5, don’t isolate yourself when you need guidance. Get out, take a walk, hit the gym, take a shower, or be in the company of friends. If your crisis is occurring late at night, either a) sleep if you can, and then you’ll wake up refreshed or b) if you can’t sleep, read a book to distract yourself, or write down all your current problems down. Sometimes writing your problems down either by journaling or in a list helps you visualize exactly what you need to do to fix it, or where to begin.
7) Acknowledge that the crisis is common. And that you will grow from it. As humans, we often feel stuck, either by our problems in our mind or by our environment. Everyone goes through this at some point, and everyone experiences it to some degree. Often times knowing that you aren’t the only one with problems really helps rationalize your problems. But remember, everyone’s problems and crises are different.
8) If someone else approached you with the same problem, how would you give them advice? Sometimes you need a dose of your own medicine to help you realize what you need to do.
9) In life, you may feel like you have the most control when you are at peace. Therefore, whatever situation you find yourself in, don’t cause harm by blaming yourself or others, and try to be at peace with the curve balls life throws at you, and try to do what makes you happy.
10) Focus on being busy and on mundane details. You may find yourself staring at a package of gluten free hamburger buns in the grocery store wondering about the calorie count, and that distraction does take away from thinking about the well being of the universe. If you’re busy, you may find purpose in whatever you are busy with. Don’t just sit around.
Lastly, don’t get caught up in “Who am I?” thoughts. Remember that you don’t have to know who you are right now. You are “busy becoming who you are” if that makes sense. Embrace that. Eventually, you will find out, but all it its own time. You’re fine.