I’m starting to think that the defining characteristic of our generation is stress. I know that generalizations like that always sound completely cliché, but I’m pretty serious about this one. Although I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities that our continually progressive world offers, lately I’ve found myself thinking about how much easier it would have been to plan my life out half a century ago. Sure I probably wouldn’t have liked my limited job prospects, but at least I wouldn’t have had to worry so much about what I would be doing with my life. Granted, I’m one of those people who can stress out over pretty much anything, but there are a few major points right now that are assailing my nerves. The main issue seems to be The Future (meaning pretty much everything from tomorrow until I’m settled in a glamorous and high-paying job).
I have to admit that for someone so worried about what to do with the rest of her life, I probably should have thought about The Future a little more when choosing my academic path. Roughly 85 percent of the time people find out what my majors are, they ask me what I’m going to do with a degree in English and Sociology. Several of my friends from home can’t understand why my parents are willing to pay $52,000 a year so that I can graduate without any marketable skills. These delightful votes of confidence do nothing to soothe my fears about entering the real world without any definite plans. “But I go to a great liberal arts school that lands people in fantastic jobs!” I tell them, even as I worry that these future engineers will be laughing at me when they graduate with guaranteed careers and I graduate with no idea what I want to do with my life. And I’m still two and a half years away from that graduation day!
Two and a half years until graduation, which means I’m just a sophomore. But somehow telling myself that doesn’t make it an easier. Probably because my class year is yet another thing to stress over! I’ve been told by several upperclassmen that sophomore year is the best year: you’re settled into friend groups unlike Freshman year, but all your friends are here which is nice because Junior year everyone’s abroad and all over the place, and Senior year all those people are back from abroad but freaking out about getting jobs and having existential crises about growing up. So now I get to stress about how much fun I’m having this year. I better enjoy it now because next year who knows what semester I’ll be here (and will my besties be here too or will I be stranded and as friendless as I was on Freshmen move-in day?!) and after that I might as well plan on spending all my time in career services and the library. And then of course, my social life will be out the window.
Lest you think that this obsessive worry about the future is something that only I experience, I can guarantee that at least two of my (and your) classmates share my stress: my roommates. (Note: I think it’s likely that more of you are equally stressed, I just haven’t asked you about it. If you are, e-mail me; we’ll commiserate.) Since this means at least three people (and I suspect many more) on our campus are suffering from this severe anxiety, I feel confident in declaring this an epidemic. Though you might think this fun-killing disease is the kind that lurks beneath the surface, invisible to the naked eye, you are so wrong. You can see it in the unkempt wardrobe of the normally pristine girl sitting in front of you, the unnatural furrow of the brow on the frat boy in the second row and when you look in the mirror upon your own face, the worst sign of all: stress zits. Look around, the anxiety zombies are everywhere. We are officially experiencing a quarter-life crisis.
It’s actually more of a mid-college crisis. For those unfamiliar with the mid-college crisis, it varies slightly from its older brother the mid-life crisis. I’m not planning on buying a sports car that might as well come with a license plate reading “COMPENSATING FOR SOMETHING” in bold letters or trying to date babes half my age. Instead I’m taking a much more mature route. I plan on dealing with all this stress by watching every episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia I can find online instead of doing my reading and taking advantage of every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. I highly recommend that you join me. Though our grades may suffer, our spirits and blood pressure will improve markedly and everyone knows that a happy, healthy young twenty-something makes the best employee.
Ok, that may not be the best advice. Do some work this semester but please don’t overdo it. I give you (and myself) permission to stress every once in a while and maybe even to have a tiny breakdown at some point in the semester. And to help you maintain some level of sanity during these cold, Hamilton winter months, I leave you with a very cheerful thought: only thirteen weeks until Spring Party Weekend.