A few days ago I went to UNC. Cue the booing, hissing and newfound passion for football. I’ve never actually had anything against Chapel Hill. I think baby blue is a perfectly palatable color, I don’t really understand the point of college rivalries, and I have a strange love for all things sheep-related. So, perhaps because I am disloyal and un-American, I went to an info session for UNC’s public health graduate school. A panic attack and a change of pants later, I came to a gut-wrenching realization: I am having a quarter-life crisis.
So what is the quarter-life crisis? It’s best explained as exiting teenager-dom and crossing into a magical land where you have to know what you’re doing with your life. This leads to the terrifying realization that YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING WITH YOUR LIFE. It’s an alarming hyper-awareness that we are getting older, approaching a time when we have to make real, impactful decisions. Usually, as a coping mechanism, this causes people to scramble for some tangible change to show that they’ve grownup. A new relationship, a breakup, a sudden interest in extracurriculars (I f***ing LOVE leadership!), getting a job, converting to Buddhism, tattooing a pterodactyl across your back … what have you. Whatever your big change is, it’s a sure sign that you’re in your quarter-life crisis.
For whatever reason, I thought I was immune from the typical challenges of a recent 20-something. I think it’s because I expect to never grow up. I take pride in being a small child in every way except size and age—although with nicknames such as “Dwarf,” “Hobbit” and “Stubby,” age may be the only feature distinguishing me from a 5-year-old. Half of the things that come out of my mouth are “Spongebob” quotes, I non-ironically call every animal “kitty,” and I have a turtle-shell backpack. A TURTLE-SHELL BACKPACK I SAY. Do I sound like a mature human being who has her life together, or a preschooler tryna harness some TURTLEPOWER?
However, recent events have shot me into pure, unadulterated quarter-life crisis mode. For example, the fact that bookbagging is happening right now cannot be real life. It’s not only a plague on all productivity that I hoped to have this week, but it’s also a constant reminder that I am almost done with college. Bookbagging is a grotsky little bee-yotch, making me realize that I’m now an old hag who should start crocheting and choosing my favorite flavor of mothball. How is someone my age supposed to understand ACES? My brain has crystallized by this point and I can take in no further information, like how to navigate new class numbers. More importantly, I CANNOT FIND THE BACK BUTTON. I have been stuck on the same page for 20 minutes, afraid that if I hit anything I’ll accidentally withdraw myself from all of my classes. How am I expected to have time to figure this out when it’s bingo night at the YMCA?!
My social life isn’t exempt from my quarter-life crisis. Like some of my fellow elderly people, my life has been marked by sheer social ineptitude. I jumped past “crazy cat lady” and went straight to “crazy cat,” which I accomplish by meowing and purring regularly. At the UNC game I dressed in Tailgate gear, only to discover that spandex superhero is NOT the look the cool kids are going for these days. And, to top it all off, I have become one of THOSE people who sends unwanted SnapChats to everyone they know whenever they get bored studying or order food that looks Instagram-able or just feel like demanding the attention of all their friends for three to 10 seconds.
And now that I’m an upperclassman, I’m expected to have some grasp on what I want to do with my life. But after looking into it, I think I’m more likely to spontaneously become a unicorn than I am to get into a post-grad program. Did you know you need three letters of recommendation? THREE?! After spending my first two years of college taking giant intro classes, I don’t think I remember three of my professors’ names. And even if they remember me, it’s likely not by my name but by some defining feature, like “Comically Unprepared Carmen” or “Didn’t Do the Reading Debbie” or “Obviously on Facebook Olivia.”
However, in the midst of my crisis, I realized something. I am still really young. Maybe in the Middle Ages turning 20 was cause for a freak-out, but these days it is barely the beginning. A quarter-life crisis is just a new way of taking yourself too seriously. Trying to have ourselves and our lives completely settled by the end of our teenage years or even the end of college only causes undue stress. So instead of dissolving into a quarter-life crisis, I’d rather embrace the uncertainty ahead—and my new old lady status. I hope some of y’all will join me—preferably in time to catch the Sunday buffet at the Golden Corral. See you there!
Lillie Reed is a Trinity junior. Her installation of the weekly Socialites column runs on alternate Wednesdays. You can follow Lillie on Twitter @LillieReed.