Kristine Perez | Staff Writer
Considering how long an average lifespan is, people are generally faced with making what is a life determining decision pretty early on. Before having the chance to move out and embrace what life really is, we must decide what, and who, we want to be in our lifetime. As if graduating and applying to college is not stressful enough, we pressure ourselves into declaring a life plan…and a major. The final decision is usually a product of “What job will make me financially stable?”, “What do my parents want me to do?”, and “What will actually make me happy?”
The pathway that is chosen is seldom the answer to “What will actually make me happy?” Facing reality, students will feel naive picking the life path that makes them happy because society has proved that it is either illogical, unreasonable, or the best excuse, does not pay enough.
Cue the quarter-life crisis. A time towards the end of your college years when you realize all the stress, money, time, and effort you have put into a major is for something that makes you tired and annoyed, and frankly, for something you plain out do not enjoy. If you do not love it during the “best four years of your life” then how can you expect to like it once you join the workforce? Speaking from personal experience, as I endure the fourth and final year of my undergraduate education, this quarter-life crisis is real.
I am no motivational speaker or all-knowing college student. I am simply someone who has learned to turn the distressing moments in her life into an opportunity to find what I want to do, where I want to be, and who I want to become. The only advice I can offer at this point is what I have learned in my short 21 years: make sure you are pursuing what makes you happy before you wake up one day to a mid-life crisis and realize you are not where you want to be. Do not allow the implications of society to lead you to believe you are pressed for time to accomplish what you want. After all, our 30’s are the new 20’s and graduating in five years is the new four years.
This may sound like another take on Buz Luhrmann’s interpretation of Mary Schmich’s essay on wearing sunscreen – but they had a point. (“Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen”) There is no rushing into deciding on a major and career and no one can make you feel guilty for that. As Schmich wrote, “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”
In my humble opinion, no one simply wakes up and knows what they want to do; no one listens to one motivational speech and suddenly has a moment of enlightenment. It takes enduring life moments we wish we did not have to live through and embracing the people we become because of those moments. Because happiness cannot be measured nor can the causes be scientifically proven, we are generally not likely to buy into someone else’s advice to achieving it. That does not mean, though, that we cannot work towards finding said happiness in aspects of both life and work.
We must realize how much power we have at this young age; there are so many opportunities when one is young and in college. What we find to be difficult and stressful right now will likely not be the real troubles we face later on in life. All we can do, as I have learned, is to keep striding forward and working toward what we want out of life – because you only get one.