The quarter-life crisis: enjoy college while you can

By Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

Three days ago my roommate was curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and said to me quietly, “I don’t have anything to look forward to anymore.” Nothing drastic had changed to inspire this feeling and no boy had stomped on her feelings. This sentiment was inspired by a deeper, more universal feeling that typically hits hard at exactly this time of life. In that one quiet comment my roommate had expressed her quarter-life crisis. My mind spiraled as I tried to help her through it and prepare myself for when I have my own moment of cosmic insecurity.

Without fail, when my roommate comes home from work in the evenings, she pauses to ask how my day was. I tell her, usually outlining several entertaining events or venting about something or other. When the question is turned on her, however, her response is almost always said with a sigh. She says, “It was fine,” or, “Nothing to complain about I guess.” The truth about my roommate is that she is a brilliant violinist filled with kindness, intelligence and creativity who has just finished her master’s degree in music performance. Ahead of her lies years of being celebrated for and paid for doing the thing she loves on a medium that has no function other than to ease the pain of being human.

My roommate’s problem is this–– the future stretches before her like a void of black question marks. Where will she live? Will she build a life with someone? How will she use her degree and talent to succeed in the cutthroat world of music performance? These questions have all been there, but 25 years of life in academia have provided her with no opportunity to ask those questions with a sense of reality and on their own.

Constant accountability and guidance create an environment for learning that is accelerated and productive. The problem is that it just isn’t real. My roommate comes home from what could be an incredibly fulfilling job teaching children all of the things that can be learned from the violin: discipline, focus, self-control, appreciation for beauty and feeling. But she comes home entirely unable to see the application of those things to real life questions. Her place in life is one where bad change can be permanently damaging and good change has to be consciously sought out.

As I watch her struggle from my safe place inside the semester calendar, I am apprehensive that come May I will have to fight the same battle. I look at potentially 40 years in the work force with no summer breaks, class changes or weekly football games. I won’t get to escape to the beach with friends or rest from all responsibility at my parent’s house. I will have to build my own entertainment and find my own way to eagerly look at my near future and the little triumphs it will contain. I will question everything about myself and as I age, the minutia of effect my daily actions have on the world’s story will be questioned every day.

We have it good here, friends, so enjoy it while you can.

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