October 9 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 24   

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CAMPUS LIFE

Stalling on the road to the 'real' world

Contradiction
Shannon Proudfoot

Gazette Staff

I don't want to be in school anymore, but I'm not ready to get a real job either. I am torn between the things I left behind and the things I want but can't yet reach.

Basically, I am a recently graduated twentysomething who has more options than perspective.

This slightly-ahead-of-schedule, quarter-life crisis is not all negative, though. In fact, much of the stress is because life now presents more possibilities than ever before.

Suddenly, every grand plan that has ever been schemed over a pint can be acted upon. Going to Ireland to work in a filthy pub and pick up an accent is not out of the question. Attending clown college, becoming a professional gambler or starting an Internet pet cemetery are all possible, if risky.

This causes feelings not unlike those of a kid in a candy store. That is, an attention-deficit, hungry, fat kid in a candy store filled with magical candies (stay with me here -I promise this is going somewhere).

In short: you want to do it all, see it all and achieve it all. Right now. At least that is how I felt. The first step was starting another degree. Going back to school just made sense. It postponed the inevitable day when OSAP released the hounds, gave me more time to figure out what I wanted to do and it was still okay to drink at noon on weekdays.

I didn't anticipate the conflicting feelings that have developed.

I am tired of handing in irrelevant assignments on arbitrary due dates. I have outgrown Orientation Week (okay, that's a lie -I really missed O-Week) and there is no way I am going anywhere near a students' council this time around.

I keep thinking about the fact I am spending $5,000 a year on tuition to slowly learn in a classroom what I could pick up more quickly on the job or with an internship. But I can't get a job until I pay the tuition to get a practical degree and the great internship I have only makes school seem more redundant.

Yet if I were offered my dream job tomorrow, I would be reluctant to seize that opportunity. Achieving lasting success before I've had time to have some adventures and screw up a few times is as scary as never attaining it at all.

The instability of life at this stage is bizarrely liberating. No job, relationship or apartment is likely to be spectacular enough that it can't be left behind if plans suddenly change and whims must be pursued.

In the end, what really puts the quarterlife crisis in perspective is simply time. Not-yet-25 is way too young to worry about closing doors, getting jump-starts and making forever choices. We are in such a hurry to get there now, faster, first, that we don't realize we haven't even figured out where "there" is yet.

Even after graduation, I think we need to give ourselves permission to be young and foolish for at least a little while longer.

 

 

 

 

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