At this rate, a quarter-life crisis is imminent.

Super Duck's picture

February started off all wrong. One day about three weeks ago, Cute Blonde Girl and I went to a coffee place off campus, and everything was fine until I left. She stayed behind to catch up on a little bit of homework, but on my way back, I just... I don't know, I totally lost it. Out of nowhere. I don't even know where it came from, or what it was, but I just had this ridiculous freakout. Sobbing uncontrollably on the street and everything. It wasn't her fault or anything, I didn't even talk to her (or much of anyone else except a call home for my sister's birthday) for several days afterwards. After the week was up, I started to ease back into my normal life, but now, even weeks later, everything is just so horribly wrong.

I'm 19--turning 20 this year, even--and I honestly feel far more awkward and uncomfortable with myself than I did at 15. (God, just typing "turning 20 this year" made my stomach lurch. At least I have until November.) My whole perception of myself has been totally shattered since coming to college. You see, I was The Smart Girl. My whole sense of self-worth and achievement centered on my perceived level of intelligence, even though I hated school. I couldn't stand it, and I still can't, but I was once "good" at it. And then I come here and put in exorbitant amounts of effort... and just suck unbelievably at everything. "No one gets an A here. Don't worry about it, you're so much more than a GPA," Cute Blonde Girl will say soothingly any time I mention grades, and I appreciate how sweet she is, but it isn't enough. I don't mention it often, but she can tell it really freaks me out, I guess. (I find it interesting that she stresses less about grades than I do when she's the one who wants to go to medical school. But she does still stress, unlike pretty much everyone else I know. A lot of people I know seem to have a "C's get degrees" mentality, which is kind of sad at a school that can cost up to $60k/year. Personally, if I had a kid and had to pay the full $60k/year for their college, I would be so unbelievably pissed if I found out that they were getting shitfaced every night of the week and never putting in any work. their One of my neighbors said once that she doesn't need to go to class most days because you only have to maintain a 2.0 to stay off academic probation. Umm...)

And honestly, I don't even know why I'm even in college. Well, I mean, I guess it's because it's become something of an expectation, right? My family very clearly expected it of me. The simple answer would be that I'm here because I don't have anywhere else to go. I can't ever go back home. I shouldn't even have to explain that one. I mean, it's Mississippi. But I can't just go anywhere I feel like because I don't have any direction or skills that can lead to decent employment. All of my friends from home share this sentiment. None of us know why we're in college or what we're doing, except that we're fulfilling what's expected of us.

I just feel like everything is so futile. A lot of people say that if you don't have a college degree, then you can't get a job. It's true that many jobs require a college degree, but there are also many people who graduate college and still can't get a job, or they can only get hired at McDonalds or Starbucks or something. (Hey, the latter might not be so bad. Cute Blonde Girl did once say that she would totally marry a barista if it meant she could have Starbucks any time she wanted!) So, I could potentially put myself through the misery of school and then still end up unemployed or stuck in a minimum wage job. What is the point of this? I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't solely because I had the misfortune of being born in 1994 and therefore coming of age in a crappy economy. And I can't even take a semester off and gather all my shit together or something because I don't have anywhere to go and also I really, really don't want to prolong this experience.

I just really don't like being in college. It's nothing specific to my school. My friend from home who goes to the most opposite school I can possibly think of shares the exact same sentiment. Like, it makes me feel... trapped? I live in half a cement box, I share a bathroom with gross people who apparently don't know how to wipe blood and vomit off the toilet seats or clean hair out of the sinks, I eat shitty cafeteria food and don't even have the option to cook anything for myself, I have to take a bunch of annoying required classes (although I guess I can't knock ALL the annoying gen ed requirements because if I never took philosophy, I wouldn't have Cute Blonde Girl and that is just unthinkable), homework/studying consumes probably 75% of every single day (even and especially weekends) because I have to make a better GPA this semester, and it's rare that I can get a moment alone to just breathe, you know? I feel like I'm at school literally all the time. And I've always, for years and years, hated school, even though I really wanted to like college. I'm just running on a drained battery, day in and day out. I would love to have just one day where I could bake some fucking chocolate chip cookies and lie in bed and watch a stupid movie, maybe even with Cute Blonde Girl if she wanted to come over despite her distaste for baked goods, and not have to think about price elasticity and essay-writing strategies or listen to a bunch of assholes scream incessantly at 2 a.m.

And I can't even relax on spring break because I have a test the week I come back. You know, my dad might work 80 hours a week, but at least he gets to actually relax on his vacations.

Sometimes I just sit and wonder if I have what it takes to be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg or whoever and say fuck it all, yet end up a billionaire. But I don't. Those guys are special. I'm not.

Well, on the positive side, college has made me lose a pants size. And I have Cute Blonde Girl, at least as a friend. I think if I left, she'd be the only part of college I'd even miss. She's easily one of the most wonderful people I've ever met, occasional annoying quirks aside. I'm not counting the city of Boston itself because it will always be here, college or no college. It really is a beautiful city.

I started seeing a therapist once a week through the student health center since it's free. She's really nice. But I've only been three times so far, so I don't really know what to expect from it. I was 14 the last time I went to any sort of therapist or counselor. It was a very different time.

Hmm... There's a really hot Norwegian chick in my business class. That's right, she's from freaking Norway. As in, the country right next to Sweden. Oh yes. She even has a sexy accent and everything. I talked to her one day because we did this awkward icebreaker activity where we had to introduce ourselves to as many people as possible and explain a picture to them. She was nice... and hot... and blonde... and hot... and, of course, had a boyfriend. C'est la vie. They always do, and they always will. Well, Cute Blonde Girl doesn't. But most do. I don't know why so many straight women who get fed up with men joke that they want to become gay because they think it's easier. I find literally nothing about this easy. The hot straight girls, they are everywhere, all the time, nonstop.

I still haven't had this conversation with Cute Blonde Girl. I know, I know. But I just can't have any emotional discussions right now without getting really upset. Actually, I haven't even seen Cute Blonde Girl in a little while because she's either had or is about to have a test in every single class. But she said she misses me and wants to do something together at some point this week. I miss her too.

Interestingly, I've seen the hot Norwegian girl around, like, everywhere this past week. That's kind of funny in a school this size. And all her friends are really hot too. It's kind of making my current goal of ignoring all attractive girls (except Cute Blonde Girl, I can't ignore her) really difficult. I wanted to ignore them because they are distracting and frustrating, but this is going about as well as it sounds like it's going. Actually, now that I'm trying to ignore them, even more seem to be appearing. With their boyfriends, of course. I think it's because I'm making a conscious effort. I think I spent more time actively trying to force myself NOT to drool over Miss Norway in class today than I usually spend drooling in the first place.

Someone should just follow me around with a spray bottle full of ice cold water and spray me in the face several times whenever a hot girl is around. Or blow one of those airhorns in my ear. I really hate noise, so that might be more effective.

On a lighter note, I've taken up a new hobby. I have been learning HTML and CSS, and this shit is like magic to me. I eventually hope to learn the other languages like PHP and JavaScript that actually make stuff work. But I kind of have to go at a really slow pace due to school, so that might take a while. I don't know what I plan to do with this skill once I acquire it. I guess I find it oddly fun because I am actually kind of a huge geek. I always have been. But, like, a secret geek. I would never broadcast this geekery in real life except to other geeks. I guess you could say that I am in the geek closet. Haha.

Anyway, I suppose I should return my never-ending mountain of homework. If I can even stand to look at it any longer, anyway.

Comments

jeff's picture

Well...

"A lot of people I know seem to have a "C's get degrees" mentality, which is kind of sad at a school that can cost up to $60k/year. Personally, if I had a kid and had to pay the full $60k/year for their college, I would be so unbelievably pissed if I found out that they were getting shitfaced every night of the week and never putting in any work."

Well, not to completely condone that behavior, but college is about more than studies, too. The friendships are way more important than what you learn. My last three jobs have all been through connections for never-advertised jobs. So, as much as you may want to think getting an A is going to show you are the clear choice for a job, that is only true if you're not being hired by a C student with connections who will end up hiring the person he did keg stands with while you were studying. So, never discount the power of networking, the people you meet there will have potentially way more sway in your future than your GPA. Look at it this way, one of the Facebook millionaires was just the guy who shared a dorm with Zuckerberg. Random chance.

"None of us know why we're in college or what we're doing, except that we're fulfilling what's expected of us."

That probably puts you in the vast majority.

"I just feel like everything is so futile. A lot of people say that if you don't have a college degree, then you can't get a job. It's true that many jobs require a college degree, but there are also many people who graduate college and still can't get a job..."

Well, if you're unclear about what you want to do in college, that does make it less likely to achieve post-college. Despite not being young myself, I work with a lot of recent college graduates who approached the situation rationally. They were already pursuing engineering/mechanical engineering degrees, but realized that wouldn't be unique enough for a career, and knew that green jobs and energy savings were getting more and more play in the news, from the government, etc., so they started to gear their degree, internships, and initial jobs to become experienced there. But it helps to clarify a trajectory in that way, which means getting a broad trajectory as a starting point.

"I just really don't like being in college. It's nothing specific to my school. My friend from home who goes to the most opposite school I can possibly think of shares the exact same sentiment. Like, it makes me feel... trapped? I live in half a cement box, I share a bathroom with gross people who apparently don't know how to wipe blood and vomit off the toilet seats or clean hair out of the sinks, I eat shitty cafeteria food and don't even have the option to cook anything for myself, I have to take a bunch of annoying required classes..."

All of which will be your favorite stories to share in 20 years with the friends you make there.

"Sometimes I just sit and wonder if I have what it takes to be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg or whoever and say fuck it all, yet end up a billionaire. But I don't. Those guys are special. I'm not."

Gates is hardly special. He was at the right place at the right time with the right skill set. Thousands have done what he has since then, just not at the time when it mattered. Read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell for more here. The trick is having one thing you must do above all else, whether or not there is money at the other end, and putting in 10,000 hours doing it before you even know if it will amount to anything. No one does that part, yet expects the end result. Most people who put in the first part get the end result. But I think it also has to be organic. You can't just pick any random thing, dedicate yourself to it to try and get rich, and then it will happen. Needs to be something you would do it no reward might ever be attached to it.

"Well, on the positive side, college has made me lose a pants size. And I have Cute Blonde Girl, at least as a friend."

Well, that's as much as she can be, given that she has no indication more is an option...

"I started seeing a therapist once a week through the student health center since it's free. She's really nice."

Is that as often as you're allowed to go? ;-)

"I don't know why so many straight women who get fed up with men joke that they want to become gay because they think it's easier. I find literally nothing about this easy. The hot straight girls, they are everywhere, all the time, nonstop."

You're merging being gay and being neurotic into one thing. They are separate. So what if they are everywhere? You don't need a buffet, just an entree.

"I still haven't had this conversation with Cute Blonde Girl. I know, I know. But I just can't have any emotional discussions right now without getting really upset."

Except when you have them when you're not upset anyway, ruling out the need to avoid them...

"Actually, now that I'm trying to ignore them, even more seem to be appearing. With their boyfriends, of course. I think it's because I'm making a conscious effort. I think I spent more time actively trying to force myself NOT to drool over Miss Norway in class today than I usually spend drooling in the first place."

You've learned how to give proper attention to the flip side of your desires, rather than steer into them...

"On a lighter note, I've taken up a new hobby. I have been learning HTML and CSS, and this shit is like magic to me. I eventually hope to learn the other languages like PHP and JavaScript that actually make stuff work. But I kind of have to go at a really slow pace due to school, so that might take a while. I don't know what I plan to do with this skill once I acquire it. I guess I find it oddly fun because I am actually kind of a huge geek. I always have been. But, like, a secret geek. I would never broadcast this geekery in real life except to other geeks. I guess you could say that I am in the geek closet. Haha."

Easiest way to get time to do this, take a class in it next semester. One imagines Zuck and Gates never had issue hiding that they were geeks.

---
"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles

Super Duck's picture

Haha, I actually really can

Haha, I actually really can only see the therapist once a week. On my first visit, she said the demand for these services is so high that a lot of people who want to go can't.

I know I can't just study all the time, but I feel like I have to. Like, even though I know I'm still most likely not going to make all A's even with constant studying, it feels like I have to. For example, I have two tests next week, and I've kept up with the material all semester and am finding that I really don't even have to do much "actual" studying, but it freaks me out if I don't sit down with the book for 3 hours or something. Cute Blonde Girl feels pretty much the same way when it comes to studying, except she runs track so that forces her to not study sometimes. But the difference is that she just kind of accepts the fact that she will not get A's despite her compulsion to study--I guess because she's a sophomore and is therefore used to it already--but it still just pisses me off. I have not yet reached the "defeated acceptance" state. She does go through all her tests and papers and ask for points back, though, and apparently most of the professors actually give in... Yesterday she suggested I start doing the same, but I don't think it will work for me because, unlike her, I am not the human embodiment of the word "adorable."

I can't separate being neurotic from being gay because being neurotic consumes, like, my entire life! It's more "everywhere" than hot straight girls... which are EVERYWHERE!!! :(

I don't know. A lot of things kind of make me feel like I'm trapped in a harder version of high school where any mistake has the potential to cost thousands of dollars. I'm still not "living," just existing. I work insane amounts for results I know I will never see, but I can't make myself stop. I don't even know if it'll pay off in the end. I don't have time to go out and explore the city when the whole reason I even applied here was to finally get to live in a major city. I'm only happy when I'm with Cute Blonde Girl, and the rest of the time I'm just angry about all this stuff.