Pushing Through the Quarter-Life Crisis

College is fun—for me, at least—because it’s like everyone decided to get together and play a big, collective (though definitely pricy) game of house. We have our own little living quarters that we spend our time in, our own professional sports teams that we cheer for, our own newspaper and news outlets (see: the publication that you are currently holding), and even our own news content that directly affects us.

We have our economists and businessmen, our artistic and liberal arts people, and everything in between. We have our eating spots and coffee shops, and, for at least a little while, you may even find yourself renting a house in a neighborhood of fellow kids who are similarly pretending to be real people.

Much like life, you come in green and new and it all happens at once. You slum it for a bit on a distant island in Newton or in a closet-sized forced triple, but it’s all a part of the process.

After your first year, you get a promotion. You may get a housing upgrade to go with it, but at the very least you’ll wake up a bigger and more involved part of the puzzle than the previous year.

The next year, like something out of your early-middle ages, brings with it a restlessness that might inspire you to just drop everything and travel for a while—something to break the 9-to-5 monotony. For some reason in this universe, your multiple-month hiatus of international gallivanting is totally acceptable.

You might also realize that your family (of friends) is outgrowing its current (on-campus) living space, so you might find a new place to live. You’ll pick up everything and settle into a drafty, ramshackle little house in a suburb of Boston College (i.e. off-campus). It’s not much, but you turn it into a home and luckily for you, your best friends happen to be just down the street.

Within a year, you’ll wake up and be startled to find yourself on the other side of that table at the involvement fair, or meeting with a new kid at “the office” who’s actually genuinely interested in your input. You might step back and catch your breath as you try to describe the whole experience to that person on the other side of the table—or even yourself.

One thing I feel that personally captures the essence of this playful “pseudo-journey” through “quasi-life,” is the way that the questions change as you move through these years. The broad-reaching yet specific list of questions (i.e. What do you want to major in? What interests you? What activities are you involved in? Etc.) slowly dissolves into something a little more infinite, a little more open-ended. For better or worse, the questions become, what do you want to when you graduate? Phrased differently, what do you want to do when this simulation ends and you move onto the real thing?

Everyone has a different answer to the question, and many don’t have an answer at all—but the most exciting thing is the nature of the question itself. Some people find these interrogation, Thanksgiving dinner-style conversations daunting, but I’m not necessarily talking about those. I’m talking about the conversations you have with yourself, or the people in your life who care the most. It’s not a question of what you want to do, but rather one of what you want to be, and what mark you want to leave.

When I tell people that I am (or, was) an editor on The Heights, I personally love it when they ask if I want to write for a newspaper or do something in journalism after I graduate.  Not because I take it as a validation of some journalistic mastery or skill (most who ask haven’t even read my work), but because it’s a confirmation that that door and that universe exists. It’s a reminder of an infinite possibility.

At present, my immediate plans don’t involve writing for a newspaper, but to me, the important thing is the question itself.  The question itself implies that the universe in which I become a journalist is the same as if I were to become a lawyer, or a baker, or an airline pilot—it exists.

Having written columns about cheese tray best practices and door-holding etiquette, I’m not one to undertake sermonizing via The Heights, but what I can say is that there is no reason to fear the “What next?” question. BC has been a better sandbox than I could ever have imagined, and now, informed by that experience, I present myself to the world outside the bounds of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street. I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I know what I want it to feel like—something to the tune of these last four years.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

Maddie Phelps

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