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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Column: Pre-life crisis

In my column last week I opened with a remark about how college can be scary. Truth be told, it is not. Graduating from college is scary.

I have no doubt the adjustment between college and the real world will be more difficult than the one between high school and college. After all, the only difference between high school monotony and college life is not living with your parents, shorter school days and the privilege to spend Tuesday nights playing beer pong on a broken-off closet door in the dorms. How did I ever get used to that?

The change so many of us are faced with now is much more daunting. Breaking away from my cookie cutter routine of picking a class schedule and arranging a 16-hour work week around it will be difficult. So I’m just supposed to pick a city to move to, pick a profession to pursue and then get a job? At least that will be easy.

This is the pre-life crisis I am trying to explain. A 40 year-old male can reassure himself of his masculinity during his mid-life crisis by buying a sports car when he starts balding. That 43 year-old woman can respond to her own mid-life crisis by starting to get her coug’ on. What options do we have? Everyone is expecting us to come out of college with a smile on our face, full of youth and vigor, and ready to take on the world. I think the more realistic expectation would involve me on my parents’ couch filling out an application to the Starbucks my Mom’s friend manages.

Even with the economy down and jobs few and far between, my fate to become a slightly over-qualified barista is not yet sealed. Many people choose to go to grad school, but enduring two more years of classes with only half the time to adjust to the local college culture just doesn’t sound appealing. Nor does the option of staying in Davis for grad classes, a life where the majority of the social interactions you experience would involve people asking if you still go here when they see you on campus.

With the plan B of an extended education out the window, I could always consider the option of travel. When pondering the idea of going to the London Olympics this summer, I thought fondly of watching the U.S. basketball team in action. Then I realized this would land me back in America two weeks later, sans whatever money I had saved up to leave college with. I also could make plans for a long stay in Thailand or somewhere exotic in South America on the cheap, but I’m pretty sure I can think of about 15 inspirational movies reminding me that I can’t just run away from my problems.

Having pointed out the flaws surrounding these alternatives to becoming an adult, I have started my preparations to face the music. Perhaps it really is time to throw in the towel on no-shave November and the other college shenanigans. In reality, I should be suiting up to look for a job in an attempt to keep up with my roommate who has been pulling in five-part interviews every other week. That would at least be a change in my current routine of feeling guilty for not attending career fairs and peaking-out my average daily productivity at doing laundry.

It remains undetermined whether I am more likely to find myself in a suit and tie heading into the challenging environment of the workplace, or throwing on sweatpants to spend an afternoon playing Windows XP Pinball in my parents’ garage. For the mean time, I will do all that is in my power to not only ensure my future, but as I have said before, enjoy the time I have left.

This means that I will be scouring Craigslist for potential job opportunities, but also using it to look for a free couch to put in my backyard. I will still take in the local party scene, but with a greater focus on improving my ability to chat people up.

A pre-life crisis can be disheartening but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your college persona completely. Keep having fun, but consider focusing on your future a bit beyond what classes to take next quarter.

If you have any tips on how to fail more classes, you can reach AARON WEISS at atweiss@ucdavis.edu.

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