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Quarter-life crisis

Vicky Jacobsen | Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I’m closing in on my senior year of college. This should be an exciting time. I get to register for classes first, I’m a month away from discovering what’s so great about that Club Fever place and I finally know where they hide the tortilla chips in the dining hall (I know, it took me a while.)
But if I’m going to enjoy my last 12 months as an undergraduate, I’m going to have to avoid the articles, television shows and columns that insist life as a 20-something woman must be one red wine-fueled angst fest.
The message is everywhere. Word from the Yale Daily News is I should be preparing a fine wardrobe of sweatpants for my “SWUG” (senior washed-up girl) year. It’s a shame I’m already this close to being washed up, since neurologists keep coming out with studies proving my brain won’t function properly until I’m 25, by which point I can only assume I’ll be reduced to wearing a Snuggie in public.
Then there’s Susan Patton (“that Princeton mom”), who wants college-aged ladies (a.k.a. me) to know our chances of finding love are pretty much over if they haven’t snagged a husband by graduation day. If there’s any truth to this, it looks like I’ll celebrate my 25th birthday on the couch wearing the aforementioned Snuggie and watching the new hit movie “My Big Fat Princeton Wedding.”
And because I enjoy a good method of procrastination as much as the next person, I read most of the angry responses to her letter. Most focused on the incontrovertible facts marrying young ends a woman’s career ambitions, marrying young guarantees divorce and that it simply isn’t appropriate to write things like that. Register me in the “confused” category.
So what’s a girl to do? I could stop reading stuff I find on the Internet, for one thing. But I’m not sure ignoring all these opinions and unsolicited life advice is really for the best, either. Honestly, most of these commentaries aren’t wrong. Starting a career is scary in this economy. It will be harder to find a date or a new best friend when we’re not on a campus of 8,000 peers. And, yes, after three years I am suddenly willing to wear exercise gear to class. It only becomes a problem when you start to believe one person’s philosophy or advice can guarantee your happiness. It can’t. Each of us will meet people whose fast-track careers suddenly went south for some reason beyond their control. We’ll each attend a perfect wedding and find out later the marriage was anything but. Some of us will find our carefully planned lives sidetracked by a terrible illness or accident. And no blog post or television show will prevent any of that from happening.
It’s great to have goals and it’s understandable to worry about achieving them. But controlling the future? I’ll have more fun if I accept I can’t.