Illustration by Joaquín Kunkel/The Gazelle

The Quarter Life Crisis

I am between 50 to 78 percent sure that I am undergoing a quarter-life crisis. I am almost 100 percent sure that starting college has ignited it. I’ve ...

Nov 21, 2015

Illustration by Joaquín Kunkel/The Gazelle
I am between 50 to 78 percent sure that I am undergoing a quarter-life crisis. I am almost 100 percent sure that starting college has ignited it. I’ve been rather uncertain about some things since getting to NYU Abu Dhabi, especially whether or not I’m even having a quarter-life crisis. But just to be on the safe side, I’m going to assume I am and do the healthy thing by letting it consume me and keep me up at night. I find that relaxes me much more than petty things like reflection and soul searching.
In high school, my worries, fears and troubles were rather simple. All I worried about was having a nervous breakdown halfway through my SAT exam, leading to decades of psychiatric care and several failed marriages that would cost me every penny I ever made as a professional keyboard typist. That is, until my death from an agonizing disease for which scientists find a cure a week after no one comes to my funeral. As you can see, my anxiety levels are quite normal. Basically nonexistent.
But then suddenly, college happened, and it was like I’d been put into a surreal treachery of images worse than Rene Magritte’s picture of a pipe telling me it’s not really a pipe. Now that I am away from home, adapting to new routines and actively being told to paint a presentable self portrait during my time here, I have been thrown into a river or indecision and doubt. I have started questioning a lot of things. For example, why aren’t Apple chargers called apple juice? And if most people are buried in suits, wouldn’t that make the a zombie apocalypse a formal event? Will I even be prepared for the zombie apocalypse considering this newly instated black tie regulation?
Right now, I have absolutely no direction and am taking the most random set of classes ever. I don’t know what my major is, so I have no idea how I want to sell my labor in the future. And while I do understand that exploration is important in our esteemed liberal arts curriculum, it is at the same time very concerning. In ninth grade, I had planned out my class schedule for the next four years of high school. That’s right, I knew I would take advanced economics before I knew whether my school even offered it. I had a very simple seven-step plan to life:
    1. Graduate high school. 2. Get an undergraduate degree in something that will make me super rich, like Business or Economics. 3. Finally put my “talking back” and “disrespecting adults” skills to use by going to law school. 4. Steal 15 percent of my client’s company as an honest corporate lawyer. 5. Marry Ian Somerhalder. 6. Have a child named Robb in honor of the Game of Thrones character. 7. Have a brain hemorrhage as I’m carrying groceries back to my car one day and die still holding on to that jar of Nutella.
Don’t get me wrong, steps five through seven are definitely still happening., It’s just that the generic formula for wealth doesn’t exactly make my heart go pitter patter like it used to. Which is great — at least I won’t end up in jail for embezzling 2.5 billion dollars. But that also means I won’t have a bank account with 2.5 billion dollars in it. And the downside to all this is that now I’m just floating around in this vacuum of what-is-my-future-even.
My dad and I had a recent conversation in which he nearly gave me a heart attack:
Dad: So what do you intend to become? Me: [Sweats nervously] Um. Dad: Because if you figure it out, then you can plan all your internships within that industry and make the necessary connections you need so that you have proper footing by the time you graduate. Me: [Flatlines]
And the most worrisome thing is that, for once, my dad totally has a point. Not having a major makes me feel so afraid that four years are going to go by and I will graduate a complete nobody, having accomplished, created, published or researched absolutely nothing because I was just too fickle about everything. I don’t want to end up as a 20-something who is unemployed and lives in the basement of a 50-year-old alcoholic, before waking up to realize that I have been that 50-year-old alcoholic all along.
While I know it’s only been about two months into college and I have all four years to go, I’d really like to be ahead of the curve, and presently I’ve just been feeling like I don’t even have a curve. If this no direction business continues, I might end up having to take advice from some prepubescent boy band.
Of course, my major problem is not the only thing fueling this quarter-life crisis. Since getting here, my ideas about the big questions in life are more incoherent than my thesis statements for my writing intensive core class.
Question presented: before a midterm, is it more helpful to pray to the god of the religion I identify with, or do I increase my chances of a miracle if I pray to the respective gods of at least seven different religions?
Analytical framework: Out of the seven, what are the chances they’ll all be off duty?
Counterargument: Wouldn’t just studying for the midterm increase your chances of success, without having to waste your time finding a deity on duty?
Analysis: System overload. Cognitive dysfunction. Maybe just procrastinate for the next three hours and write a Gazelle article about it — you’ll feel better.
To top it all off, aside from my weird crush on the entire NYUAD Literature department and the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, I don’t have much of a love life. But I’d much rather not get into that now. If there’s any hope in this train wreck, it’s the fact that at age 18, my crisis is quarter-life and not midlife. At least, I hope not.
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