Mid-life crisis: 20 years too soon

by Marissa Ochoa

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to your senior year of high school. You were one of two types of people: either you knew what you were going to do for the next few years, or you shuffled awkwardly while struggling for an answer that didn’t sound redundant.

Fast-forward to the present and most young adults are still categorized into these two categories. For those who are still figuring it out, an age-old question is asked more often than not: what are you going to do with your life?

“Figuring it out” is a scapegoat to avoid judgment for taking a few years off from school. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to plan out the future. But why the urgency of having every step planned out before turning 21?

There’s this traditional path most young adults are expected to follow. Go to a four-year college, get a job, get married, have kids and grow old. If this plan isn’t followed right after high school, all of a sudden one becomes unfit by society’s standards.

Family and friends begin to ask that same age-old question when we are barely entering our 20s. Why are we so afraid to slow things down? Why can’t we all take a few years to really live life?

In high school, students are already being told to figure out a career path at 16. We all remember those school assemblies that shoved college brochures down our throats, which practically screamed ‘choose now or be doomed to work a dead-end job for the rest of your days.’ 16-year-olds can’t even watch R-rated movies without adult supervision, let alone choose a career affecting who and what they’ll become.

Sticking with the status quo and continuing to follow through with this step-by-step guide to a mediocre life is not done by choice. In actuality, we are given an ultimatum to be accepted by society or degraded for choosing otherwise.

“It is a decision, but if you choose against the popular then it will be frowned upon by some people,” sociology junior Zayra Duran said.

I know if it were my choice, I wouldn’t be attending school right now. I would be trying to do things I didn’t have the time for in high school. But because I live in a fast-paced world where every passing year is just a ticking time bomb, I was forced into my career path right as I hit 18.

Almost every young adult has come across some form of mid-life crisis in their 20s.

I don’t know what I’m going to major in. What happens if I don’t choose the right career? But I’m already in college so I’m expected to have an idea of what I want.

All of these questions hit close to home for most college students and in a nutshell, it’s sad.

From the first day of college, students stop living their lives in the now and start working toward a future. However, there’s little-to-no room for a breather when one has been trained to follow a particular life map.

Your 20s should be about doing things you won’t be able to do at an older age. This is the time when most people are in their prime, yet they waste it on worrying about whether they will have a career and family before they get gray hair.

“We’re trying to have everything set in stone right away. But no. There’s still so much time … if anything, take one obstacle at a time,” anthropology junior Jocelyn Valencia said.

Maybe somebody doesn’t know what he or she wants as a career when they’re 20. This doesn’t determine failure.

Day after day, students lower their heads and hustle; going through work trying to push their way to the top. In a blink of an eye, 30 years have passed without a single year actually lived to it’s fullest.

Stressing about a 9-to-5 job isn’t going to create a life worth retelling. So go ahead and live. Stop having a mental breakdown every time you’re not exactly where you pictured you’d be in your 20s.

You have more time than you think.