Art by Madeline Duvall
Close your eyes and picture your life in 20 years. What do you see? Who do you have by your side? What circumstances led you to this precipice of life? What is your life’s purpose?
These questions are daunting to even the most accomplished adults, yet many advisers and professors ask students constantly. Between the ages of 18 and 22, young adults are expected to transition into the unknown world of adulthood; they are getting their first professional jobs and making connections that could last a lifetime.
With all of this to think about, college students shouldn’t be expected find their true calling just yet.
A life purpose is defined as a type of personal guide that drives a person forward in their life; it is the reason to live, to thrive, to feel fulfilled. With this definition looming, the pressure students feel is undeniable and ever-present. It can take a lifetime for a person to figure out what they want, yet college students are expected to decide in four years.
A “midlife crisis” is when many people experience a period of self-discovery, or a lack thereof, later in life. About 10% to 15% of adults aged 45 to 60 have some variation of a midlife crisis, according to Market Watch. Adults experience this when provoked by questions regarding their unfulfilling job, undetermined life purpose or unwanted aging.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicates these thoughts and decisions. Anxiety rose substantially due to growing concerns surrounding the pandemic, as reported by Mental Health America. Now, teens and young adults are especially affected.
Between adjusting to the changing world and trying to make it through the day without getting sick, people have no energy left to find their sole reason for existing. Even harmless errands like going to the supermarket or running to the post office jeopardize lives.
On the other hand, this time of uncertainty opens doors for questions and imagination. This unexpected influx of extra time gives people additional hours to contemplate future decisions and life choices.
Whether you discovered yourself during quarantine or not, there should be no rush to uncover your passion in life at such a young age. Having a solidified life plan on the brink of exiting your youth is an amazing gift. On the contrary, if you’re like the majority of students and are not 100% sure where your life might take you, that’s OK too.
College is a time to experiment with different classes, try new extracurriculars and find out what truly makes you happy. Luckily, there are many benefits to not having everything figured out right away. With more time for growth and self-discovery, students can learn for themselves which paths work — or don’t work. On their journey to find themselves, they might even impact the world along the way.
Students should take their time and not allow the pressures of society to weigh them down because one day they’ll be 45 and wishing they were young again.
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