I am not new to freak-outs. I have mini freak-outs about once a week. However, when I have major freak-outs it is usually a combination of my over-thinking and events that happen surrounding the thoughts that lead to more and more thoughts. These freak-outs generally manifest themselves into emotional breakdowns where I finally break and just start crying. And when the nearest person asks what’s wrong and I eventually tell them, they learn that the reason is not usually something that just happened, but usually something that happened last week that built up to the point of no return.
But today’s freak-out is not like that. Towards the end of the semester, all college students tend to have mini to large freak-outs, especially regarding all the work they still have to do before they can return home. Let me say, I am ahead, or on schedule with my work for this week and next. I am no longer freaking out about all the tasks I have. I am freaking out about my life. My future. And my purpose here in college.
Today, in one of my classes, we got to discuss the concept of college in today’s society. It was a room full of 20-something year old cynics. We were discussing how undervalued an undergraduate degree has become, because of the quantity of them. We talked about how a college degree now, is the equivalent of a high school diploma 30 years ago. Jobs that were once handed to college grads, now require even higher education. We talked about how it is so hard to pursue something you actually want because of today’s job market. Art majors get put down constantly because people do not usually see great artists in today’s market. What is left over, are jobs focusing solely on math and science and less and less on a broader education like a liberal arts degree. Employers look at a resume from a liberal arts student and don’t necessarily see any marketable skills. The whole system is all jacked up.
These are things that I have known for some time. However, they never really scared me until now. In a year, I will be out of college, waiting on a decision from a law school and possess an English degree. I have no idea what to do in the semester between undergrad and law school. Do I get another law-related job to boost my application for law school? Do I try to get a job with my English degree in case law school doesn’t work out? Do I have to start paying off my loans since I won’t be in school? Or can I defer payments until after I hear about law school fate? After those questions passed through my mind in a total of maybe 5 seconds, I found myself asking a very scary question. So then what’s the point? Why am I here?
I have never, ever truly questioned the value of education. I’ve heard stories about people who drop out of college with only a semester or two left, and I always wondered why they made that decision. And then I realized the tremendous amount of pressure we are constantly under. For the most part, I like to think that I handle it fairly well. Some people don’t. They crack under the pressure and give up.
While I am not planning on dropping out of school, I have such little motivation right now that it scares me. I want to go home and sleep. I want to fast forward so I have some kind of certainty in my life. I just want to know that everything I am doing, will be worth something. More than a piece of paper with my name on it. More than the thousands of dollars of debt I have accrued in order to try and pursue a dream that may or may not actually come true. But no one can assure us of that.
We learn a lot of things in life. Things that people think will help us succeed. We learn to treat others as we would like to be treated. We learn long division. We learn how to formulate an argument. We don’t learn a lot of things that will help us succeed in life. We don’t learn how to be a manager until we gain that position. We don’t learn how to formulate realistic plans about the future. Or proper back-up plans for if those go south. We don’t learn how to build up a credit score, how to erase our debt. We don’t learn how to accept defeat. And we certainly don’t learn how to rebuild our lives when everything we’ve worked for ends up being unattainable.
I just want to know that what I am doing, will be worth something.