The mid-mid-mid-life crisis

Published 11:15 am Sunday, May 29, 2022

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By MEG HERNDON | Staff Writer

It is the annual time of graduations and graduates. A year ago I was one of the many that walked across that stage, got my diploma and proceeded to have a bit of a mid-mid-mid-life crisis.

It’s funny how you can spend 21 years in school and still have zero clue what real life is supposed to look like once you get that degree.

“Easy,” you might say, “You get a job.”

Correct. But, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Sure, I was equipped with the skills I needed to get a job and do well in that job (two different set of skills by the way), but that didn’t really prepare me for what real life was like.

Everyone likes to give life advice to students going from high school to college, and I understand, there’s a lot of fun nostalgic material there. But sometimes advice for college graduates starts and ends with the somewhat shoulder shrugging commencement speech given to them on that fateful graduation day.

And I know there are a million painfully trite self-help books I could read, and there are probably people on social media who could sell me the answer to all things in the universe for the small price of four $20,000 payments (don’t worry, they have payment plans). But, I’d rather just wing it if those are the choices I have.

Sometimes, my pessimistic self can’t help but think people are just scared to say, “OK, well, it’s not the most fun and often scary, but sometimes it’s not terrible. Good luck!”

I’m obviously exaggerating for the sake of it (somewhat), but those first couple of months post-graduation were hard for me.

Sometimes for insignificant reasons in the grand scheme of things.

For example, when you go from walking 10,000 steps a day and having free time to work out, to all the sudden maybe walking 1,000 steps a day and trying to understand how you can have a life outside of the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., your body begins to look different.

Don’t even get me started on the crushing reality of sitting back and realizing that the only way you will get to experience a true spring break again is by micro-dosing your still-in-college-friends’ Instagram posts.

It’s devastating realizing you not only have to act like a grown-up and do adult things but that you sometimes even enjoy it. While I used to make fun of my parents for going to bed at 9 p.m., that sounds like a great time now.

I suppose I should also give post-graduation life some props as well. It’s nice getting paid and not having homework. It’s fun to see my brain become a more stable and more mature version of itself that can actually handle some problems without combusting. It’s therapeutic to learn what gives me happiness in life outside of academics and scores on tests.

Living life is sometimes incredibly hard, but also incredibly rewarding, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard to explain to people who probably just had some of the best moments of their lives that they’re potentially about to spiral, but that it won’t be for nothing.

And if you wanted me to give advice to newly graduated twenty-somethings, why? I just went on about how no one prepares you for life, so why would I know the answers that everyone before me didn’t. I know I’m pretty smart, but come on, I can’t perform miracles here.

I doubt any twenty-something would read this anyway, because what twenty-something is spending their time reading the local column?

But just in case, by chance one of them is, I impart on you these mind-blowing pro tips (exclusively available here only): stop going on Instagram a lot, it’s not fun to see someone else’s life through rose-tinted glasses while living in your own in the super annoying loud theater speakers with 8K Ultra HD. Walk as often as you can. Open your mail, and make those payments. Join some social group, making new friends is hard without forced proximity. Call your parents if you don’t know something, and Google and YouTube are your best friends.