I am exactly halfway through my college career, which can only mean one thing—the mid-college slump. No one ever talks about MCS, but it is a widespread disorder commonly found among college sophomores who frequent coffee shops and libraries. Symptoms include a hunched back from all those heavy textbooks in their backpacks, self-medicating with copious amount of caffeine in energy drink and coffee forms and crazed eyes from all the sleep they’re missing out on. Treatment includes hibernation, comfort food, moms and de-stressing activities. MCS can be fatal to victims’ academic transcripts and social lives.
In all seriousness, no one tells you how hard it is to be a sophomore in college. You’ve got a job on top of a full course load, you finally found friends you want to hang out with, you don’t see your parents as often and your roommates probably annoy the crap out of you. Plus, you’re probably reconsidering all your life decisions, including your major.
In the month or so since I’ve been back at school following a whirlwind winter break, I’ve been at my lowest point ever. My anxiety, depression and bank account took the hardest hits I’ve endured since I was a freshman in high school dealing with my first-ever break-up.
All I’ve been able to do for the past few weeks (in true Sadness fashion) is cry, eat ice cream and take naps so long they were just borderline sleeping at random times of the day. One morning, I woke up and literally just started balling. Nothing triggered me other than the fact that I had to go to class. (And yes, I definitely skipped class and work a couple times during my Dark Month).
My mental health was so bad that I ended up turning to my mom for comfort, something I haven’t done since I was in high school. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t admit when they’re hurting, so this showed me how bad it really was.
She told me I was overwhelmed and stressed. She asked me to come home and take a week off. I can’t, I told her as I sobbed alone in my dorm room. I have to go to work today. I can’t miss it.
It didn’t help that my job was sucking the life out of me, I didn’t have any classes that I enjoyed and I was having doubts on my chosen career path. Still, I didn’t feel entitled to go through a crisis. I didn’t have a tremendous amount of work to overwhelm me; I couldn’t fathom why I was feeling so suffocated and anxious and uninspired all the time.
Then I realized: This is my crisis, my mid-college crisis with a capital C.
After years of going through life at 80 miles per hour, this was life telling me to hold the fuck up and really stop to consider the things that truly matter in life, like what makes me happy. So, I thought. What makes me happy? Travel, Disney and writing came to mind. Journalism and politics—my chosen career path—did not.
Now I had a new hurdle. I knew I wanted something else, but I didn’t know how to admit I wanted to make a 90 degree turn in life. Worse, I couldn’t admit it to anyone else. What if they thought I was a quitter? Someone who didn’t know what I wanted out of life? I have always been the person who knew what she wanted. This is the first time I ever doubted myself.
A tub of rocky road ice cream and a long, enthusiastic pep talk from one of my best friends later, my mind was set. I had a plan to dip my toe into a new major the next semester, and reevaluate after that. I also had a plan to tackle my job in a new way that would be more fun and easier to handle.
The mid-college crisis is a rite of passage. Even now, I see my college friends going through it, too. It’s just because you’re at this weird point where you’re halfway to being an independent adult who needs a job to pay rent, and halfway from living in a bubble with your family. You’re terrified of making the wrong life choices. Hell, I’m still petrified of making the wrong life choices.
But, in the words of my all-knowing mother: “YOU are the only one who can decide what you want to do with your life. Take it from me that running yourself ragged won’t give you a happy life. When I was your age I thought I was going into environmental policy. You have tons of life in front of you still… Plenty of time to decide. Let it find you.”