You might say that I’m on a rampage. An early strain of midlife crisis has struck me like an arrow and it’s been making my behavior quite panicky and erratic. I’ve realized that unless I go to graduate school for reasons unknown, the end to my entire educational career looms just over the horizon, which up until now is about all I’ve known. The thought is disconcerting to say the least.
Maybe I’m jumping the gun. These concerns might be a tad premature seeing as I’m only in my third year and another year awaits, but already I can’t help but worry. There are so many things I want to do before the umbrella of the student career is snatched away from me and I have to start worrying about stuff like welfare and child support, and I have only a limited time to accomplish them. Trying to check things off my to-do list, my attempts so far have only yielded boredom, arrest or frightened people.
For one, I wanted to get some of those romantic teen movie moments out of my system before I have to grow up and come down to earth. I never took the chance in high school, so I figured it was now or never. Unfortunately for me, I lack anyone specific to woo at the moment and my romantic gestures have taken on a sort of broad focus that could be seen as slightly creepy. In one instance, I opted to copy John Cusack in “Say Anything” and stood outside a girl’s house with a boombox hoisted above my head, blasting music to serenade myself into her heart. Well, girl isn’t really accurate. The music wasn’t addressed to one specific person that I longed for but to an entire sorority. I’ve acknowledged in hindsight that my record choice, Metallica’s Master of Puppets album, might not have been appropriate, a realization that crossed my mind after having the cops called on me and giving them the chase of their lives.
Fear seems to be a recurring response to my endearing but unfocused romantic moves, so I’ve put them on hiatus until I can find a constant target. This phase ended with me giving away boxes of Nilla Wafers tied with red bows. The move might have been cute if there was some sort of inside joke behind it – like if there was some sort of back story involving me, the recipient and the sweet cookie snack – but giving them to total strangers just didn’t go over well at all. I would always get the same, “Um, thanks?” from each and then they would escape my immediate vicinity at breakneck speeds.
Apart from adolescent romantic displays, my anxiety has also expressed itself in the academic realm. Understanding that I only have few more quarters left in me, my class selection has transformed into something more eclectic than ever before. I had never thought about Satan and his role in German literature, for example, but it won’t be long before I actually have to go to the library to learn about it, rather than having the knowledge fed to me by a teacher. Can I go through the rest of my life not knowing about German hell-spawn, behavioral endocrinology, or the impact of the Vietnam War on American religion? I have no idea, and I’m not sure I want to take the risk.
I guess the core of my revelation is that time is short. I would recommend everyone take account of the things they’d like to do with these last few educational years, which may very well be wistfully recalled as the best of your life. Take interesting but nonrequired courses, get involved with clubs, throw a party with a keg of nonalcoholic beer and see what happens. You’re in a college full of opportunities and smart, freethinking minds. Sleepwalking through these years shouldn’t even be an option.
Drew Atkins is a Daily Nexus staff writer.