Mid-college life crisis symptoms may result in constant fatigue, excessive drinking, emotional breakdowns, depression, skipping classes and confliction over your career or major. College life is stressful enough between balancing your personal and academic lives, add career confusion on top of it and you have a whole lot of stress wrapped up into one busy, tired and burnt out 20-year old. This kind of experience comes with college. Whether you’ve previously conquered your mid-college demon or are in the midst of battle, every student experiences at least some confusion regarding their area of study or career path. And that’s completely normal. Because while the ticking time bomb of your college life approaches full-on adulthood, you don’t have to have all the answers yet.
These 10 remedies will help you alleviate some of your mid-college pain and find the answers to your future.
1. Visit Your Academic Advisor
If there’s anyone to turn to in college when you suffer confusion about the future, it’s your academic advisor. Not only will they be happy to see your face but they will also enjoy giving you what their best at—guidance. “I haven’t suffered much of this mid-college crisis yet but I will go to my academic advisor whenever I need help figuring out the best classes for my area of study, business administration. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do when I get out of college yet but at least I can discuss taking classes geared towards marketing or managing depending on what my focus is,” said Kirkwood Community College freshman Ethan Rollene. If you are interested in other areas of study, it may even interest you to talk to another academic advisor so you can get a better picture of this new interest and the academic workload required. I highly suggest sitting down and weighing the pros and cons of switching your major or double-majoring before doing anything drastic. Depending on your semester hours and where you stand, some advisors may say it wouldn’t be worth it to go back and start all over again. When push comes to shove you can always consider adding a certificate either before or after you graduate.
2. If You Have Gen-Ed’s Left- Explore Other Topics of Interest
This may not apply to everyone but if you haven’t yet completed all your general education requirements, this may just make a recipe of awesomeness for you. If this is you, then prepare to explore other topics of interest. “I had two gen-eds left my sophomore year so I used one as an opportunity to take up creative writing since it seemed fun and I was still undecided. I had two professors in the liberal arts field and both of them really steered me towards the major I chose which is now liberal studies with a concentration in humanities,” said University of Wisconsin-Parkside junior Riley Franklin. While it may be too late to turn your back on your current major, areas of studies are meant to be broad so they can apply to many jobs and careers. Just because you study English doesn’t mean you must become a teacher or a writer. You could become a publisher, a medievalist, a copywriter or an editor. If you have already completed all your gen-eds, maybe you also completed enough AP’s in high school so that you have room in your schedule for electives that pertain to your topics of interest.
3. Talk to a Professional and Seek Mentorship
When going through a painful mid-college crisis, sometimes we must turn to others for help and direction. Try talking or establishing relationships with experts in the field either in person or online. This can be as brief as finding professionals on LinkedIn and shooting them an email or messaging them on Facebook. Aim to ask them meaningful questions about what they do, how they got to the place they’re at now and why they love it. If you’re really ambitious, you may even offer them help and take steps towards building a lasting connection. There’s a wealth of knowledge waiting to be shared out there in the universe but it is up to you to take action and make of it as you will.
4. Invest in a Hobby
With so many hobbies in the world, you can practically take this tip anywhere and hopefully it’s to new heights. Do something that interests you but also relaxes you in order to take your mind off some of the stress. You could try reading, bullet-journaling, playing an instrument, gardening or art therapy, for instance. Remember, just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean it has to become your career or concentration of study. Plenty of people may not have the time in their lives to earn degrees in everything they’re good at or passionate about. Whether you’re looking to explore new options of interest or a place to invest your time, a fantastic tool involves getting hands-on and down and dirty. Try getting involved in student organizations and clubs on campus. This gives you an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who you can seek more information or perspective about the subject from.
5. Take Part in Physical Activity
Nothing’s more important for your physical and mental health than exercise. “Working out in anyway, whether it be swimming, lifting weights or wrestling, I have noticed puts me into a different kind of head space. I feel better physically and my mind becomes more determined to accomplish things even other than sports. I’ll hit the gym if I feel like I need a good break in between studying or loads of school work to clear my head and hit the reset button on my brain,” said Kirkwood Community College freshman Bradan Shoopman. If your feeling stressed, confused or overworked, try taking a walk outdoors to get some fresh air. The sunlight offers a hormone called serotonin which can change your mood and boost your happiness. If you’re looking for something a little more intensive why not try hot yoga or some form of martial arts. You could even participate in a sport like frisbee golfing or blast that music and dance your problems away.
6. Surround Yourself with a Diverse Group of People
Surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people can help you navigate your confusion in tremendous ways. It all starts with conversation. Consult with your friends on your confusion and perhaps they have gone through a similar experience or felt the same way and can offer you good advice. And if a shoulder to cry on isn’t what you are looking for, you can try asking questions about their areas of study and gain a little more insight into what that interest pertains as a whole. Ask them about the workload and what they like about it to figure out if this is something worth pursuing.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
Late night writing papers, eh? That sounds like the college life to me. Sleep can be the root and answer to all your problems in life since it is so vitally important to your wellbeing and sanity. As busy college students trying to beat burnout, we often miss out on sleep without thinking twice about it. Without sleep our brain cannot function properly and we often feel fatigued throughout the day. This in turn, affects the way we receive information and the way we perceive the world. It makes stressors more stressful and prevents us from putting forth the most effort or our best foot forward. Start making sleep your priority and reclaim your life by allocating time in your day for rest. Whether it be a mid-day nap or hitting the sheets an hour before you usually do, getting adequate sleep can seriously be a life saver.
8. Give Your Body a Break–Create a ‘YOU’ Day
No one’s going to love you the way you love yourself so show yourself a little love today by putting yourself first for once. You’re allowed to be a priority, too. So simple that it’s often overlooked, but the key to ultimate self-care lies in what you do for yourself. Now don’t waste any more time contemplating your next move and whip out that bath bomb you’ve been keeping in your secret stash drawer waiting for a spare moment to use. Pamper yourself with a face mask. Treat yourself to a spa day or a massage. Take 10 minutes each day to meditate and relax. Think critically about your life and all the decisions you made that brought you here. Learn to appreciate the little things in life and reflect upon the small moments in your day fondly. You’ll notice that the more relaxed you are and the better you take care of yourself, the clearer your head will be and the less problems you will find throughout the day.
9. Try an Internship or Side Gig
How do you know what you want to do for the rest of your life if you haven’t tried it first? While your mid-college crisis feels like the end of the world, you can’t knock your current major if you haven’t even given it a chance. If you picked that major in the first place then there must have been at least some passion involved. Try job hunting online or asking professors if they know anyone looking for some help. The same thing can be said and applied here when it comes to the new interest you’re looking to pursue. If you can’t switch your major now, look towards paving your own path. As a matter of fact, your future employers care way more about the jobs and activities you participated in than they do about that one line on your resume or diploma displaying your major. Don’t waste time gaining that hands-on experience you so desperately need.
10. Take a Year Off and Do Some Serious Soul Searching
When it comes down to confusion during college, no one knows the solution better than yourself. You must begin by asking yourself some serious questions and visualizing where you see yourself five years down the road (and make sure happiness fits into this picture). Although more complicated than it sounds, serious soul searching is the only way we can ever truly know what we want for ourselves. Sometimes this even results in taking time off school or work to focus on the most important thing on this planet—you. Perhaps you feel confused because the school isn’t the right fit or you don’t connect with the students or professors the way you would like. These are all valid reasons to take some time off and you don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed about it. Many students do it and the plethora that don’t, wish they did or could. Use this time to explore your interests and passions in the hopes it will bring you closer to all your answers.
BONUS: For That Future Quarter-Life Crisis
Similar to your mid-college crisis, this includes confusion about your placement in life and causes you to wonder if maybe you didn’t make the right decisions along the way. Most young adults between the ages of 25-35 feel this at least once in their lifetime whether it’s about their career or the things they’ve yet to accomplish. And while it can be just as confusing as your college crisis, just know that you have the power to change your life at any moment by simply taking action. You are the leader of your own path, so if you don’t like something then do something about it. Don’t be afraid of change and remember that you can do anything. Start by re-defining your goals and rewriting your life plan. Once you do this, your path should follow suite of these motivations.