Letter to the editor: We don’t talk about the quarter life crisis enough
August 16, 2022
The anticipation of receiving your degree, symbolic of all your hard work, and the gathering of your family and friends, makes graduation an overwhelming yet exciting period in life. It’s a celebration of your academic achievements, a celebration of the friendships and communities you have formed, and indicative of your transition from adolescence to adulthood.
This is the first true transition from adolescence to adulthood.
“The first day of the rest of your life” they say. Unfortunately for me, and many other graduates alike, the feeling of excitement is quickly followed by anxiety and uncertainty about what is to come in the next chapter of your life. The loss of routine, community, and security that comes with college is heartbreaking.
The first few weeks following my graduation were filled with goodbyes. When the dust had finally cleared, I had to grapple with my identity. How do you say goodbye to who you were in college and prepare to enter the next phase of your personhood?
A large part of my identity throughout my adolescence was found in my academics. I found validation in my grades, extracurricular activities and the structure that schooling gave me. Without that structure I didn’t know who I was. I was mourning. It felt like I was attending a funeral of my identity, purpose and sense of belonging.
When I introduced myself I was Oreoluwa Ojewuyi, Editor-in-Chief, pursuing bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism with a minor in french. Now I am Oreoluwa Ojewuyi with two bachelor’s degrees and no idea about my next step.
If you look at my life you would assume I had it all together. I was accepted into a masters program that seemed like the perfect fit for me. I was accepted into a German exchange fellowship program that would allow me to travel and meet other people in my field. I was offered a full time position as a grant writer for a non profit in Chicago. Yet none of it felt right.
I thought my trip would help me feel confident in my next steps. Growing up I had found solace in always having a plan. The opportunities I took were carefully calculated to achieve my professional and academic goals. I didn’t realize that along the way I lost my spontaneity and ability to trust in the unknown. I lost trust in myself. I questioned if the life decisions I was making moving forward would propel me to the life I had carefully curated for myself.
These experiences awakened something in me that I thought I had lost a long time ago. One might think “ugh is she really complaining about having too many options?” When you’ve lost trust in your decision making, deciding between career and academic options that might affect the trajectory of your real life can present a challenge.
Unexpectedly, I lost my grandfather, who lived in Nigeria, a few weeks before going to Germany and quickly learned that you can never perfectly plan out your life.
When I came back from my trip to Germany and Nigeria I decided to trust my gut. I was still not completely sure what I wanted to study in graduate school so I made the difficult decision to defer and take the full time job opportunity as a grant writer and move to Chicago. I realized that going to graduate school right now just for structure and stability wasn’t right for me. I needed to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I always felt that creation had to serve a specific purpose which is partly why I chose to pursue journalism. To me, my job as a grant writer allowed me the ability to grow in a new way. It’s allowed me to have the space to create outside of work. To educate myself outside of the classroom. School is always there. A new job opportunity is always there. I don’t want to regret grabbing an opportunity.
My advice to anyone who might be confused moving into the next phase in life is don’t want to settle into a routine simply because it’s comfortable. Though I’m not 100% sure that this decision is the right one, it has awakened a side of me that has laid dormant for so long. It allowed me to take time to discover myself again. Myself without RSOs or academic validation.
This decision is uncomfortable. It’s scary. Though I’ve always envisioned the path towards success as a straight line- I’m taking a detour.
Taking time to understand yourself and understand that detours from your plan can be more beneficial to me in the long run than staying on course.