Like finals season, the university mid-life crisis creeps up on many helpless undergrads without warning.
You could be sharing a relatable meme one minute, but be paralysed by its content during the next.
Maybe you have to resist breaking down thinking about anything related to life after graduation. Or you keep asking yourself what you’re even doing with your life when everyone else is doing awesome. (Truth is, they’re probably not doing so great either.)
If you’re feeling all sorts of anxious and uncertain, rest assured that it does gets better. Here are some ways to find respite and motivation for the road ahead.
1. Get some quality rest
You’re young but not invincible: Those sleepless nights rushing assignments or binging on Netflix wreck you more than you might realise. Even partial sleep deprivation affects your judgement, bringing with it the inability to concentrate[i]. It also puts you at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and irritability[ii]. If you’re bugged by negative thoughts and feel stressed out all the time, a few nights of good rest could be a game changer[iii]. Squeeze a nap into your schedule if you can’t get the full 7 hours right now.
2. Get some steps in
Exercising is a form of distraction that’s good for you, so why not brisk walk in the morning to get fresh air and Vitamin D when the sun isn’t too hot? Walking not only helps you to boost your serotonin levels and improve your mood, but also boosts blood flow to your head for greater clarity of mind[iv]. If you’re staying on campus, invite your roommate or friends along! Running and biking are great alternatives for individuals who want something more intense.
3. Swing by your Lecturer or Prof’s office
If you feel like you might have chosen the wrong major because you can’t cope with the workload or studies, seek advice and help from your lecturers and Professors first. Ask them if you’re doing alright in class and for your assignments, and what you can do to make things easier on yourself. They might even share with you some insights they’ve gained from their own time as students!
You can also share your fears of being unable to find a job after graduation, and ask them for guidance. Don’t forget to make trips down to your school’s career office, too.
4. Speak to alumni
Don’t forget your seniors, who can help dispel some of that brain funk by sharing with you their experience and knowledge! They’ll be able to relate to your struggles, having gone through them not too long ago themselves, and might be able to provide you advice or direction. If you don’t know any seniors in your course, try asking your Professors or course mates if they can connect you to a few. Otherwise, speak to your CCA alumni!
5. Take up a hobby
Hobbies help you destress and take your mind off school and the future. You’re also acquiring new skills in the process, which is never a bad thing. Many introductory workshops are affordably priced on sites like Groupon and Fave if you want to dip your toes into many different things, too. Some people even turn their hobbies into careers. You never know what’ll happen in the future!
6. Take a gap year or semester
Okay, maybe you need some time away from school. If you’ve a clear direction of what you’ll do with the time you’ve freed up, and have the support of your parents or guardians, go for it! Explore your interests and passions during this time. You could also sit down and list down your goals and expectations, and examine them with a critical eye. Are they still what you want? Is your course helping you achieve them? Do you really hate what you’re doing/studying or is it just stress? Do remember that things are not linear and that there are multiple pathways to achieve your career aspirations.
7. Other resources that might spark a breakthrough
When in doubt, go to the Library, said Hermione Granger, and we’ll heed her advice on this one! Consider borrowing resources like Euan Lownie’s Never, Ever Take Anybody’s Advice on Anything, which contains advice from famous Scottish personalities on career and life. Put on some TED talks as for knowledge and inspiration—there’s many topics ranging from Work to Creativity that you can explore.
Don’t worry or feel bad for being having a undergraduate mid-life crisis! Everyone gets hit by it at some point. Trust us that this is only temporary. What’s most important is that you be kind to yourself, and enjoy what’s left of your school life. Things will be okay! All the best!