I like to think that my quarter life crisis happened last summer, driving to work at 5:30 in the morning, and listening to “Escape” by Rupert Holmes (aka “The Pina Colada Song”). I was freaking out. I was about to turn 24 and still in undergrad with no real forward momentum in my life, or at least that’s how I felt. Most of my friends had graduated and were struggling with the challenges of life without homework. I had just changed my major from science based to creative writing. Despite all the good and wonderful things that had happened- my boyfriend admitting that he loves me and my first trip to Indian creek, I suddenly felt like I had begun running out of time for all of my larger life goals.
A year later, while I am by no means that much wiser, I have certainly learned a lot between sitting in my car listening to someone else’s questionable choices regarding their marriage and standing in line at a Whole Foods trying to buy lunch and type this out on my phone (clearly some thing’s don’t change). I’m using this moment of self reflection to compile three lessons I’ve learned over this past year. By no means is this a guide for other people my age trying to make it to and through 25, but more of a reminder that every year is both good and bad, and while I might be 25 and still in undergrad, I’m certainly a lot less worried about it.
Your Professors are not out to get you.
I found out, just before leaving to go to the New River Gorge with Kathy Karlo, that I had never turned in my final project. I was baffled. I remembered turning it in, hitting all the right buttons on the website to submit it, but it was not there– had, in fact, never been there. Panicking, I called my mom who suggested I try to reach out to the professor to see if anything could be done, despite a month already passing between then and the due date. I didn’t send it. I waited, convinced that I had no excuse and that I deserved no sympathy for simply being stressed. No one had died, I wasn’t ill, I just had paid enough attention and was too scared that he was going to fail me for lazy essay writing that I had bothered to check to see if it had all worked out. Several days ago I did email him. I sat trying not to cry (as I often do during stressful situations) sending an email admitting to a mistake I was baffled I had made, one that could set me back in my college career. When the professor emailed me back only a few hours later I almost started crying all over again. He reminded me that he wanted his students to succeed, that he had no malicious desire to keep me from graduating (oh hey there insecurities that I can’t do college). While this is certainly not a guarantee and I still have no idea if he’ll be able to alter my grade at all, the reminder that even people in authority positions are still people, they can be nice and understanding, even if their syllabus makes them sound scary and inhuman.
Get scared and try new things.
Being scared on the top of a thin mountain ridge was a moment where I felt incredibly stupid. I had no reason to be scared. I trust my boyfriend to keep me safe and I know that I am often much stronger than I let myself be. When our trip through the North East ended, I felt disappointed in myself. I felt foolish and over the top in all of my emotions. When Kathy invited me to go back to the New River Gorge it came with the opportunity to grab some footage over her climbing and swimming for Arȇt Basewear. While filming it I felt like Bob Belcher from Bob’s Burgers trying to film the kids’ plays. I would periodically bump the camera, my tripod panning lever would stick, and at one point a friend of ours had to protect the camera from three dogs that were determined to walk in front of it. I was nervous for them to see the footage but the more excited and creative I got about the project the more I wanted to keep doing it. Filming was the not so new thing that I tried. So, how did I get scared? I led my first route outside in over a year. It was an easy little unknown 5.7, recommended to me by another woman that was there. Getting to the first bolt I was terrified and by the time I was at the top I wasn’t thinking at all about how far away I was from the first bolt. I was happily humming ABBA songs to myself and laughing at the memory of myself trying to clip an imaginary bolt at some point during the route. The lack of fear at the top was refreshing– inspiring even, it gave me confidence not just in my abilities for climbing, but in doing this whole filming and school thing.
Do not wait for your S.O. to go on adventures.
This year I have gone to many amazing places; most of them without my boyfriend. My spring break trip to Las Vegas was the longest climbing trip I had gone on without him and as much as I love him, it was good to know that I can do these things on my own. I can top-out ten boulders in a day, I can make myself try a 5.12 crack route, I can book a plane ticket with some girlfriends to go to Squamish in August, again without him. The truth is, unless I get over my serious fear of heights I somehow developed between climbing in Yosemite and freaking out in the Shawangunks, it might be more fun for the both of us to go and have our own adventures, do the things we love and call each other as soon as possible to describe in great detail all the things we did. I’d still like to work on my fears, but it requires time and it’s something I would absolutely like to do with him more than anyone else, but I will not let that stop me from climbing and going on my own amazing adventures. There are so many places in the world I want to see and photograph, if I wait for my boyfriend and I’s schedules to line up, I’ll never get to see any of it (and he’ll probably still go see all of it).
Maybe my odd appreciation for Rupert Holmes’ “Escape” is a weird way for the universe to tell me that I’m ready to leave Atlanta. Ready to move on with my life, embrace this whole writing and photography thing, and stop stressing out over how I’m going to find time to climb, do homework, snuggle my boyfriend (Constantly. Constant snugs.), and play the Sims 4 while half heartedly watching bad TV. It’s probably just that I like bad music that I can scream in my car at 5:30 in the morning.