The existential crisis that hits all of us between 9 and 12 on Sunday nights deserve some conversation. I think what I want to say, if nothing else, is that the 9-12 existential crisis is the most valuable, radically debilitating, part of our humanity. I’m one of those people who thrive on the chasm between who I am and who I want to be. The idea that my life isn’t measured by assignments and grades, but rather how hard I’m working to build a bridge between Point A and Point B, is liberating as fuck.
I attribute my love of bridge building to taking a break from Duke entirely. For nearly a year, I looked at Duke (and a few other assholes) as the bane to my bridge-building existence. But look at me go– attending a school I once hated and co-existing with people I (still) despise.
My 9 to 12 crisis is my reminder of the reasons I’m here.
For me, Duke has never been a place where I’ve dreamed of coming, or where I’ve vowed to cure cancer and reinvent the wheel. Duke is simply a stepping-stone; the catalyst I’ve selected for the rest of my life. I see Duke as a fleeting reality, as eight semesters that I get to do whatever I want with.
When I accept these facts – this temporality – I realize that I get to choose Duke.
I get to choose research, and public policy, and sororities, and regrettable drunk decisions. Everyday, I get to choose the way I navigate the endless opportunities that surround me. I’m choosing Duke with every piece of my existence. Unlike two years ago, I’m choosing Duke with invaluable information about Point A, Point B, and the ambiguous bridge between them. Before I chose public policy and sororities, I did something so radical, so extraordinarily simple, and so incredibly attainable: I chose me.
I emptied my closet, took down some posters, and tactfully compartmentalized any aspiration, hope, or desire that had crossed my mind over the last eighteen years. Shortly thereafter, I spent my days farming, planting, and laboring on a farm in rural Alaska. A free plane ticket across the Atlantic put me in Germany for the next few months, leaving me to interpret one of the most peculiar languages I’ve ever heard. While you took classes, stressed about exams, and attended mixers/WNS last spring, I (not kidding) reevaluated everything in my life I deemed to be true, worthwhile, and/or valuable. I didn’t know human beings had the capacity to feel some of the emotions I felt. I didn’t know I could simultaneously feel limitless, sheltered, and so incredibly lost.
And no, it wasn’t a “not all who wander are lost” type of feeling. It’s this intangible, unfathomable, absolute mind-fuck of a feeling that neither I, nor any literature I’ve come across, have successfully described. Yet, the feeling is so palpable, so real, and so incredibly my own.
In the future, I’m sure you’ll be torn between a job offer and a lover, or unbound adventure and the sense of family and familiarity. But when you choose the job, or the lover, or even the adventure, remember you’re choosing something. You have that ability to choose. And on Sunday at 8:45, when you dread the impending existential crisis, remind yourself of your power in shaping this reality. Notice who you are and who you’d like to be. Remember that you can choose. Keep building that goddamn bridge because I promise it’ll get you somewhere. Choose love, choose heartbreak, choose happiness, and choose solitude. But please, at one point in your life, choose you.
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