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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

Quarterly report

My 10-year high-school reunion is coming up this summer, and I’m a bit nervous. Not that I’m doing well in the scheme of things, really. “Grad student” might not be as exciting of a job as “rock star” (or, OK, a lot of things) but it certainly beats “cubicle drone.” \nI’m balder, but also, believe it or not, fitter – and certainly better groomed. I’ve traveled quite a bit, had a fair number of adventures and made a lot of good friends. I’m not married and don’t have any kids – but, on the plus side, I’m not married and don’t have any kids. Best of all, I got out of the town I grew up in (as much as I love it) and I’m not living with my parents (as much as I love them). Still, I can’t shake a concern about whether I’ll measure up once I enter that high-school gymnasium to the sound of 90s pop hits. (I have no idea if this how it’ll actually go down – I’m just deferring to “Grosse Pointe Blank.”)\nBut I’m clearly not alone in this – the phenomenon has been dubbed “the quarter-life crisis,” and all you undergrads should know: It’s out to get you, too. The Boston Globe explained it thus: “there’s a phase of life – quarter-life – which, like adolescence and midlife, has its own set of challenges and characteristics. People get married later and have more transient careers than before. They are in debt longer, sometimes in school longer. The early to late 20s represents a time of extreme instability…” (Sept. 8, 2004). \nFor example, an American Sociological Association survey has found that far fewer 20-somethings have achieved the life “milestones” (such as financial independence, marriage, kids) than the baby boomers had by this point (ABC News, April 21, 2005). The result, said Damian Barr, a writer who’s researched the crisis, is that “the excitement of graduation fades. Real life sets in. And it’s expensive, ugly and competitive. We feel stressed, inadequate and somehow not quite as good as our peers. We feel poorer, less successful and less together” (The London Times, May 1, 2004).\nSo, what to do? In an MSN Encarta interview, authors Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner advise that 20-somethings forget worrying about the outward trappings of success or whether their lives are progressing according to some predetermined plan. That’s well and good – but might be better advice for you than it is for me (getting my bachelor’s from a small liberal-arts school, I was never able to count on working in my chosen field or becoming rich). \nYou should take the opportunity to make the most with what you’ve got – to do things that’ll give you plenty of stories to tell your old classmates when you see them and to only worry about making sure you’re happier, on balance, than not. That’s all.\nAlthough walking in with a hot girlfriend would be nice.

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