Squeezed in the middle

The great third-year conundrum

Fact of life: the Freshman 15 is a myth. I actually do not believe it’s humanly possible to gain weight while eating at the dining hall unless you live on fries alone. I became a brief vegetarian and essentially went on the raw diet due to a refusal to eat anything warmed by a heat lamp.

Reality hits about one-third of the way into your second year, when you come to the conclusion life outside of O’Hill consists of cheesy bread and midnight dumpling runs. Welcome to the sophomore slump, second-years.

And now, in the third year of my college career and the beginning of the third decade of my life, hits another kind of reality: the mid-college life crisis. It’s a slap in the face that goes a little beyond the fact you’re just now realizing you don’t have “Jessica Alba’s body, Kate Middleton’s poise [and] Jennifer Lawrence’s cool factor,” to quote a fellow columnist.

What started happening this year was that — to put it bluntly — shit got real.

I have lost about 25 percent of my friends to the Commerce School, where they now eat, sleep and worship the Dow Jones. I myself spent a football Saturday in Alderman, where I stayed so long filling out job applications, tweaking my resume and simultaneously attempting to do homework that I actually got locked in.

My extracurricular activities number so high I literally do not have time to go to the AFC and work out anytime between Monday and Friday. I think I’ve been on the Atkins diet for about nine months to combat this. At least I’ve been telling myself that — it’s not working very well, in case you were wondering.

I don’t really sleep any more because I am either too hyped on caffeine, too stressed about how much I have to do or using the time I should be sleeping to do something for myself.

But these are not life changes exclusive to myself. The panic of being halfway through college lives in each third-year to some extent. No, we’re not living through the panic of the unemployed fourth-year yet, but we’re not living the second-year fairytale bliss either.

We’re too old for fraternity parties but too young for bars. We’re burnt out on coursework but nowhere near graduation. We’re ready for new adventures but not ready to leave Charlottesville. Most accurately, we’re that awkward middle child that is too old to sit at the kids’ table but not quite sophisticated enough to play with the big guys.

As the oldest in my family, this is a foreign place for me. But it’s not necessarily a bad place to be either.

I have grown particularly fond of the Buddhist concept of “radical acceptance” over the past few weeks. It’s the idea of accepting our life experiences and who we are at the moment. It’s not judging yourself or criticizing yourself, but learning, in a way, to be your own best friend.

I apologize for getting a bit granola, but the fact of the matter is most of us really are our own worst enemies. I’m not really sure how we can expect others to love us or care about us when we can’t do the same for ourselves.

You should make an effort to show yourself love like you would for anyone else in your life. Ultimately, most of the things we do in college for our “future” don’t make us particularly happy. Happiness comes from doing what you love to do, not what you have to do.

This is my challenge to you: grab a friend, a large cheesy bread (with extra ranch), a bottle of wine and go waste your day away. Because, if you twist things just right, it’s almost Friday.

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