Just Breathe and Drink Some Coffee: How to survive a junior year crisis

With only a few more weeks left before finals, I thought that now is as good a time as ever to talk about the ups and downs of junior year. For all the juniors or seniors reading this, feel free to weigh in on what I have to say with your own experiences and opinions. For any freshmen and sophomores reading this, JUST YOU WAIT. No, honestly, don’t be afraid…just be a little frayed. If I’ve learned anything from junior year so far, it’s that puns are great. And common hour should be moved back to Fridays.

Let’s flash back to the beginning of the semester: September was unusually warm, and it wasn’t until I bought a double window fan that I felt I might have a chance at surviving this semester. Then, classes started, and it was back to creating a one-task checklist every day that read “Survive.” Every night before going to sleep, I was elated to put a check in that box. If I accomplished anything else, it felt like I had won a silver medal at the Olympics. Or a Teen Choice Award.

Okay, I’m being a tad hyperbolic. Junior year isn’t that terrible. But here’s some advice: never take three or more classes in one day. In terms of maintaining sanity, a well-spread, balanced schedule is so much better than a condensed schedule. While you’re registering for classes, it might seem like a fantastic idea to get all of your classes over within a few days, but no. Just no. Don’t do it. You will regret it.

I should have started junior year being a little more skeptical. I should have remembered how awful and time-consuming and stressful and chaotic junior year was in high school. It was the “Most Important Year” and the “Year That Colleges Will Scrutinize.” It was cray. So is this junior year in college, or at least fall semester. I can’t speak for spring semester because I am not a Time Lord or a psychic. But fall semester: rough. Why is that? I have been asking myself this question for three months.

Here are some of my speculations: classes are more difficult because they are upper level, and I am double-majoring in the humanities, which means reading and writing and reading and writing and reading and some more reading and then some more reading and did I mention writing? Not to say that people majoring in math or science don’t have it tough. They are majoring in math or science, which is both baffling and terrifying. Have you heard of Orgo? I can’t even.

Junior year marks the mid-way point of college, which means mid-college crisis time. That’s a real thing, according to the Internet. More than half of our college careers are over; we have three more semesters until graduation…what? Freshman orientation feels simultaneously like it was last week and seven years ago. Living at college feels like I’m stuck in some kind of vortex; I have lost all sense of time. My body reminds me daily that there’s this thing called “sleep,” and that it’s kind of necessary for my survival. I’ve been holding off for years because the lingo confuses me, but perhaps it’s time that I introduce coffee into my diet. First, I need to learn the difference between a latte and a tall, half-skinny, half-one-percent extra-shot, split quad shot latte with whip. There’s an online translator for that, right?

Now is the time when juniors are thinking about CELS internships and are wondering if we should go to grad school right away, or live a little and have a career, or maybe do both. Our senior friends slam their mugs down at Harris and say things like, “Really? You’re freaking out, right now? I have one semester left until graduation.” The juniors shudder and wonder how they have time to write their theses, take classes and interview for jobs without losing their minds and pooling their money to buy a Starbucks franchise. The sophomores watch these interactions, but they’re focused on different things like PICA, CISLA, studying abroad and wondering how to sneak their cars up to upper campus when they’ve been assigned to lower campus. And don’t ask me about freshmen; they are so young and wide-eyed and excited about everything all the time. How I envy them.

Junior year is peculiar for other reasons: half of my friends are studying abroad now and the other half will be in the spring. The scheduled Facebook chats, Skype dates and abroad blogs are all sufficient, but are not a replacement for actual face-to-face communication. Harris now has a breakfast bar every Tuesday, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I would much prefer that an IHOP move next to the Crystal Mall or that a Panera move somewhere on campus — how about the 1941 room? And if this year weren’t ridiculous enough, we had a hurricane at the end of October, continuing the tradition of freak storms on Halloween. #GlobalWarmingIsReal(lyTerrifying).

So how do we cope with all the change and chaos and confusion? Friends and family are great resources. They provide shoulders to cry on and will usually pick up their phones at any hour to listen to a rant or breakdown. Counseling services is also an option. It’s free, and the counselors get paid to listen to you complain about your life, and they don’t/can’t/aren’t allowed to judge you. Safe space! The best coping device, however, is karaoke. It’s a great way to blow off steam and practice your Spice Girls or Taylor Swift. Speaking of which, has anyone listened to Red, yet? Because I think T-Swizzle is having her own quarter-life crisis.

Being a junior isn’t all that bad. I can park my car on upper campus as opposed to the AC this year. As juniors, we’re old enough to know that Cro dances are awful, but we justify going every weekend by claiming we’re being “ironic” and just want to check out the scene and see who’s going…yeah, okay; stop lying. We’re also closer to first pick on registering for classes, and we will be first pick for housing in the spring. Look at all the minimal positives I’m listing to make myself feel better.

But seriously, for anyone feeling overwhelmed this year (no matter your grade), just remember to breathe, listen to some new One Direction hits and have a little fun amidst all the studying and stressing and shaking. Enjoy the rest of the semester and good luck on finals. And for the record, if the world does end in December, I’m going to be so angry.