Editor's Note: Ask Eric is an advice column published every Tuesday. Anonymous questions are taken from this Google form. Questions are also taken both from The Collegian's Instagram, @thecollegianur, and via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I read through the questions this week, I find that there is a considerable amount of anxiety about the future. These anxieties can range from what to wear now that the weather is turning colder, to how to become a “real” adult. While I do plan to answer these questions individually, I would like to take a minute to address this overall anxious feeling.
First of all, it is okay to feel apprehensive. Many of us learn that feeling bad for ourselves somehow makes us “ungrateful” for all the good things we have. Although it is important to be grateful, being anxious about other matters does not make you a bad person. I know I can get myself so worked up trying to justify my being worried that I do not even address the actual problems. Life can be tough and it can be scary, but feeling that way does not mean everything needs to be consumed by those feelings. When we feel anxious, it is vital to treat those feelings seriously and give them their due attention. It is also important to remember the parts of life that do not cause stress -- take some time to do those things. The rest of life can wait for you. With that, let’s get to the questions.
Are you excited about “dressing weather?” What should I wear?
This question, to me, is an interesting question, as I switch freely from not caring at all about what I wear to wanting to show off my fashionista side. Truthfully, I spend most of the late fall and winter alternating between slightly different pairs of jeans, whatever shirt is closest to my hands at the moment and the same sweatshirt and coat.
When I am feeling particularly spicy, I might put on some khakis, a button-down and a pea coat. Simplicity is what I enjoy when it comes to clothes. If I were to advise on things to wear in general, I would suggest going for functionality first. It is going to be cold, and that thin coat that goes best with your shoes is not going to help cure your frostbite. After that, I would suggest an outfit that works as its constituent parts. You want to take off your coat and still look fabulous. So there you are, fashion advice from a man who has no fashion sense -- enjoy.
How to manage people’s expectations of what you should be doing post-grad, i.e., pressure from family, professors, friends about grad school, gap years, first jobs.
Well, if you are anything like me, you have been strategically lowering everyone’s expectations of you since middle school so that by this point, the fact that you even made it through college is impressive enough. But unless you have a time machine, this is probably not that helpful.
My philosophy usually revolves around the reality that once out of college, I am beholden to no one’s expectations but my own. Don’t get me wrong, I want to make my family and friends proud, but that is not as important as actually doing what I want to do. Your family and friends will also be supportive of what you want to do. I think it is more important to manage your own expectations. Do you want that job right now? Do you want many more years of school right now? Do you want to take a gap year? These are questions you need to answer for yourself before you can worry about what others think about them. Part of this next step in our lives is realizing that we control where it goes. You can either be afraid of it or jump in.
How do I make the change from college student to a real adult? Sincerely, A Concerned Senior.
I will be frank with you -- I am grappling with this question in my life at the moment as well. I cannot give any hard and fast rules at the moment, but I can try to provide some reassurance. First of all, you have been a “real” adult for a long time now. Going to college is a big part of this as it gives many of us our first experiences of absolute freedom. We may have older adults and parents looking out for us, but in college it is more than ever your responsibility of whether you fail or succeed. You have made it this far. You can go farther.
Although in my response to the last question I pointed out that it is up to you where your life goes, that does not mean you are in the process alone. Becoming a “real” adult does not mean everything from the past goes away. You still have friends and family who wish to see you make this transition as smoothly as possible. They may not be able to help you in the same ways that they used to, but they will try to help however they can. I believe that when you make the transition to a “real” adult, you will find that everyone else is just as confused as you are. That is okay, it is best to accept that life is not so serious, people rarely ever know precisely what they are doing and trying to be perfect is overrated. Let yourself stumble in this transition, let others catch you when you fall and never stop improving yourself, and I am sure we will all be okay.
I feel that I gave some surprisingly serious advice this week. Usually, I can find a way to make most things funny, but as fall turns to winter, I think we have all had too much time to think about our future. With thoughts of the future always comes anxiety about what it may bring. It is important to remember that you are not alone in these feelings. I don’t know what the future will bring. You don’t know what the future will bring. Nobody really knows what is going to happen. That is scary, but at the same time, exciting. We have endless possibilities in front of us, so let’s all agree to make the next step of our lives better than the last. Talk to you all again soon.
Contact columnist Eric Bossert at email@example.com.