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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

Opinion: The dilemma of a twenty-something-year-old

Photo by Graphic by Ana Sofia Sloane

 Ever felt a nagging suspicion that you may have chosen the wrong degree or career plan? Opinion writer @anasofiasloane says you’re not alone, and argues that this uncertainty is okay. In fact, it’s something we should embrace.

Alongside pool days, family time and persistent boredom, this summer vacation has uncovered a humbling realization: I don’t really know what I’m doing.

Though I’m an incoming junior, my high school credits shortened my college journey to a hasty three years. Thus, just as I was adjusting to the Aggie lifestyle, this year will be my last. Due to this hair-raising reality, these past few months were meant to be devoted to graduate school research and applications.

Yet here I am, mid-July, with a pathetically bare “Master’s Programs” Google spreadsheet and a vision of my future that is anything but concrete. Instead, a million different possibilities crowd my mind in a frenzied whirlwind of “maybes” and “what ifs.”

Surprisingly, this upheaval of life plans hasn’t led to full-blown panic and mental breakdowns — yet. Instead, I’ve taken a step back to reevaluate: How many of my goals are a reflection of who I want to be? Which ones are simply an outcome of what I think needs to be done? Is life supposed to follow a strictly planned path?

Call it a quarter-life crisis, if you will.

The most challenging aspect of these daunting questions is the confidence that seems to surround me. My friends all have board game-like layouts for their lives and careers. Every course, goal and marker is set in stone — get a degree, attend professional school, get a job, retire early.

Start, move forward, finish.

Left behind in the dust kicked up by this furious march forward, I find myself longing for the security these aspiring doctors, lawyers and engineers are gifted with. Is purposeful clarity a privilege only reserved for select twenty-something-year-olds? Where can I acquire such a thing?

Recently, however, an important and simple truth remains in my mind … That’s all I am, they were, we are. Twenty-something-year-olds.

I was eighteen two years ago, fifteen five years ago. In second grade, I dreamed of becoming a scientist-princess. In seventh grade, I decided I’d fly away to France and attend Le Cordon Bleu to become a professional chef. In tenth grade, my goal was to become a social worker or therapist to help people through their troubles. Applying to college, I envisioned myself working at Capitol Hill and exploring the politics of our world.

One of the only constant things in my future thus far has been the ability to dream and change my mind. To explore different paths and be uncertain. To feel excited for what comes next, no matter what it may be. To evolve.

What’s the rush to have it all figured out at every turn when each year of our lives brings new experiences, situations and lessons?

Though each of these redirections may not have translated to a future career, each has played a role in the version of myself that exists today. The eight-year-old-me obsessed with the human muscular system, insect habitats and space still lives, present in my wonder for the night sky and wildlife. I love to bake and find good recipes, an homage to my Cordon-Bleu dreams.

Joining the Peace Corps is at the top of my bucket list, honoring the values I upheld my junior year.

If I had shut out all extraneous interests and possibilities just to have my mind made up on one thing, a different person would be typing away at this keyboard.

Undoubtedly, knowing is great — With it comes a mission and clear-cut goals. However, the journey toward such determination shouldn’t be disregarded. There is freedom in not knowing. It’s during this time that we ask big questions, open new doors and explore overlooked possibilities.

This time last year, I thought I’d be working on master’s program applications to various east coast schools. Instead, I’m realizing that diving head-first into a grueling thesis about a field I’ve only studied for three years may not be the wisest idea. Perhaps the Peace Corps comes next, or an internship, or work.

So, even if you think you know, I urge you to reconsider for a moment. Is this truly where you want or feel ready to be?

As twenty-something-year-olds, the weight of the world often rests upon our shoulders to have it all figured out. However, the beauty of life and standing at the doorstep of adulthood is the undeniable freedom to change.

If there is anything to be certain about, it is the power and potential of uncertainty.

Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science senior and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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Ana Sofia Sloane
Ana Sofia Sloane, Associate Opinion Editor
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