Logical lunacy: from existential crisis to self-actualization

Kendall McElhaney

Kendall McElhaney

Have you ever found yourself riddled with an existential crisis? Keeled over in internal agony because your potential to change the world is too big and seemingly impossible to achieve? Have you ever skipped a class to roll around on the floor and question all the mistakes you made in eighth grade? Have you ever eaten a bowl of mac and cheese in the bathtub in full colonial garb? If so, then the stress of higher education has probably gotten to you.

We are conditioned to believe that college is the answer to life’s most difficult question: When will Jesse McCartney drop another album and where do I pre-order it? Wait, no, that’s the most important question in my dream journal. Life’s most important question is: What is my purpose and where do I fit among my kin?


With this in mind, it is important to point out that, unfortunately, there is no right answer. Unless you are Noah McCullough, a boy I went to elementary school with who went on “Conan” when he was 10 because he knew all the presidents’ birthdays. Real talk: Noah knew his purpose and he followed his dream. And he wrote two books, but who’s counting?

However, some of us other peasants are not as lucky.

I could offer you a funny story about how I struggled with finding out where I fit in this world, but I would rather not talk about my morning before I have had a cup of coffee. The truth is that life is a never-ending journey of questions and self-examinations.

The best way I can advise you to follow your dreams is actually just a three-step process.

First, think of what you would want to do if money was no option. The first thing that pops into your head is your passion, or at least that’s what my fortune cookie from Panda Express told me last week.  Take that passion and run, run as far and as wide as you can without snapping a heel.

Secondly, take off your heels. No one has time for that. Life is too short to not wear FiveFinger shoes and chase your dreams aerodynamically. Take pride in yourself and express yourself however you see fit. College is a time to figure yourself out and the process of doing that is what makes this time of stress and one-night stands that went wrong worthwhile. Don’t feel bogged down by all the choices you could take to fulfill your destiny. Instead, just make a choice and stick to it.

Lastly, take time for yourself. We all have the amazing opportunity to meet and collaborate with beautiful, intelligent people on this campus, but remember at the end of the day that you are all you’ve got. If you become too dependent on other people, you might find yourself standing on a rock on Horsetooth Mountain screaming “WHO AM I?” in a nightgown. And that should strictly only happen every three months.

Regardless of what path you are on right now, remember that the journey is half the battle. Everyone around you is fighting the same struggle of self-worth and measurable success. Be kind to each other and hug strangers when you have consent. And above all else, call your mother when you are feeling down. Reach out to others that lift you up to remind you of how far you’ve come, and try your best to lift others up when they reach out to you.

Finally, do not forget to find the enjoyment in this process. Everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to be, and you’ll make some memories along the way.

Collegian Columnist Kendall McElhaney doesn’t even go here. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com, or on Twitter @kendallaftrdark.