Turning 21: Getting Drunk on Existential Dread

I want to use this column to discuss what it’s been like to be me for the last two decades. On Friday, shortly after this has been published and I win the Pulitzer, I’ll have reached 21 years of age and I’ll obviously be full of newfound wisdom and sagaciousness. I want to impart upon all readers how to become such a show-stopping success. 

I’ve always wanted to come across as uninviting and inaccessible, so I’ve clouded my vocabulary with unnecessarily big words in order to hide behind my pseudo-intelligence and prevent true connection from ever occurring. I’m standoffish and cold and I hate people, and this makes me seem smart and out of your league.

I possess the ability to entice and arouse irony on a whim, so people can never tell if I’m kidding.

To hone in on my craft, I make sure to write as little as possible. I save my bouts of writing for when I feel like doing so, and I never concentrate or stop procrastinating. This makes the writing I actually do seem much better.

I trained my calves to grow until I reached over 6 feet tall, in order to present menacingly in all spaces.

I never speak, or laugh, or cry or sh*t. I do not possess any bodily functions. I am subhuman and ethereal all at once.

I am also very f*cking stupid. 

Okay I’ll stop being a jerk. In case you can’t tell; I’m kind of terrified and kind of excited to turn 21 and feel like a grown up. I’m avoiding the topic in a last ditch effort to turn the tides on aging. However, I can’t stop it from happening so I have no choice but to embrace it. 

Being 21 years old seems exciting because I can legally drink and that’s about it. I’ve never had a sip of alcohol before so that should be very invigorating and eye-opening.

But really, I can’t think of any other reasons to be excited for 21.     A terrifying realization occurred to me the other night: that everything in my life is dependent on everything else right now in a way it hasn’t ever been before. I’ll elaborate.

Currently, I reside in New Paltz. I am finishing my undergraduate degree. I have friends and happiness and things are generally okay. However, in a few short months, life is going to come at me fast. I want to go to grad school, and I want to pursue theatre because it makes me happier than anything else I’ve ever studied. But grad school is entirely dependent on getting in. 

I desperately want to move back to New York City, but that is entirely dependent on getting into grad school in New York City, finding a place to live in New York City and getting a job to afford a place to live in New York City.

A lot of people have the option and privilege of moving back in with their parents post-undergrad, but that’s a luxury I do not have. In order to reach the things I want, they all have to go smoothly. I have to build this house of cards just right or else the whole operation will collapse.

There’s always been a safety net before that has now slowly, yet all at once evaporated. I am hyper aware that every decision I make has a real impact on the future. Every minute I’m late on an assignment, my grade goes down, my GPA drops, my chance of grad school slips away and I’m genuinely stuck in a situation I have no foreseeable way out of.

Also, spending money to study theatre scares me because I had it pounded into my head that I’d never make a living wage doing it. It took all my strength and a lot of luck to even muster up the courage to make it my minor. 

While I do have a great job in theatre right now, I can’t help but feel riddled with imposter syndrome and fear. What if I’m a fluke? What if it’s true that I’ll never get a job in the field I love?

These are the existential questions keeping me up at night. There is no happy ending to this column because I am actively in the middle of the crisis with, as far as I can see, no way out. I sense a vague warm light at the end of this tunnel, which I worry is actually just the burning coal of my passions running out of fuel. 

I guess we will see. Check in a year from now and see If I’m in New York City or if I’m living under a rock. 

Madalyn Alfonso
About Madalyn Alfonso 85 Articles
Madalyn Alfonso is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Theatre. This is her sixth semester on The Oracle. Previously, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor. She loves writing any and every thing she can for the Oracle, whether it be a hilarious Top Ten or a thought-provoking Culture Critique. She hopes you all love reading the Oracle!