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For most men, there comes a time in their lives where they near middle-age, look back on their lives, and say to themselves “shit, I’m already 40 years old and have nothing to show for it.” Most likely this includes that guy’s kids. This guy is in a dark place. Fortunately for us in the Greek community, we know that these people probably won’t be us, but rather some middle-management drones. Most likely we’ll be looking back 20 years from now and thinking “shit, I’m only 40, look how far I’ve come.” However, just because we know damn well that we are going to be successful later on, does not mean that we are free from looking back on our lives and having what some might call a crisis. The problem with our “crises” is that we started walking, talking, dressing, and drinking like we were 40 when we neared the end of 18. So naturally, instead of having a midlife breakdown when our hair turns silver, some have quarter life benders around the ages of 21/22.
It happens to nearly everyone at one point in college. They wake up, look in the mirror, and realize that they are rounding the final turn of what has most certainly been the greatest experience of their young lives. For those of you who have just started your careers in fratting, keep it up. For a while nothing should matter but shaking hands, slamming booze, and smacking ass. You can go to class when you’re dead… or something, I forget how that saying goes. But when you get to your junior year, you start to realize that you are halfway done with a part of your life you’ll literally never get to experience again. When the stiffs who never really experienced college to its fullest potential have this moment of clarity, they are middle-aged and see death on the other side of all of their missed opportunities. When we have this same moment, we are in the glory of our late adolescence. Our bodies are able and ready; we see graduation and a brand new set of responsibilities in front of us.
The two may not seem comparable, but trust me, mentioning graduation to any upperclassmen is enough to make them grab a stiff drink and contemplate their life choices. It’s about as bad of a move as showing your spring break pictures to a group of recovering alcoholics. Our responses to these “oh shit I’m getting…old” moments are very similar to the flunkies who managed to only make it up halfway the corporate ladder, just with a little more oomph. Where your run of the mill, white-collar guy drops his wife for a 20-year-old blonde bombshell, Greeks in quarter-life crises drop their 20-year-old blonde bombshell girlfriends for a smorgasbord of freshmen coming up for early term in the summer. When a mediocre businessman decides to blow his nest-egg wad on a leased sports car to validate his existence, we spend enough money on weekend bar-tabs to send his unsuccessful ass on a flight to Bali. Would WE ever go to Bali? Well…maybe…but first preference would be NOLA with a bigger stack to blow on hand-grenades and hurricanes.
Can anyone really blame us for those types of reactions? We live our four (or five… or six) years to excess. The end, no matter how long you delay it, still sort of sneaks up on you. One minute a guy is worried about which girl he should bring on formal, the next he’s contemplating what in the hell he’s going to do with his life. That transition from happy, frivolous thought to heavy “life stuff” can make even the most level headed of your brothers dive to the bottom of a bottle faster than you can say “nine to five.”
You may be totally positive about the future and look forward to that corner office in the sky, but the fact remains we all know our collegiate clock is ticking. Even with finals, we can still easily say “fuck it” one more night and go out with the boys instead of spending a few more hours studying. Unfortunately this lifestyle, like all glory, is fleeting. We’ll still be able to raise a little hell here and there and punch keys into shitty beers once we pass on to bigger and better, but it will never be with the same frequency or intensity. More importantly, it will never be with all your best friends in the same place. Until this point of realization, we all live like young kings in old castles, partying and improving on a foundation already well established. But when the end comes into view, we all know we are going to have to build our own castle and forge the keys to our own kingdoms. You can skip a night at the library now, but you can’t drop the class of life. Every graduating senior knows that once their time comes they are going to be on the grind harder than a pre-med cranking study pills before orgo. Don’t let this fact trouble you now, younger brothers, just know that when you see a senior with drink in hand and a million mile gaze at the bar tonight, he’s drinking for a couple more reasons than celebration of time well spent. Buy him a round, honor his time, continue to live your life to the absolute capacity, and frat the fuck on.