Things I Learned on a Walk With the Engineer Bois While Having a Nervous Breakdown™

A few times I also tried to literally run away from my problems by taking off unexpectedly but ultimately was stopped by the fact that I haven’t done a cardio workout since 2016.

by Sonya Anufriyenko


Even right now, I should be studying for math. Or Chemistry. Or finishing my Engineering SolidWorks Application. So maybe I didn’t learn that much. But I did have an interesting experience that may be relatable or amusing so I’m going to share.

It started at 9:33 pm on Monday, February 26th after I finished my nightly call with my mom. The past week I had stomach flu, (nasty, I know) and was now even more behind than usual. Which, for an engineering student, is to say too much to even begin thinking about. My mom mentioned during the call that she was glad I was no longer having a crisis about whether I wanted to be a doctor. This was actually coincidentally the third time someone mentioned this to me that day despite the fact that my so called existential crisis was in November. Little did I know that it was foreshadowing for the start of “Existential Crisis Part Two: More Angst and Confusion but This Time No Crying."

Immediately after hanging up on the phone out of curiosity I looked up the median salary of a mechanical engineer. Listed in bold type- $90,000.

“Nice” would be the reaction of most people.

I panicked the FUCK OUT.

A little about me- my entire personality/self-identity comes down to about like maybe sevenish (I’m not going to count) things; I like peach iced tea, the arts, flowers, pirates,the mafia, watching figure skating, and being obsessed with fashion and expensive clothes I can’t afford. Well, in my mind, expensive clothes I can’t afford yet. Oh, and my want to be a sugar daddy one day. Well looking at the $90,000 dollar median salary, I wouldn’t be able to even to afford my expensive clothes, much less someone else’s gifts. Unrealistic? I mean yeah probably but in my mind this is a set plan, y’all.

For some background, I come from about the most middle class family you can imagine. By no societal standards am I rich or was raised to think money buys happiness. My ideals all stem purely from reading way too many mafia and pirate stories growing up that were way too influential on young Sonya. Also, I thought engineers earn a median $300,000 salary. I’m not sure where I heard this figure but I really had it cemented in my mind.

So, back to the panicking. Immediately I ran out of my room and down the hall to grab my friend Danny, also in engineering, figuring he would understand. At that point I was mostly just shouting “It’s a crisis Daniel!” over and over and luckily he followed without really questioning what was going on or why I was making him follow me. I then proceeded to run down 6 flights of stairs just screaming, and only on floor six did I begin to explain why I was panicking.

Danny didn’t really seem too concerned that we would only be making $90,000 even including nights with no sleep and a course load that generally made no sense and could be considered cruel and unusual punishment. Then again, Danny is very go with the flow. I then proceeded to panic and continue yelling down the next six flights of stairs to the first floor, when Danny finally recommended we go on a walk. Thus we took the elevator back up to thw twelfth floor, and texted the third engineering boi in our friend group, Mitch, to come. I’m including a picture of the texts I sent him.

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I was being pretty selfish, but shoutout to both Danny and Mitch for dropping everything to help me. By this time I was sitting on the counter in the lobby rocking back and forth, so Mitch dropped off his stuff behind the counter and we left quickly out of the dorm. The second I stepped foot outside at the top of my lungs I remember yelling out “I’M THROWING MY LIFE AWAY AND SO ARE YOU GUYS,” probably worrying the masses of people nearby just trying to get home or to the library in peace.
I explained my crisis to Danny and Mitch, once again hitting the key points: no money, no being a sugar daddy, time to just take the big sleep, etc. Multiple times I also yelled out that we’re median people, and thus doomed to the median salary. In hindsight it’s extremely lucky that they didn't’t take offence. From that point, Danny kind of navigated where we would go and Mitch tried to say inspirational things to help me feel better.

We ended up going to the top of Thompson to the last window behind the elevators where I stood with my forehead against the cold glass (sorry to anyone there who wants to study and sees the marks) while Mitch explained that my life and career could go as far as I would take it, and that my job didn’t have to be the only source of income, which I had him explain more once I calmed down. I on the other hand suggested I take everything in my bank account and my student loans to defect the three of us to the south to start a cocaine business. I made an entire plan that only came crashing down when I remembered I don’t have a green thumb.

Looking at each other and agreeing that I still needed more fresh air, we went towards Rez on Tenth. A few times I also tried to literally run away from my problems by taking off unexpectedly but ultimately was stopped by the fact that I haven’t done a cardio workout since 2016. We then walked around inside the Rez on Tenth, and at some point their words started getting through to me. Actually, right around when I was leaning on another cold pane, but this time a vending machine. Also once again, I’m sorry to whoever sees it.

They both had some important things to tell me, and to sum it up their insightful advice went as follows:

1. You are only a median person if you decide you are.
2. If you’re truly worried about money, invest in startups, real estate, or start your own business.
3. If you want to be less than median, that’s okay too.
4. I know my interests, and ultimately pursuing them in addition to working hard is what makes life complete, not money.
I am not allowed to take the big sleep.

Honestly, a normal person would read this and see it as great advice. The influence of the mafia stories do run intensely from my soul, but their words do make me feel better and make me want to work hard. I also realized I have some pretty awesome friends who were willing to drop what they were doing and spend almost two hours helping me calm down, and I hope one day I can help be there for them like that. Or they can each take a kidney, whichever happens first. In addition to that, I’m now considering becoming a patent lawyer.

Sonya Anufriyenko is host to Jewish Gold on AROUSE Sundays from 10a-11a.