College is weird.
It’s a place where we are meant to learn, grow, and find ourselves — but the idea of enlightenment can seem very far away when you share a bathroom with 50 girls and struggle to find actual vegetables in the dining hall.
I spent the first 17 years of my life trying to get into college. And now I’m here, and half the time I’m feeling it and the other half I’m trying to make a run for it.
The thing is, American culture does us a great disservice by putting college on a pedestal. University is championed as the best time of our lives. So if you don’t feel like you’re having the best time of your life, you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with you. Or worse: what if this is as good as it gets?
College is hard. You’re away from home and with it goes all the comfort, love and support it provides. You have so many essays to write, homework to do, projects to complete. You crumble a little. It’s enough to make even the calmest of people come unhinged.
The stress of balancing work and extracurriculars and friends and studying and sleep and exercise all pile on top of each other into one mammoth, crooked mountain. Then that teetering mountain gets higher when you apply for internships and scholarships, until you have to hold your breath so it doesn’t all collapse.
College put you under that mountain in the first place, but college can also teach you how to survive under all the pressure and to not only crawl out on the other side, but how to fly. College can suck. It’s okay— you can say it. Feel it in your bones, revel in it, shout it to the world!
Everyone feels anxious and sad and lost sometimes. It is a part of life, a part of growing up. The danger is if you start comparing your college experience to others. And I know — this is easier said than done. When you scroll through Instagram and all your friends look like they’re having the time of their lives, the feed dampens your spirit. The trick is to let it all go and realize that this picture is just a snapshot of a moment and not a portrait of a life.
College isn’t all bad. It is where we meet lifelong friends, discover our independence, and make fantastic memories. It is where we learn what we’re made of — and the road to learning this is not easy. You’ll encounter fear and loneliness and insecurity, but you’ll also encounter confidence and joy.
College, as in life, is about finding happiness in the little moments. So bake some sinful chocolate chip cookies. Be fiery as hell and wear high heels to class. Go to Pilates, jam to the “Mulan” soundtrack or have a cozy movie night with friends. Do whatever puts a swagger in your step and a spark in your smile. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or sad, step back and think of the things that you make happy: the ocean, the sun slanting through trees, Netflix.
College will never live up to the hype in our heads, and it is never going to be perfect. Perfect is boring, anyway. The imperfections in our life are what make us human and honest.
So find risks to take! Try out 50 organizations until you find the one you love. I haven’t found mine yet, but it’s out there, and I’m going to find it.
In the meantime, I’ll have the time of my life dancing crazily around the dorm with my roommate, laughing with my friends until my stomach hurts, and being young and silly with the people I’ve met here who are so special to me. Because if there is one thing I know, it’s that you will have a fulfilling life if you surround yourself with people you love. So forget about that reading for a bit and get into some shenanigans with your friends.
That will be what makes college worthwhile.