The College Myth

“How’s college? Do you like it?”, asks every person I talk to.

“Yeah I really like it.” Is my usual response.

A true response would take way longer than the time they have and be much more personal than they wanted to know. The true answer is that most of the time it is great. It finally feels normal and I really like my classes and professors. But 15% of the time it straight up sucks. But no one wants to hear that college sucks. And if you are an optimist(like me) or a mathematician( not like me) my off-handed response of “really good” is an accurate average of my time away at school.

It’s widely said that a lot of a person’s personal growth and development happens during their college years. I don’t disagree. In my four months up at school, I know I have grown as an individual immensely.  Just like those growing pains and growth spurts that you had as a kid, but instead these are emotional growth spurts, both of which sometimes hurt a lot.

People also say “Oh you will make lifelong friends in college.” Or my favorite, “The friends you make now will be your bridesmaids later!” No one tells you that for a while you will feel like you have fake friends and half friends. No one tells you that if you go to a place where you don’t know a soul, that sometimes it gets lonely. They never say, “You will start to wonder if you smell funny before you actually feel as though you have a couple solid friends.”

I think this provides many people with a false expectation for what college will be like. For example, fireworks will not go off in the background when you first meet your roommate and you will not be instant best friends. I know that I was not at all aware of the sub-clauses in those general comments everyone makes about college.  I went into college thinking I would totally have it all together by day 10. Be involved, check. Make friends, check. Ace your classes, check. Grow, check. And by grow I do not mean in your waistline from the freshman 15, just to clarify.

Reality check: man was I mistaken. I never realized how much growing hurt. Being away from everyone I knew for close to 70 days, when I can’t think of a single time that I had spent without the presence of a familiar face before going to college, it hurt.  I missed dinner with my family, doing homework and hearing my parents talk as they were preparing dinner, sharing a room with my sister, good morning hugs from my mom, I missed all of home.  I missed the community of my small group, as I doubted that there was actually a single other Christian on the entire campus. I craved having someone with whom a look could be interpreted to speak 1000 words.

In the midst of this pain though, God always appeared. When I needed to meet another Christian on campus just to be reassured that they actually existed, in a totally random moment, I sat down next to one in a lecture. When it turned out that my dad had to fight a fire and couldn’t come to visit, two of my church friends from home to plan a trip to come visit. When I missed the companionship of my home friends, there was a friend waiting for me – I just needed to open my eyes and look around. God was always there in the pain of growing, and with his help I have grown with leaps and bounds.

I was also vastly unprepared for just exactly how long it would take to feel like I had really good friends. Even though I knew I was going somewhere where I wouldn’t know a soul, I thought, “It’s okay. I have already done this once before in high school when I went back to public school after homeschooling” what I failed to realize is that in high school I already knew some people. And they knew some people. So their friends became mutual friends and my friend circle expanded. In college it’s different. There is only one of me. I can only meet so many people and I can only spend quality getting to know you time with an even smaller number of people. I constantly have to remind myself to have grace with myself. Making friends takes a long time. Making best friends, let alone bridesmaid worthy friends, takes even longer. And in that long time, sometimes it gets a little lonely. But it’s okay. Everyone feels like that.

Give yourself grace, is what I have to keep reminding myself. Do you even remember how you made your last best friend? I know I can’t. Actually other than being nice, how does one make friends? I feel like it just happens naturally. Is there a point in time that marks the transition from friends to good friends to best friends? I think it all just takes time. It takes time to create the shared memories and inside jokes that come with a great friendship. It’s okay, friends will come with time. Hang in there.

I wrote this after first semester, and hesitated to put it up because it seemed really pessimistic, and that wasn’t what I wanted to portray-I knew it would get better, it was just slow going. Looking back on what I wrote after a full year under my belt, I still agree with what I was feeling, but I know it also gets better.  Second semester I found my people-friends I knew were friends.  I joined a sorority (though I never dreamed that I would), track season started, I found a home church, a bible study, and I became better friends with the people whom I had met during first semester.  I knew how to juggle school, laundry, feeding myself, and having a social life way better.  After two months of summer, though I am loving home, I miss my friends at school so much I almost wish school would start already just so I could see all my friends again.  Wholeheartedly, I can say that school is great and I am really enjoying it.

Jumping for joy because life is good, school is over, and its finally summer.
Jumping for joy because life is good, school is over, and its finally summer.

In conclusion, a note to all the incoming college freshman-have grace with yourself.  Realize its a big adjustment, and set your expectations accordingly. Have fun, and know that everything gets better after first semester.  And a note to everyone who says, “College is the best time of your life!”-be careful, you might be creating false expectations in a nervous freshman’s mind.  You might not remember the trials of the first couple weeks, because the good times have washed out all of those memories, but more than likely they were there.

An Open Letter to the Class of 2014

I don’t reblog a ton, but I stumbled upon this just after I submitted my early action applications and couldn’t help but reblog it.

“To the Class of 2014:

It’s been real.

Three years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I have no doubt that the fourth will go by just as quickly. In fact, November is fast approaching, and it will be gone before we know it. For those of us who have November deadlines, time seems to be working at an even faster pace. But don’t worry, you’ll get through it. Thousands of people have gone before us, and they’ve all gone though it. If they can do it, we, the Class of 2014, will surely be able to do it as well.

But while you’re in the midst of this process, a question that you’ve probably been asking yourself is, “What have I actually done in high school?” The college application season is tough, but the added possibility of feeling less than great when evaluating your accomplishments against those of your peers makes it all the more stressful. To that, I say let it be. You are who you are, and who you are is the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.

So what if you never started a club during your time in high school? If you were never a star varsity athlete? If you were never captain of your Mock Trial team? If you were never Prom King or Queen? If you were never that popular person on ASB? Be content with who you are. These past four years have been an experiment in learning, in socializing, and discovering who you are. Take what’s been given to you, and go with it.

The next four years after high school will be an experiment as equally challenging as that AP Chem lab where you would always get 1000% for your percent error, as equally challenging as that AP Physics test that you tried so hard to ace, but you just couldn’t do it. But unlike those labs and tests, it will be fun. Embrace what you have, don’t let it be a hindrance to what you can be. Remember this: the sum of your mistakes is not greater than the potential of your future.

We live in a world that’s driven by success. Success in academics, success in athletics, success in career, success in wealth, success in anything, really. It’s hard to not get caught up in this pursuit of success. However, always remember that your success can only be measured by yourself. The choices that you make, the possibilities that you pursue, the results that you obtain, they are all driven by what you, and you yourself, have chosen to do. Do what you want; don’t let others tell you what to do.

Some of us will go down in history, whether as politicians, actors, businessmen, criminals, or just as overall outstanding individuals. Most of us will not. Most of us will strive to be great, to be successful, to be known, but most of us will fall short of that. But once again, be content.

Be content in who you are, but be proud of this amazing group that you come from. You are greater, you are stronger, you are better than you think. You are the Class of 2014.”

via An Open Letter to the Class of 2014.

When I first looked at the Common Application, I thought “Oh no. I am never going to get into college. I have not done ten different activities plus community service and I most certainly do not have numerous academic awards.”  Then as I sat down and looked at my résumé and thought about all the amazing things I have done in my life, it dawned on me.  Colleges need a variety of students to create the “diverse campus” that they all brag about.  Colleges can’t only accept the people who do every activity possible, because though they would have an involved student body, everything would be half done because the people involved are stretching themselves so thin.  They need the athletes, the nerds, the social butterflies, the musicians, the quiet thinkers, the teachers pets, the volunteers, and the categories keep going on and on.  Whatever category I fit in to, a college would want me to add to their community of students.  I realized that I just needed to be proud of what I had accomplished and let that shine through in my application.  I needed to capitalize on what makes me unique.  Once I found the passions and uniqueness that I wanted to highlight, the applications became so much easier.  Good luck Class of 2014, and don’t stress out too much, because it will all work out in the end.  You will find a way to be happy wherever you end up going.