*I wrote this post a really long time ago last year, but I was worried it wasn’t long enough or good enough to publish. Well, here it is. It seemed appropriate as the start of school is upon us again, and everyone starts to have college envy. I want to make it clear that I am SO grateful for my college opportunities, but in this post my intent was to point out how it does not benefit college students at all to tell them that it’s going to be the best experience of their lives, because quite frankly it might not be. Thank you for reading my ramblings!*
That phrase. Oh my gosh that phrase. It needs to go.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to enjoy every minute of college because “it’s the best 4 years of your life” and “it will be gone before you know it” and “you’ll wish you could go back.” Based on my experience and the experience of most of my friends, college is not the best 4 years of our lives. Or at least that’s not what it seems like now.
I was reading my book again and the author related motherhood to climbing Mount Everest and how many people tell mothers to enjoy every second of motherhood. I felt like she was speaking directly about my college experience when she said, “And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers, ‘ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF?! IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T! TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!’ those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.”
College sucks. It’s also amazing. But as I’m laying in bed at 11pm (because I haven’t had the opportunity to go to bed this early in a long time) and I’m trying to block out my roommates screaming in a language I cannot comprehend at all and the people above me playing super loud music while having sex (yep I can hear every creak of the bed above me this apartment is a piece of you-know-what), I would have to say that I am definitely not enjoying myself. Trying to block out these noises in my apartment occasionally spikes my anxiety to the point where I cry; there are days that my “home” feels like hell. Most days at school, it takes everything in me just to get through my commitments without breaking down.
If you saw how many tears my friends and I have shared over school, boys, and broken friendships, I don’t think you would tell us that we’re in the middle of the best four years of our lives. I think you’d be more likely to hug us and tell us that it will be over before we know it. If you knew how many of us are on medication to keep our anxiety and depression in order, I think you would understand where I’m coming from. College has amazing experiences and is a unique four (or so) years, but if these are the best years of my life I am going to be a little upset.
For the most part, we are all living for our future while at school. Almost everything I do is about setting myself up for a future job or internship or buffing up my resume or making my body look better for spring break or sacrificing most of my sleep for a test I have next week. Setting ourselves up for our future is drilled in our brains to the point where living in the moment feels strange. Telling me that I’m not enjoying the best years of my life while I am desperately trying to follow my dreams is a bit of a letdown, to say the least.
You know what’s way better? “I am proud of you.” Most of us don’t hear those words enough. We’re all trying to outscore each other and be the most impressive or most well-rounded and it feels as if we will never be good enough. Our professors would never dare praise us or tell us that we did well, and the comfort of friends who feel the same way can only go so far. We need our elders to tell us that our effort is being noticed and appreciated, because our little college bubble is in desperate need of some encouragement.
I realize I will probably view my experience very different a few years down the line, but right now it is honestly really hard. I try to appreciate my school and the people I get to learn from every day, but it’s difficult to appreciate day in and day out. I try to remember how lucky I am to be surrounded by friends all the time, but sometimes I want my parents more than anything. I’m trying to appreciate everything, I really am. I try to not take this opportunity for granted. I just need you to hear me when I say that most days I don’t go to bed going, “Wow college is great I love not sleeping and feeling dead every day just to try to get good grades and keep up a social life and stay active.”
College has some ups mixed in with the downs, but the ups are usually pretty special for many of us, so believe me when I say we don’t need to be told to appreciate those. At the end of the day, what we all need are encouraging words, Starbucks gift cards, and Jimmy John’s delivery.