College, whether you're new or not, can be overwhelmingly stressful. It can fester into doubt but it's okay. Here's why.
Original Picture Source: @official_izone via Twitter
Moving on to college is kind of a weird time, isn't it? Many of us are still trying to adjust to this exciting environment with strange people, and all while living in an entirely new home. At least, that’s how I felt when I moved on to college. I struggled a lot during my transition to college, and this was largely because I was still trying to figure out who I was. For 12 years, we all grew up in a place where almost everything was controlled. We were told when to eat, when we could go to the bathroom, when to go to classes – everything was a routine. Then suddenly, we’re thrown into ... whatever this is. Surely, being free from the grip of our parents and having a more independent experience would be nice, right? Possibly, but for others, maybe not.
So far, my college experience has been a little more than difficult. Sure, I liked the freedom of being able to sleep in longer, and I liked being able to do things on my own, but something didn't seem quite right. I had set up a routine, but I felt lost – aimless, almost. I didn't like feeling that way, so I did what seemed logical: I tried to identify why. I realized exactly what was going wrong, and that realization made me feel guilty. I was jealous of the people around me who were doing well in their classes, of the people who seemed to be adjusting better than I was, of the people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives.
Meanwhile, I wasn't even sure if the major I had chosen was the right one for me or if I even wanted to go to university. All these feelings combined with the new environment created the perfect recipe for distress. I became overwhelmed by even the thought of doing the simplest tasks.
Part of the reason for my loneliness and aimlessness is due to certain pressures society puts on us. It might be the most cliché explanation, but there's truth in it. There's this misleading expectation that we should know exactly what we should be doing with our lives and where we want to take it, but as prospective 18-year-old students (or whatever age you may be), we don't have to have it all figured out. That's exactly what we're here to do.
Naturally, my mind asks, "What if you never figure out what you want?" That's a terrifying question. No one wants to think about that possibility because it makes most people contemplate their self-worth, which is always fun to think about. I have answers, and the first one is fairly standard: try new things, put yourself out there. Join clubs, do your research and find people - anything to expose yourself to something new you haven’t tried. The trial and error method is the way to go here, and maybe somewhere along the way, you’ll find something you’ll really connect with. If that doesn’t work, there’s also an answer but it’s not one people typically want to hear.
Here’s the thing -- you were born into this world to be yourself, not to pursue some dream that isn’t yours. A cliché philosophy, sure, but there’s a reason it’s a common ideology. You don't have to keep working for something you don’t want because what’s the point in doing that? It’s a waste of your energy. If you just want to appreciate what’s around you, that’s OK. If you don’t have big dreams, that’s OK. If you want to live as you are, that’s OK, too. When it feels like you’re surrounded by people who are driven, it’s easy to feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to do. It’s hard to shake off that anxiety, but again, it’s OK. I feel that way too, but we can figure it out – one day at a time.
With this in mind, take some time for yourself. While trying to manage all the new pressures of college on top of staying true to yourself, remember to pause for a moment.
This is all so difficult already in a new environment that’s constantly pushing you to change – so stop overthinking, stop worrying, and take a deep breath. Take some time to do something that makes you happy, something that you enjoy, and take your mind off all the ongoings of college.