Don’t limit yourself to the “ideal” college experience

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor

I’m just going to say it: college is hard. And what I’m talking about isn’t just about academics and studying. I was excited to go to college, to move away and be independent, but no one told me about the other hardships I would face.

As students, we face the added pressures of living the “college ideal.” The minute we announce that we are attending a certain college, each of our friends creates an image of what our college experience should be like. And what’s frustrating is that this image is usually nothing like what we want our experience to be.

Unfortunately, social media has twisted the “college ideal.” If you would have asked someone 20 years ago what they thought the college dream was, they probably would have answered something along the lines of “making lifelong friends and graduating with a degree.” The “college dream” today is still somewhat similar but it now encompasses this almost bucket list type of items. Everyone wants to see you study abroad, go to parties, join a sorority or fraternity, and spend every Thursday and Friday night at some bar drinking with people everyone thinks you like.

What’s frustrating is that as current college students, we face the hardships of trying to conform to this “college ideal”. Our Instagram followers expect us to post about our crazy adventures. Our friends from home expect us to come back from breaks with stories that belong in movies, and our parents expect to scold us about the stupid things we have done. It’s hardships like living up to this expectation that make college harder than what everyone says it is.

This past semester has taught me a lot of this “college ideal”. I beat myself up constantly and forced myself out to try and live up to the expectations of others. I forced myself to attend events I did not want to attend, hang out with people that didn’t mean much to me, and try to put myself in situations just so I could have the story afterwards. Nothing about this was fun to me.

When I finally reached my breaking point, I was upset. I was mad at my “friends” on Instagram and Snapchat who thought that I was happy doing what everyone else is doing.

I am here to tell you that you don’t have to live up to this “college ideal.” Social media has distorted our view of what is fun in college. And let me tell you, there is definitely not one answer.

College isn’t about doing things to make our social media profiles better or going on crazy adventures to just have a story to tell someone later. It isn’t about joining a sorority or fraternity, then repeatedly telling everyone about how much you love your fellow members.

It’s about doing things you enjoy. If you want to spend Friday night with friends and Netflix then do it, or in my case make every Thursday night game night.

Trust me, you won’t be happy in 20 years when you look back at your college years and realize that everything you did was because of other people. It was never what YOU wanted to do.

At some point, if you feel like you relate to anything I mentioned, then make the change! Realize what’s making you unhappy and take time to figure out what you want to do. I learned that I love to crochet animals (I know, so weird, but they look so cute and make perfect presents). I’m also happier saying “I want to spend the weekend at Berry,” knowing that I’m not pressuring myself to go out.

Once you realize that you aren’t living your “college ideal”, change your mindset and start enjoying your college experience.

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