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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

College is always amped up to be some of, if not the, best four years of your life. I remember as a senior in high school everyone would gush over what colleges we got into and what we’d think our experiences would be; many sharing the same attitude of hard classes, partying, hookup culture, and lots of new friends (hopefully). I even recall telling my friends that I didn’t want a relationship yet because I wanted to be able to explore my sexuality since my hometown didn’t offer me that opportunity until I fell into one early freshman year.

As someone who didn’t experience my first kiss until 17-years-old, my first college experience of intimacy becoming a constant feature in my life was unexpected, to say the least. Though I’m only in my second year of college, I look back on my freshman year and wonder if I should constitute it as missing out on “the hype” of college because I didn’t engage in the hook-up culture or constantly go out with my friends. However, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t want to have the next four years of my life fit into the mold of what college should be like, I want these years to consist of things that make me happy. I’m just as happy to stay in and binge-watch the latest Netflix show with my boyfriend as I am to get dressed up and go out in the city with my friends — parties are usually the last thing on my mind.

Of course, everyone should recognize that this is a crucial time for expanding and developing your identity, and getting sucked into any aspect of college can set you off course. However, I believe an important part of figuring out who you are is understanding your capacity for intimacy. As someone who was quite overlooked in my teens, starting my college years feeling truly seen and cared for — and reciprocating those feelings — has helped my sense of confidence and self like no other.

With that being said, relationships aren’t for everyone at this stage of life just like hook-ups aren’t for everyone. Granting yourself that journey of independent self-discovery is something that can be so liberating, and you shouldn’t have to feel as if you need to settle for the sake of intimacy. Being in a relationship during college is not choosing stability over excitement. The change to college is exciting in itself, meeting new people is exciting, and starting the next stage of your life with a newfound sense of autonomy is exhilarating. The choice to have others by your side is yours, but don’t let your search for identity leave you isolated.

Something I want others to remember is that your college experience doesn’t have to be what everyone chalks it up to be because not everyone wants to lead the same life. I’ve found that while others enjoy the chaos and thrill of college, I like to retreat to the safe space I call my boyfriend and rejuvenate. In addition, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not too keen on prowling around Allston every weekend, sue me.

At the end of the day, choose what makes you happy, and I found happiness by exploring my capacity for love.

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All the way from St. Petersburg, Florida, Isabella is currently a sophomore at Boston University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Policy Analysis. Her hobbies include coffee dates, traveling, concerts, and fashion, and you can usually find her running late to class with a Starbucks drink in her hand!
Saumya is a freshman studying Psychology at Boston University. Some of her hobbies are painting, drinking way too much bubble tea, and reading! Find her on Instagram @saumya.maitra
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