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In Which an Introvert Grapples with the “College Experience”

At the end of last semester, I realized that I felt unsatisfied with my college experience. My college experience has never quite matched up with our cultural construction of what a “good college experience” is. There have been no great romances. There has been no singular defining experience for my time here. I don’t feel, most of the time, like a drastically different person. This feeling culminated when I got home. I realized that I was coming back to Kenyon with some great friends and my writing, but… not much else. I don’t know a lot of the people here. I don’t really go out to things. My reasoning is multifaceted: anxiety or introversion or laziness or some other feeling that I cannot fully articulate.

So, I started off the year going to parties, playing games with friends, going to campus events, trying out for new things, and assigning myself a bigger course load than I’ve ever had. My immediate reflection? This is exhausting. I genuinely do not know how extroverted people exist, but I am proud of them. I socialize with much more people than I usually do (still not many, mind you) and I come home and crash.

Part of me loves it and another part of me hates it. I haven’t figured out which one is winning yet.

I think that there’s something really valuable about getting the most of my four years here. I mean, someone is paying $60k a year for me to go here (Rest in Peace, Hannah More). But really, I am a thousand miles from home and my family misses me; I came here to grow and step out of my comfort zone and meet people and learn. I am glad that I am less like the girl who would sit alone on weekends last year.

Still, though, I wish that I were less hard on her. She was doing her best, just as I am doing my best now. I think that too often, I judge my past self for not having my current experiences, but she is the one who got me to this feeling of pseudo-contentment. I say pseudo because I am not sure how long this will last before I crash into a hole I can’t climb out of.

My past self-took fewer risks because she was scared, but also because she knew that becoming a more rounded person would take work. I am glad of the work that I am putting in, but I see where she is coming from. I’m doing this mostly for her, though. As much as she had fun staying alone on some weekends, she also faced an intense sort of loneliness. Her mental illness was not kind to her decisions to stay in. She, more than anyone, deserves to see that there’s a lot of beauty in the world outside of her own head. I am by no means perpetually happy now, but I like to think that I have given her—myself—longer spurts of happiness.

And I’m sure we can agree that that’s a step forward.

 

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

 

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Paola is a writer and Co-Campus Correspondent of Her Campus Kenyon. She is an English major at Kenyon College with a minor in anthropology. In 2018, she won the Propper Prize for Poetry, and her poems were published in Laurel Moon Literary Magazine. She loves her friends and superheroes and the power language can hold. Mostly, though, she is a small girl from Texas who is trying her best.
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