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Mental Health

Five Totally Normal Thoughts College Students are Having Right Now

To all the disappointed freshmen who were looking forward to meeting their life-long friends or attending their first lecture -- this is for you. To the sophomores who were eagerly waiting to finally live off-campus and experience another year of college -- this is for you. To the juniors who were excited to turn 21 and go to a bar with their friends -- this is for you. And to the seniors who just want to spend their final year of college celebrating with all their friends -- this is for you, too. 

Whether you’re feeling sad, disappointed, frustrated, anxious, or a combination of all of these, it can be easy to shame yourself or to discredit your emotions. But your thoughts and feelings are valid, and they deserved to be acknowledged. 

This article was not written to dwell on the negatives of the pandemic, but to let you all know that you are not alone and that what you’re feeling is perfectly normal. Below is a list of just some of the frustrating thoughts and worries many of us college students are thinking right now.  

These were supposed to be the best four years of my life.

We’ve heard it a million times from a million different people: “College will be the best four years of your life.” But now that we find ourselves in this unforeseeable situation, this promise is not a guarantee. This pandemic is robbing us of these precious years of our life. It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated and upset. But even though this year is not what we envisioned when we were told about the legendary days of college, we can use this as a chance to reinvent the college experience and find joy in other, more simplistic ways. 

How is this going to affect my future?

Quarantine gave us all a lot of time to think and learn about ourselves. Some people were able to find their passion while stuck at home. Others learned new skills to help them in the future. While this was a great opportunity for self-discovery, it has caused a lot of panic for those whose opportunities were squandered due to the pandemic. Canceled internships and remote learning have a lot of us feeling uneasy about how this will affect our future careers. These are unprecedented times so no one knows what exactly will come from this pandemic and if our future careers are in jeopardy. 

Am I wasting my money?

College is already insanely expensive, but now that most of our classes are online, it makes us wonder whether we are wasting our money. As grateful as we are for professors trying their best to make zoom classes as effective as possible -- it will never be the same as the face-to-face experience. Virtual learning has left many students questioning whether it would be financially smarter to take a gap year or switch to their local community college. With that being said, this pandemic has also served as a learning experience for us before we enter the real world. It has shown us that financial stability is never a guarantee and we must be smart about our economic choices. 

I'm sick of being told what I can and can't do.

Quarantine gave many of us extra cherished time with our families, but it has also left a lot of us needing space for ourselves. After living under our parent’s roof (and rules) for our entire lives, most of us were itching to move to a university and experience freedom. We were told that once we get to college we can make our own rules and do whatever we want. But now that we are in a pandemic, there is a long list of strict guidelines that we are expected to follow. Although these rules are completely necessary for the safety of ourselves and our community, it is extremely frustrating to have a part of our freedom taken away from us during this time of our life. 

I don't know what is the "right thing" to do.

We are all living in unprecedented times, so it’s understandable for us not to know exactly how we should be going about our daily lives. Most of us want to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but it’s hard to find a happy medium -- especially in college. Doing the “right thing” is even more difficult when you see some of your friends partying and having fun. On the one hand, you want to make the most out of your college experience, but at the same time, you want to be smart about your decisions. Although these stressful times have resulted in a moral dilemma for some of us, they have also helped us learn about what is really important in our lives. We’ve been reminded that what matters is protecting ourselves and the people we love. It has also taught us an important lesson about who we choose to spend our time with. Now more than ever, it is essential to surround yourself with like-minded individuals with whom you share similar values.

As we continue to embark on this unusual school year, remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself space to sit with your emotions. Together, we will get through this -- but let’s remember to help each other, and ourselves, along the way. And if you find yourself struggling with your mental health, it’s important to seek professional help through virtual or in-person resources. 


Sarah Peltz is a student at Michigan State University studying journalism and public relations. With a passion for health and wellness, Sarah enjoys working out, cooking, and simple acts of self-care.
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