Was It Worth It?

Was it worth it? As I near the end of my first year of college, this question rattles through my mind daily. After spending my first semester at MSU at home, I made the decision to apply to be on campus for the second semester. I spent hours weighing the literal and figurative costs and benefits of moving onto campus for the rest of the year. Was it worth it? Now having experienced living at home and on campus as a college freshman during COVID, I can say that the nature of the question makes it impossible to answer.


That may not be the expected response. It’s quite anticlimactic. But the problem is in the question itself. This year I’ve learned that we can’t measure the worth of our lives or our decisions by evaluating costs and benefits. That leads us into a comparison trap where satisfaction is never attainable. 


Three months ago, I would have been ready in an instant to go home and return to the comfort of the life I had always known. I was feeling unsure, isolated, and lonely. Aside from the effects of the pandemic on-campus life, I’m sure it did not help that I moved into my single-person suite-style dorm knowing no one, being an out-of-state student. I was convinced that I had made a mistake. I was comparing my life to my friends’ lives back home, who had moved into their universities in the fall, like normal. I was comparing my life to my life at home the first semester. I was comparing my life to my expectations of freshman year. All because I was trying to enumerate the worth of my decision.


But I learned that satisfaction never comes without first shutting down the comparison. Comparison alters our perception of reality and shields us from the truth. The truth is that I am lucky to be in a position to experience campus during a global pandemic. The truth is that I am not alone, and I choose to accept the love that I am surrounded by. The truth is that neither of those things can be taken away; not by a pandemic, not by self-sabotaging comparison.


This week, I’ve been filled with feelings of loss and discomfort as I’m confronted with the notion of moving back home. I’ve never been good at handling transitions. But as I return home for the summer, I’ll continue to ask myself: Was it worth it? Not to evaluate the past, but to appreciate reality and its truths.