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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

If you’re anything like me, you’re no stranger to pressure and high goals. When I was a child, I was told that this was a positive thing and something to be very proud of. “Reach for the stars,” literally decorated my locker in middle school. I was so proud to be involved in so many activities: a varsity tennis athlete, volunteer work, working a full-time job, receiving awards as an art student, and still receiving high grades in high school. I remember so many nights with little sleep and days where I just wished I could drop my activities and go straight home after school. 

When I graduated high school, I was full of joy and dreams about the future. “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson was probably my most repeated anthem as I made plans for college and to leave my small town. The day I received my scholarship letter to Texas Christian University was one of the best days of my life. I had dreamed about attending TCU ever since I was a little girl, and it was a dream that I thought wouldn’t happen. I will never forget sitting at the Sonic drive-through with my dad, of all places, overcome with joy about the prospects of my future. I had worked so hard to reach this goal and I was thrilled! After all, this was everything I had dreamed of.

By the time I reached college, I was ecstatic and almost entirely overwhelmed. I had the entire four years mapped out. I had a clear vision of how I wanted my college experience to go. If I didn’t live up to the vision I had, I would feel like I had wasted my opportunity. Especially considering the emphasis everyone places on college being the “best years of your life,” (something that always confused and freaked me out). The amount of pressure was insane. I made a vow to make the most out of my experience at TCU and not take any time at all for granted. After all, these were supposed to be the “best” years of my life and I was determined to make the most out of them. 

Upon arriving at TCU, I quickly submersed myself into the college experience. I joined multiple clubs, rushed a sorority, never missed a TCU football game to cheer on the Horned Frogs (go frogs!!!), and made it a goal to go dancing at Billy Bob’s every Thursday. By the time my dad came to TCU to pick me up from the end of my first year, I was sunburned, exhausted, and happy. I was also incredibly proud to have achieved a 4.0 GPA after a LOT of late nights (props to the Bachelor and Glee for helping me stay up!).

However, there was something missing. I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I had probably switched my major at least five times since I entered TCU. I had gone from a political science pre-law major to a speech pathology major to a fashion merchandise major to an early childhood major and finally settled on youth advocacy and child development (and still plan on attending law school). Once I had decided upon my major, I settled quite nicely into things. Still, I wasn’t satisfied. I immersed myself even deeper. During these past few years at TCU, I became the President of Her Campus at TCU (my favorite org ever!!) and it was so much more than I anticipated, alongside several other leadership positions in other organizations.

During my time at TCU, I have had the opportunity to do things that I had only ever dreamed of. I have gotten to study abroad in Italy and serve Cook Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Networks on the Executive Board of TCU Dance Marathon. We held a big on-campus carnival to raise funds and awareness for the incredible children who are staying at our Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and got to meet the Miracle Kids themselves! I have had the experience of living in Florida for the summer and intern at the Ronald McDonald House, which is my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi’s, philanthropy, and one of my favorite charities ever. I loved getting to help all the families from the hospital that were staying there! It was scary spending the summer away from home in a faraway place, but it turned out to be oh-so worth it. I have gotten to serve as a Frog Camp Facilitator, been an RA in one of our campus dorms, led girls going through sorority recruitment as a Rho Gamma, interned at Make-A-Wish (my dream organization) and I am currently working at The Worthy Co, a social enterprise that provides employment for survivors of trafficking.

Through it all, I have faced many rejections (whether it be internships, leadership positions on campus, or for certain jobs I have wanted). These rejections have been hard. These rejections have also made me question if I was accomplishing everything I should be. They were definitely hard on me and I tried not to take them too personally.

As my years in college have gone by, I have matured and my perspectives have been broadened. I have gotten the opportunity to work with people through all different stages of life. I have learned that life is so much more than our accomplishments or what we do. It’s about who we are and the people we impact. I have grown comfortable with who I am and I know that whatever I accomplish does not define me. I have learned not to compare myself to others (which is incredibly hard!) and know that everyone has different struggles, regardless if they show them or not.

To the college freshman who is overwhelmed and fears they may not be doing enough; you are more than enough and you are accomplishing so much more than you think. Don’t compare yourself to others and know that everyone’s path looks different. Stay focused on yourself and do not be afraid to take that time for yourself. If you need to take a day for yourself and sit on the couch and watch rom-coms, do that. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to step back, take that time for yourself, and evaluate your options. If I had taken this advice as a freshman, I would definitely have had less pressure on myself and savored the moments I had. Like Billy Joel says, “Slow down, you’re doing fine.” I wish I had discovered that song my freshman year and taken more breaks. I am so thankful for these past few years and my experiences at TCU, but now I know how to put less pressure on myself and savor the little moments! The future is always bright and everyone is on their own timeline, regardless of what everyone else thinks. 

Marena Mendez is a rising senior at Texas Christian University and the President of Her Campus at TCU. She is a Youth Advocacy and Child Development major with specializations in Art Education and Communication studies. Marena is also the President of Frogs 4 Children, the Director of Hospitality for TCU Dance Marathon, and a Marketing Intern for Make A Wish. If she's not on campus, she's probably watching "Community", at Target, or tearing it up at Billy Bob's!