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The May before my first semester of college I thought I had my life completely figured out. Despite a stressful college application process and dealing with the pandemic, I felt like I had my life together: I was consistently working out, my confidence was through the roof, and I had finally committed to a college. I felt intelligent, beautiful, and prepared to enter a new stage of life. Most of all, I felt so content and at peace with the universe — the type of bliss described in movies. I was truly on my hot girl sh*t. 

As my summer neared to an end, I braced myself for college. I was excited, but I knew it would be a huge change, and all I wanted was to adjust well to college. Two weeks into the semester, I expected the honeymoon phase of my new life to fade and for the homesickness to kick in, but I continued to feel fine — I wasn’t homesick, I enjoyed my classes, and I was making friends. Part of me kept waiting for some sort of breakdown (surely, I couldn’t have adjusted this well to college) but to my surprise, I adapted extremely well to my new life. Between studying for my classes, going to parties, dancing in a cultural show, and finalizing my apartment for sophomore year, the semester flew by; I ended the semester with good grades, good friends, and many good memories — the quintessential college experience. By winter break, I felt like I had this whole college-thing down, and I couldn’t wait for the next semester. 

Cut to five weeks into my second semester and suddenly, I found myself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and lonely, and I had no idea why. I was enjoying the winter weather, taking fewer credits than the previous semester, and I was happy to be around my friends again — and yet, I still didn’t feel as good as I had before. On top of feeling down, I unconsciously beat myself up for not being happy. “Why am I struggling now? I didn’t struggle in first semester, so there is no reason to be stressed now.” I failed a test for the first time (well, more like barely passed, but that’s not the point), and started to wonder, “Am I really cut out to be on the pre-med track?” With almost all of my close friends in relationships, I felt super single for the first time in my life. My self-confidence faltered. I started focussing on my “failures” and everything that was “lacking”, constantly coming back to the question: what am I doing with my life? 

I wasn’t used to this uncertainty, but eventually, I snapped out of my funk and I realized something: what fun would life be if we had all the answers? If we knew how every story in our book would turn out? While uncertainty is uncomfortable, I’ve chosen to embrace it because I’m not supposed to have all the answers right now — that’s what life is for. It’s not necessarily a novel revelation, but I think its a good reminder that just living and growing through the different seasons of your life is enough. Your life doesn’t have to feel like a movie all the time. Besides, even the main character in the movies has to go through some dilemma before the story ends, right? 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty of life — especially when we live in a time where anytime we have a question, we can easily search up the answer — but the uncertainty is what makes it beautiful. It’s okay if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Make decisions you’re unsure about. Take risks (or don’t). Don’t stress about the perfect because there is no perfect choice or decision or path you can take; every choice has its benefits and drawbacks, but that’s life and it’s messy and imperfect, and beautiful. There’s no way of changing the past, no single decision you can make in the present that’s defining, and no way to control the uncertainty of the future. So, if like me, you’re struggling right now, I hope you can find comfort in knowing that others struggle too and that eventually, you’ll get out of your funk. Until then, though, embrace the uncertainty. 

Shreya Barlinge is a freshman at the University of Michigan studying BCN (Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience) on the pre-med track. In her free time, she loves to bake, volunteer, and hang out with friends!
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