Open Letter to the Student Who Feels the Pressure to Enjoy Their College Years

August marked the start of my third year at UCF. I’ve hit #junior status. Family members as well as good friends of mine have asked in varying ways the same basic question: how do I like college? Until now, before writing this article, I’d done one of two things: flat out lied and said that I was enjoying it immensely, or conveniently didn't answered the question by bring up another subject matter.

I’ve been told countless times as well as heard in passing that college is the best time of your life. They say this is the time to learn more about yourself and try new things, that it’s the time to finally be independent from your parents (yay?), how it’s where you meet your future spouse, how the relationships and experiences you have stick with you and can be applied to your future job or career, not to mention the friends you make, parties you attend, and all the fun campus events you’d be stupid to miss. With all this hype, you’d think a girl would be more excited to leave her hometown and travel 4 hours south to embark on the next leg of her life journey.

Except I wasn’t. I’m not. I’m half way to a degree and I don’t find myself enjoying or hating college any more than I did when I was a freshman sharing a dorm room with the best roommate ever (you know who you are girl…and you’ve set the bar so high, man!). I assumed that as soon as I finished off my Gen Eds and started taking classes in my major – film – all the stars would align and most things if not everything would be amazing. However, during sophomore year, when said time was supposed to take place, not more than two hours after my dad hugged me goodbye and left me in my dorm did I burst into tears and cry myself into a dejected mood, before wiping my face and slapping on a fake smile to greet my new roommates.

My close friends here in Orlando were so happy to see me and so happy to be away from home for another year, it never crossed their minds that one of us might have been okay with one more week spent with their siblings and parents before being shipped off after 3 short months of summer. They relish in the ability to stay up late or go anywhere they please without having to report where they are, while most days I go to class, maybe grocery shop, and the most exciting thing I want to put myself through is a Netflix binge or, more often, the newest book I bought or checked out from the library.

To be clear, I’m not being ungrateful or disregarding the fact that I even get to go to college and experience these few years maturing without my parents breathing down my neck, as well as getting to be in an environment where there are other people who share my interests and want to learn and take part in the same things I do. I know that there are kids near and far who want to go to college but can’t due to financial, academic, or other reasons. At the same time, the emphasis that my peers put on being a college student are not ones I share and I constantly feel as if I have to pretend I’m having a good time when I'm really not.

So to those of you reading this? I'll tell you the the thing that gave me piece of mind and helped me shift my focus away from wanting to graduate and be done with it: Not everyone is going to have the same experience and it is okay if you're not having the time of your life. Comparison is a killer, and there's no reason why you should spend your time being miserable because your girlfriend or your roommate seem adjusted and to be having a great time. There's nothing wrong with you, in fact, your own adventure might become more enjoyable once you leave the college scene. Until then, take a deep breath, let it out, and keep your chin up because believe it or not, it actually does get better. 

Happy fall semester Knights!

Photo courtesy of Pixlebay