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College Lauren is Not Better and That’s Okay

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 UMKC chapter.

College Lauren is going to be better. 

I have always kept a journal. Sometimes typed, sometimes written. Since my freshman year, I’ve kept a record of my most meaningful memories because I knew I would want to look back. The first entry of my college diary is from June 11, 2019, where I wrote with a sweaty, pleading sense of authority. 

Since then, I have written over 160 pages in that diary, with even more scattered in three or four paper journals I rotate between. Because of my freshman self’s attention to detail, I can chart the changes in myself from one semester to the next. But no matter how well I think I remember who I was and what I felt, that first sentence is always startling to me. 

College Lauren is going to be better

Spoiler alert: I am not better. 

I’m older. Closer to having a fully-developed brain. I’m not smarter, funnier, tougher or less frightened of the world. 

It’s taken me a long time to realize that there is no “better” when it comes to my high school self because we are in this together. We have the same values, dreams and fears. She is closer to me than even my sisters. No matter what changes, we’re the same. 

I’m more confident than her, but that’s because of lived experiences. It was hard-won, and it took more than one severed tie and many tearful nights. It took all the pain that didn’t kill me. 

I absolutely have a better sense of navigating all types of relationships, especially romantic ones. My high school self could never have imagined that I would be in a healthy, supportive romantic relationship at 22. She would be most surprised to know that I so completely trust many (read: four) of the men in my life. Back then, I didn’t feel that I could trust any. 

I’m more honest with myself and others. I say “no” more often—to nights out, extra work hours and spending time with people I don’t enjoy or respect. 

I still write. I always will. 

I was not naive enough to believe that college would instantly change me into a classier young woman with a bigger cup size and more friends. But I didn’t think that college, like high school, would be an uphill scramble for happiness. I thought that, at some point, life would ease up and I would have the tools to navigate anything. 

With only a few weeks left until my college graduation, I have accepted that life will always be hard. No amount of success, money or friends will protect me from it. At 22, I am realizing I don’t need protection. Like everyone else, I am figuring it out as I go. I don’t expect to be “better” when I’m employed full-time or married or a mother. I am—always—the best version of myself that I am capable of being at any given point in time. That’s enough. 

Lauren Textor is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who is studying English. She is one of UMKC's Campus Correspondents. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, painting, and sight-seeing at possibly haunted locations.