In high school, everyone expects students to go down in history as the star player, get straight As, sing in the best choir and write for the school newspaper. College students still try to do it all, but rarely survive the stress-filled days.
I came to college with the assumption that I’d join all the same activities that I loved in high school. My high school boasted a lot of overachievers (myself included), and I thought my college shared a similar group of students.
The summer before my freshman year I practiced singing for potential acapella groups to join, emailed the Editor-in-Chief of the main newspaper and looked up nearby swing dancing clubs.
Although I’m involved in some of those activities now, my best laid plans fell as quickly as a drunk freshman.
When I didn’t get into any of the three acapella groups I auditioned for, I decided to join the choir so I could keep singing. But the skill level was definitely lower than my high school choir. This choir had both students and faculty, so the random singing down the hallway and backstage that could only come with the bonding in high school just didn’t exist. The choir met on Thursdays, the same night as practically every club on campus, which meant I couldn’t watch #TGIT Shondaland night.
After the winter concert, I dropped the choir. Singing had always helped me de-stress, but I left in search for something else to relax me, a replacement I’m still working on.
I also searched for a new publication that could replace the space in my heart occupied by my high school website. I knew it was an unreasonable expectation, because trying to replace the cute Instagram posts and laughing while editing horrible high school articles felt impossible. I felt devastated when my unreasonable expectations weren’t met. The staff wasn’t as close as my previous staff and I wasn’t getting to publish things I wanted to write. I needed to work harder to find something to fill that void and not become that person who obsessed over high school.
I eventually decided to look outside of my campus for writing and I readjusted my anticipation for a new publication.
As someone who identifies as an overachiever, all of these failures in the first months of college led to a lot of anxiety over my ability to succeed in the real world and the industry that I loved so much. I worried that I would end up as part of the large percentage of freshman who drop out in the first year or that I wouldn’t be mentally stable enough to continue my education. I stressed that what was happening in college was a microcosm of what would happen to me in the real world.
While my major and career path didn’t change, I exposed myself to more parts of my industries and became interested in other parts of science and journalism. The main reason I moved across the country for college was for the opportunities a new city could afford me. When opportunities to visit the National Press Club or attend a conference on science or journalism appeared, I snatched them up. Since I attend college in a busy city, I can’t let the many opportunities pass me by. Getting involved in new groups and activities on campus allowed me to explore my interests and change my habits from high school. Rather than rushing to do all my homework the night before something was due, the activities I joined made me plan my week and my homework more carefully. I stopped doing activities that I didn’t love 100 percent and joined more that I did.
College isn’t meant to be a repetition of high school, but like me, a lot of people forget that.
Doing something that deviates from your plan doesn’t need to be negative, so don’t worry about your life heading down the wrong path. For me, I try to keep in mind that I’m meant to do a certain activity and that I’ll end up at the best place for me.