Everyone winds up at their specific schools for a reason—it’s one of the best things about going to college. All of your peers share your academic, extracurricular and personal strengths from high school. You’re among thousands of like-minded people.
But that might actually be the scariest part about college, too.
Imagine your first day as a college student. Sure, you’re super nervous, but you know that you got this. You ended up in your place because of your outstanding high school resume: straight A’s, yearbook editor, captain of the soccer team. You did it all. Until you get to your first class and realize that everyone else did it all too…and then some.
It doesn’t feel like you’re special anymore.
You start to feel the pressure to keep up with everyone and stand out. This makes the transition from high school even harder—especially if you come from a high school that offers little opportunities. It feels like everyone else is much farther along in their journey than you.
As you walk through campus feeling proud of where you’re at, you notice that everyone seems to already have things figured out. People walk around in business suits with resumes in their hands. You meet some in your first few classes who already secured an internship for the semester.
College can feel like a race sometimes, and everyone around you already got a head start.
At this point you don’t even want to listen to anyone else’s success stories. Everything you’ve accomplished feels overshadowed by the entire university. It’s hard to forget about what they have and what you don’t.
All you do is worry.
They’ve got an internship and you don’t. Does that mean you won’t become successful? Every step forward for someone else just feels like another set-back for you.
The minute you start to feel comfortable with where you’re at in the race, it seems like everyone is just taking laps around. Nothing matters at that point—you just start thinking irrationally. Well, if I don’t have an internship by now, I guess I’ll just live with my parents for the rest of my life.
There’s so much pressure when you’re 19 years old to have everything figured out now. You can’t make any mistakes because whatever happens will have an effect on your future. Any wrong step can lead to your downfall. Along with all of the right steps, it seems like you have to keep fighting to get to all of the right check points on time. But what even is “on time?”
The truth to a race, though, is that there isn’t a time limit. You just finish the race whenever you finish it. Some people graduate early and some people graduate late. They all still got their degree, didn’t they? There’s truth in the saying that slow and steady can win.
The world isn’t a perfect place, so all opportunities aren’t distributed equally.
In order to move forward in the race that is college, you need to take what you can get and run with it. You have to start somewhere. Sure, you can be jealous because your friend’s high school was a lot better than yours, but only you know how to use the cards you’ve been dealt.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that while yes, you’re 19 and that means you have to work hard for your future, you’re also still just 19. Most people don’t hit their peak when they’re in college. In fact, it would be pretty awful if they did.
Don’t expect yourself to become the most renowned person in your field as a young adult.
Take pride in all of the little accomplishments you create, because you’ll spend the rest of your college career worrying otherwise. Work hard—but know your limits. It took Ariana Grande four albums before she got her first Grammy, so don’t worry if you aren’t an instant success. All of the little things you achieve will add up to something incredible.
Your biggest achievements will take a few years, and the time is all your own. Comparing yourself to your peers doesn’t make time slow down. You waste your own energy that could be spent moving forward worrying about the people around you.
Don’t let pressure get the best of you because it could end up hurting you in the end. Take your time. You’ll get that internship eventually—now just isn’t your time. As long as you stay slow, steady and confident in yourself, you’ll accomplish incredible things during your time in college.