There is no such thing as the “college experience.”
I know what you’re imagining. A bunch of teenagers teetering onto adulthood all together in a messy dorm room. They party every weekend with a close group of friends, and discover their passions through their invigorating coursework and develop close relationships with their favorite professors. Some people fall in love, and some people fall behind. This is college, right?
This doesn’t exist. At least, not for me.
Nobody tells you that college is what you make of it. Perpetually wild nights and wonderful relationships with professors exist for some, but not all.
Everybody wants to have the best grades, throw the best parties and date the cutest girl. Competition thrives in academic environments. Nobody wants to show off their 0 in calculus or post Instagram pictures of their lonely Friday night. Your rejection from that sorority you rushed becomes a secret. Those things are to be tucked away. Who would want to show that off?
Bombing your midterm is part of the “college experience.” It is. So are those weekend nights where your only date is the deadline on Canvas, and so are those quiet solo lunches in between classes. This is part of college. So many people hide their failures and silence their true feelings about college. We should all be more comfortable talking about this.
I walk through my campus every day and watch people live their life alone. They eat alone, ride the bus alone and march across campus with their headphones in and nobody by their side. Everybody does this, and still pretends they cross campus surrounded by a pack of friends every day. It’s unrealistic, but people are uncomfortable with being alone. That’s okay.
Getting swept up into the riptide of expectation is almost too easy at university. You’re constantly bombarded with images of what your life should be when you should be focusing on what it is. It’s okay if you don’t meet the love of your life at your university or if you don’t graduate with a 4.0. Nobody is going to be watching you so closely throughout your time at university. College is a time for independence. You have the reigns. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. Meander through life at your own pace.
Your college experience should be nothing more than your time in college. Some days you’ll feel lonely even in a sea of people, and some days you’ll feel like there’s always someone smarter than you. The thing is: that’s the point. Everybody will have the occasional lonely lunch or clever classmate. Don’t drown yourself in expectations, or else you’ll never have a chance to catch a breath of fresh air.
Expecting every day to mirror what you see on the television can only lead to disappointment. Don’t worry if you’re having the perfect “college experience.” Go to classes alone, fail some exams that you’ll forget about in a few months and revel in your independence. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.