THE “OTHER” SIDE OF COLLEGE

In honor of completing my first month and a half here at beautiful Loyola Marymount University, I thought I’d share something about college not many people told me before. My time here has been wonderful so far I’ve met some great people and created several memories already, but just 6 weeks here made me realize that there are several misconceptions about college and freshman year that aren’t conveyed by the countless Instagram posts and snapchat stories. Whether you are in high school anxious to start college, or someone like me who is currently experiencing it, I think there are several things left unsaid.

College is very exhausting. Coming into my first year I knew it’s a time where you are busier with friends, classes, meetings, which doesn’t seem like a lot at first, until sleeping before midnight starts feeling like a luxury. It may not be academically exhausting, but constantly being surrounded by people, longer classes, changing your eating and sleeping habits, before you know it, that short reading just took you the entire day. Often times for me this was discouraging because I felt the hours slip by me even when I wasn’t actively procrastinating. I realized a little later that it was because in college you get more social engagement than you desire and it’s prevalent in your life from the minute you wake up to the minute you fall asleep. The amount of time your brain is active in a day either focusing in class, being at a job, attending meetings, talking to friends, walking literally everywhere, you are bound to be drop dead tired every day.

Your first friends may not be your forever friends, and college isn’t always 100% fun and games at all times. It sure seems like it though through all those social media posts of the exciting experiences everyone is having. But in the end we all know social media is a bubble of fake reality within itself where no one is going to post a photo of them doing homework or having a bad day. It’s original purpose was to store and share good memories but even I’ll admit that I’m guilty of scrolling and believing those people are always happy in college. But the bottom line is that they aren’t. I consider myself lucky to have found a great group of friends so early, but in the first couple weeks I remember how nerve wracking it was opening up to all these new people. When I was in high school, I kept thinking that people who told me it takes time to find “your people” just weren’t looking hard enough, or didn’t put themselves out there. But once I experienced it I knew that’s not how it is. There are going to be times you doubt your judgement or think that you don’t fit in with the lifestyle of your newfound group. Especially because the people on your floor or dorm most likely have been randomly placed there and you may not have anything major in common with them besides maybe your love for the school and choice to attend. It seems like a lot of people find friends overnight or are best friends with their roommates, but I’ve seen a lot of cases in which this isn’t true and consider yourself lucky if it is. I’m quite close with my floormates but I know as I expand into classes relating to my major and other clubs/organizations I’ll meet a different group of people that are out there for me.

You will feel lonely at times. And that’s normal. It seems strange how one could be lonely while being surrounded by people 24/7, but sometimes you miss how close you were with friends back home, and conversations seem not the same. You are putting yourself out there all the time, and maybe not getting the results you want. Maybe you mess up on a test or send the wrong text and don’t have the same friends who know exactly how to make you feel better. Social media plays a role here too at least for me, where I’d wonder why I was the only one feeling down sometimes while everyone was having fun on Instagram or Facebook. Although I’ve had some great times with the people around me and have been engaging in so many new opportunities, it was important for me to know that loneliness is just a part of growing up and moving away to something unfamiliar. It’s something so many students in college experience at some point or another.

These may sound all sad or even scary to those younger or ones that just started, but I can assure you college (at least for me) is so many times better than high school. You are naturally placed in an environment with people who all were worthy enough to get into the college you attend. Academically it’s much more intellectually stimulating and there are misconceptions about it, but within a month and a half I’d already grown in so many aspects. This may not be the best 4 years of your life and not what social media or other people say it is, but it is a place of learning that affects everyone in different ways. Be excited, but don’t be afraid to accept that your experiences will be different and unique from others.

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