“College is the best four years of your life.”
We’ve all heard it said and consequently have this idea that our life is going to peak in college and then afterwards, it’s all downhill from there. And that’s exactly what I thought until I got a little piece of advice.
I was meeting up for coffee in downtown Indianapolis over winter break with Molly, one of the co-founders of the Lala. I was telling her all about my so-called “sophomore slump” and how making friends wasn’t really my cup of tea. College so far hadn’t been this amazing experience that everyone had talked about. After I finished complaining, she looked at me and said, “Only losers peak in college. If college ends up being the high of your life, then that’s pretty sad.”
That changed my perspective of college entirely.
Like many people, I had painted this elaborate, perfectly polished picture in my mind that college was the finish line for a person’s life – probably from hearing “college is the best four years of your life” so many times. Well, how come I’m about 2 full years in and I feel like I haven’t had that much fun yet?
I started to think about if my life were made into a movie, what the trailer would look like. If college was supposed to be the highlight of my life, then would it be filled with weird themed parties, arguing over if I can get the next game of beer pong with some sweaty guy, and sitting watching Netflix for hours? Not sure about you, but that’s not exactly what I want to look back on and remember as the best time of my life.
I’m not the biggest drinker and don’t go out all the time, so the “party scene you’ll only ever experience in college” doesn’t really appeal to me all that much. Sometimes I just want to stay in and watch Netflix. And I don’t always need or want to be around people 24/7. Feeling this way at first made me feel like a college underdog – that I wasn’t “doing college” right, or fitting in. I think I’m finally starting to figure out though that college isn’t all about going out or having a ton of friends. You don’t have to go to parties and be constantly surrounded by people to feel like you’re succeeding at this whole college thing.
Sure, friends are great, but college, above all else, is about SELF discovery. These are the 4 years where you start to get a feel of who you are, and maybe who you want to be. So far I’ve discovered I am an awful dancer and I won’t trust the drunk girl who says we are “best friends” the first time I meet her in the bathroom. I’ve learned some pretty great things about myself since I’ve been away at school.
I’m not dissing on friends or telling you to be a complete loner. Friends are great in college, especially if you find the right ones. College is 4 short years, so focus more on surrounding yourself with people who are going to be actual friends. I’m not talking about the people you are friends with in class and then when the semester is over you stop talking, kind of friends. I’m talking about the friends who are going to push you to be the best you can be and who are going to pick up your mess of a self at 4 am somewhere on a Tuesday night. Find these hidden gems of people and hold onto them. They help make college worth the hard work and student loans. And they’re the kind of friends who will stay a part of your life once you graduate.
So many people think once college is done, life is over. That there’s nothing out there for them and they have to work a boring job and live a boring life. But guess what? YOUR LIFE IS JUST BEGINNING. If the average person lives until 70 something and you graduate in your early 20’s, you aren’t even halfway done with your life. How’s that for perspective?
Start looking at college as a stepping-stone to that dream life you have always wanted, whether that’s backpacking the world, becoming a second grade teacher, opening your own restaurant, getting married and becoming a mother, finding the cure for cancer, running for president, whatever. Start climbing rather than thinking you’ve reached your final destination. C’mon, you haven’t reached your peak yet. You aren’t even close. You’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you and it starts when that degree is handed to you.
Photo via Clara Early
the best four years of my life