If you just graduated high school, then you’re probably in that awkward in-between stage before you head off to college.
Well, if this is the case, then you’ve probably recently felt every possible emotion you could muster–right? Take a deep breath. Laugh off the stress. Try not to throw up from spending all of your open house money on dorm room supplies. It will all be okay because you’re about to embark on the most exhilarating four years of your life thus far.
Here are reasons why college trumps high school and why you should take this new journey with a smile rather than a nervous sweat:
Nobody knows you.
This might sound nerve-wracking to some of you, but it is actually the most ideal situation for this new chapter of your life. Even if you’re going to a college close to your hometown, you will only see those old high school classmates in passing between classes or if you try to go out of your way to spark a high school reunion. Now is the opportunity for you to try new activities, go to different restaurants, embark on new adventures, and meet as many awesome people as you possibly can. College is all about making connections so make this a priority.
Nobody cares if you show up to class in your pajamas.
There have been multiple occasions in which I witnessed students walking into classrooms and lecture halls with not only their pajamas, but also their blankets. You might look strange to some people, but most people are sitting there saying, “You do you. I wish I were that comfy.”
And with that said, nobody cares if you dress nicely.
In high school, if you were to show up in heels, you could never just tell people you had a major presentation to give because how many of those major presentations did we actually have in high school? In college, if you say you have a major presentation, everyone comments on how nice you look. Even if you just want to dress nice, you can tell people this, and they’ll still tell you how awesome you look. Then, you can sing, “I woke up like this” in your head for the rest of the day and slay every meeting, presentation, paper, and exam.
You don’t have to answer to anyone.
Mom and Dad, I love you. Honestly, though, in college, it’s nice being able to come and go as you please. If you want to walk around the mall, then you can walk around the mall. If you want to stay at your best friend’s house until four in the morning, then you can stay at your best friend’s house until four in the morning. Nobody is stopping you from doing what you want. Everyone is simply trying to navigate the adult-ish world so they let you do your own thing.
You feel as though you’re learning worthwhile material.
Right now, the idea of hours of homework probably does not sound appealing; however, you’re going to college to study any field you desire. Once you finish your basic core classes, almost every class you take will be beneficial to your field. Can you imagine actually enjoying the copious amounts of reading material you will have every night? Well, imagine it now because you’ll be living it soon.
You can make somewhat bad decisions without the world falling apart.
Can you pull an all-nighter before a 9 a.m. test on a Wednesday morning? Sure. Go for it! Can you order pizza at 3 a.m. with your closest friends without feeling bad about it? Why not? Go for it! College is all about making decisions, and then you decide whether or not they were good decisions. Taylor Swift once said in her song New Romantics, “Honey, life is a classroom.” This is evident in every situation. You test out a theory, a decision, a fashion move, and then you figure out if you pass or fail. Except, here, the decision is yours.
It’s completely okay to try that new thing you’ve always wanted to try.
Have you thought about writing for a newspaper? Join the staff. Have you ever wanted to study abroad? Look into the different programs your school has to offer. Have you ever wanted to join the Quidditch team? Find a broomstick and go to the practices. Colleges have such an array of opportunities, and it’s completely normal if you join a club or group without having any prior experience. Most of the time, when you tell people you have no idea how to do the particular activity, everyone is super excited to teach you and show you the way. P.S. GO TO THE ACTIVITY FAIR. I cannot stress this enough. You’ll meet new people, exchange emails with the clubs you want to join, and get a better idea of what your university has to offer.
Hopefully, you’re excited for college. These next four years can either become the greatest four years of your life so far or they can be lonely. The choice is yours. You simply have to go out there and grasp every opportunity in your path.
“I developed a bad habit of just letting things happen to me instead of going after what I really want.”
– One Tree Hill
More often than not, we let this happen. We allow everything in our lives to become hectic, crazy, and emotional, when, really, we are in control of our own lives. We control how we respond to situations, and we control how we move forward in our own lives. At the end of the day, though, what do you really want?
Do you want to change your major? Are you trying to get that promotion? What about dating? Is something holding you back from dating a specific person? Do you want to travel, see the world, and experience different cultures?
Every day, we have a choice. We can wake up, smile, and tackle the world or we can go back to bed and avoid the emotional chaos that seems to occupy our minds. We’re all given the choice. We choose to either go after what we want or we choose to lose our ways and allow problematic situations bury us. It all comes down to one characteristic: drive. Without drive, we choose to allow these people to force us to answer their every beck and call, while we simply brush it aside and say it’s because we care about these people.
Even though we say this is out of love or we say we refrain from acting upon our decisions because we want to avoid confrontation and hurt, we’re really only hurting one person in the process: our individual selves. We allow our dreams and our goals to be brushed aside for the sake of someone else’s happiness, but this isn’t how we were designed. We were designed to take risks.
By taking risks, we learn how to understand the difference from right and wrong, we learn to cherish special moments, and we learn how to go after what we want. At the end of the day, we can either remember the moments in which we felt inferior to others around us or we can remember those great leaps of faith we took. In these impulsive leaps, we find what our heart truly desires.
If we don’t go after what our hearts truly desire, then what do we have left?
Don’t fall for the adventurous girl.
She doesn’t form close relationships with many people because she understands the feeling of love and loss. When she bounces around between places and events, she enjoys deep conversations in which she can enhance her intellect, but she chooses to distance her heart. As long as she distances herself, she doesn’t feel the tremendous impact from each loss. She enjoys only staying in one place for a short period of time because she knows she will not grow attached, and she can gain new experiences from each new place.
She is at first skeptical when she meets you because she has been left before. It’s nothing you did, but, rather, something someone else has previously done. She once put her all into someone who could not handle her divine intensity. Because of this, she does not take trust lightly.
She doesn’t threaten you. No, it’s not a violent type of intensity. Rather, it’s the way she tries hearing the truth between each breath and the way she tries seeing the hurt through your eyes. She understands pain, and she understands happiness. They coincide with each other in each day she lives.
She gets easily bored by the typical dinner-and-a-movie dates. While the sun is shining and the grass is swaying, she wants to cover each step of earth in which her bare feet leave warm footprints. When the moon gently replaces the sun, she wants to let her eyes wander through the swirling paths of the stars. She feels a gravitational pull toward feeding her wanderlust. Because of this, she wishes to see new places out of her comfort zone.
She will take you to new places. Not only will you see novel landscapes and vivid horizons, but she’ll also show you the beauty in the everyday places you see without her. Then, when she is no longer with you, you’ll taste her deep untamable spirit as though it is blood on the roof of your mouth. Its bitterness will remind you of how she held your hand through each new chapter of your lives together, but then soon left.
She belongs to no one. Her family and friends are important to her, and they remain at the top of her list, but she also understands the concept of letting loved ones go. She knows she was brought up to be the strong, fierce woman she is, and she will use these qualities to venture into the world. Her family and friends understand her definite need for anything against the norm, and they’ve prepared themselves for the time when she chooses to fly on her own.
She doesn’t sit back while someone else takes the lead. She enjoys exploring on her own and if someone else chooses to accompany her, then she enjoys this, too. She does not, however, enjoy sitting back while someone else takes on his own battles and explorations. She believes if someone else can pursue his dreams and his ambitions, then she should do the same. If it’s meant to be, then they will meet up once their travels reach a close, and they will share their tales of adventure.
She seems as though she is too stubborn to settle down. This term of “settling down” is precisely why she refuses to date someone who believes in this societal norm. In her eyes, when she finds the right person, she won’t feel as though she’s settling. She’ll feel as though each day presents her with a new journey to tackle and a new page for her book of adventures.
She will leave you with fond memories and a new zest for life. You will no longer look at the rain and think of everything you could do if the weather hadn’t decided to ruin your day. Instead, you’ll smell the wet grass and observe the shapes of the clouds. You’ll remember her positive outlook on life. Even when everything around her seemed chaotic or crumbling, she always found a way to smile.
She will remain in your life. You’ll remember her when her favorite song plays on the radio or you see her favorite food on the menu. You’ll remember her when you play the song you once wrote for her or you read her favorite literary quote.
You’ll remember her during those little moments in life when you least expect it. In those little moments when she was able to find the brightest sparks of life, you’ll remember her.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always had this insane desire to travel and see every facet of the world on which I could place my pixie-sized bare feet. It slowly emerged into something more than a want. It was a need. I needed to breathe new air, see the different hues of the earth’s sky, and smell the different aromas of foods with names I couldn’t even fathom or pronounce.
Throughout high school, it seemed as though it was a distant dream. Honestly, it didn’t even seem possible. I heard stories about people traveling to different countries and continents, but I never imagined I would reach the point in my life in which I would actually begin planning for those types of trips. I was too worried about what I should study in college and which school I should attend. As a fifteen-year-old, I had a small array of career choices in front of me and I sifted back and forth between the three of them: lawyer, journalist, and struggling writer. These ranged from the most reliable of careers to the career I actually wanted.
I didn’t want to be poor, but we all have to make sacrifices, right?
Still, in the back of my mind, images of Parisian streets, luscious Irish greenery, cobbled streets in England, sunny Los Angeles beaches, and bustling New York City streets kept me from making any definite choices. These were all clichéd images I held, though, because I had never actually been to any of these places. That’s the problem with being the girl with wanderlust. You have this desire and this need to travel so you make it a priority to do so, but you’ve never actually been anywhere yet.
These images simply float through your mind because photographers and travelers from all around the world have already lived the lives you want to experience so you try easing your thirst by saving their experiences in your memory.
When people ask where you want to be after college, you simply say, “Anywhere.”
It no longer matters. You could be in a dumpy one-bedroom apartment in New York City or you could live in a beach shack with four roommates, and it still wouldn’t matter. You simply want to be anywhere else because you don’t want to waste one moment stuck in one place for too long. Life is too short and the world is too large so you’ll sacrifice fighting over the shower or you’ll sacrifice cleanliness by living in an overwhelming cloud of dirt in order to see the world.
You don’t have one set image of your dream career.
You don’t know if you’ll be in an office in the United States or if you’ll be on location in Europe. You honestly have no idea where you’ll be, but you have an idea of what makes you happy. When you know what makes you happy, you chase after it until you can permanently hold on to it.
Money isn’t an issue.
In life, we need money. However, when it comes to what you want to do with your career, you simply want to see everything. Even if your job paid the basic necessities of travel and hostel fees while you were on location, you would find a way to eat and drink in order to survive. Viewing the world will be the way you energize and fuel your body.
Settling down in one location for the rest of your life makes you feel as though you’re suffocating.
With such a vast world, how could anyone stay put in one location? You feel as though you could spend those valuable years traveling from one place to the next, meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and finally seeing those picturesque moments you would always drool over on the Internet.
Getting through college is simply part of the process.
You honestly have no idea if you’ll end up using the topics you’re studying in your classes. Who knows if you’ll need to know who conquered which country and when? All you know is if you graduate with your degree and you’re somewhat experienced in your chosen field, then you will find a way to survive and make your life work.
You want a permanent vacation.
You don’t want to wake up everyday needing a vacation from your own life. You want your entire life to be a vacation.
If she doesn’t make you want to jump out of bed every morning, then let her go.
If she doesn’t make you thank God for her every time she smiles, then let her go.
If you don’t feel a desperate need to call her after not talking to her all day, then let her go.
If you don’t want to make all her dreams come true, then let her go.
If the thought of her crying alone at night doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach, then let her go.
If you find yourself noticing other women, then let her go.
If you no longer feel compelled to show her how much you love her, then let her go.
If you can’t imagine waking up to her every morning, then let her go.
If you don’t imagine sharing your last name with her, then let her go.
If you don’t find yourself dreaming about what your future children would look like, then let her go.
If the thought of sharing your last breath with her as you hold her dry and aged hands doesn’t make you want to make every moment count, then let her go.
Settling. That’s what we call it, right? We graduate from college, find ourselves in our careers, and then we’re supposed to find our spouses. We’re supposed to settle down. We’re supposed to have this false image of finding the person we’re going to spend the rest of our lives with because we’re told that moment will be the moment in which we settle down.
Ponder this: You notice a friend of a friend, a coworker, or even a stranger from across the room. You talk, laugh, and then maybe make plans to have your first date. You suddenly realize you haven’t felt this sudden surge of butterflies or this carefree air about you since you were in college or maybe even high school. You begin to remember this person’s mannerisms, the way this person laughs, and the feeling you get when this person calls you after a hectic day at work.
Eventually, you find yourself falling in love with this person.
Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and so on.
Eventually, you find yourself on the brink of marrying this person.
Settling down. That’s what they’ve always called it.
What if this person doesn’t make you feel as though you’re settling? What if you thank God every night because you realize He could not have blessed you with someone who makes you feel this inspired? This is how it should be. If you feel as though you’re settling, then you probably feel as though you do not have the patience to wait for that person who will make you want to soar through the sky, venture around the sun, and speed through the stars. You probably feel as though this person is safe, the easy way out, and will give you the by-the-book instructions on how to get married, have kids, and make the rest of your family happy.
If you feel as though you’re settling, let her go.
She does not deserve to spend the rest of her life with someone who feels as though he is settling.
She deserves the man who will not only support her in everything she does daily, but also someone who will encourage her to do more than she deems possible.
She deserves someone who will stand by her when she’s crying because she didn’t get the internship she had always dreamed of having.
She deserves someone who lifts her up, both physically and emotionally, because he doesn’t want her to ever feel as though she’s stuck on the ground and rooted to doing anything mediocre.
She deserves someone who wants to scream on the sidelines of her life while she tackles all of life’s obstacles because he knows she is strong enough to do it all on her own.
She deserves someone who wants to surprise her because he always wants to add the extra zest to her life.
She deserves someone who sings with her in the car even though they both know they belong nowhere near American Idol or even karaoke night at the local bar.
She deserves someone who recites all her favorite book quotes because he knows her heart will always reside in the lives of the literary.
She deserves someone who opens doors for her and walks her to her door because he knows she would do the same.
She deserves someone who asks about her day because he genuinely cares about her life outside of their relationship.
She deserves to feel wanted as much as she wants you back, and if you can’t give her this, then you know what to do.
Let her go.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.