I Don’t Love College
On The Keen Kind this month, many of the blog posts will center around one common theme: change. From the subtleties of altering friendships to the small adjustments in daily habits to the seismic shifts in personal aspirations, our articles will touch on the many feathers that sprout from "change."
Today, I am sharing a guest post with you. Originally written in 2016, this narrative explores feeling stunted, seeking solutions, hitting a wall, and equipping oneself with the tools needed to break through it.
I Don’t Love College
By Eva G.
When I graduated high school in 2011, I was beyond excited to leave for college. So excited, that I’m pretty sure I annoyed the crap out of my poor, patient family.
I packed my room about a week before I left and forced my parents to wake up at 5am on the day of move in so that we could make the three-hour drive to be at the dorm right at 8am. So annoying.
I arrived at university bright eyed and bushy tailed with a good GPA and an idiotic belief that my four-year plan to graduate and move on to Physician Assistant school in Oregon would go off without a hitch.
Five years later, my GPA has been completely shot to shit and I am just now preparing for graduation with absolutely no plan for my future. So that’s fun.
Turns out, that life can get weird really fast in college and everything can go downhill at an alarming rate. Next thing you know, your Mom thinks you’re depressed and your Dad is asking if you’re a lesbian.
Here’s what happened…
It started pretty small. The girls in my dorm revealed themselves to be the mean, cliche sorority girls everyone warned me about, but they were kind enough to wait until after I made plans to live with them the following year.
The guys weren’t that much better either.
I grew up in a small town was in class with the same people from 6th to 12th grade, so I was excited to meet some guys who weren’t around when I hit puberty and hadn’t figured out what “style” was. Turns out, all these "college" guys were either trying to make their super dysfunctional relationships work with their girlfriends who were still in high school, or referred to themselves as, “a bro, but not like, a lacrosse bro.” Spoken like a true winner.
None of this is even that bad, boys are easy to shake off. And luckily, in my sophomore year, three of my best friends from home transferred to CSU and I met my two other besties, forming a little circle of my own, personal Beyoncés.
Everything was great for a while, but as the semesters went on I suddenly started to feel anxious about my future and grew restless in my major. My original college plan began to unravel until soon it was changing on a weekly basis and eventually everything went out the window.
I started jumping around to different majors, trying to find something that clicked with me. Unfortunately, these field trips soon cost me my four-year graduation date. I began to feel trapped in school and was desperately trying to figure out a new, perfect plan so I could get out.
At this point the only thing about my future that I could be sure of was that there would be laundry to do and some bills to pay.
Soon, my focus in my classes started to fade and my academic performance tanked, taking my GPA with it. I even got a few concerned emails from some professors. I thanked them for their concern and mentioned something about working through some personal issues, though even I wasn’t sure what said "issues" may be.
Suddenly I felt like I was moving in slow motion and everyone else had figured something out that I was missing.
My sweet, beautiful friends who I love dearly complained about getting B’s while I was failing entire classes. I couldn’t help but compare myself to them and eventually started to find it difficult to connect with them. They were off getting their teaching licenses and scholarships for their art and academic performance. Meanwhile, I was in my room eating a kit-kat and watching The Office for the third time because it was easier than dealing with another draining and rejecting day on campus.
When I tried to talk to my friends about feeling behind and like I had no idea what I was doing, they assured me they were just as lost as I was, but it didn’t look that way. With their perfect GPA’s and resumes that could make a Harvard grad blush, I just couldn’t understand how they could relate to how I was feeling. So I did what any mature adult would do; withdrew, stopped talking about my feelings and ran away to New Zealand for a month.
It worked for a minute, in New Zealand I did almost nothing but eat brie, drink rosé, and sit on a beach for four-weeks. I thought I had hit a reset button on my mental health and enthusiasm for school and that all my problems would be solved forever when I returned to the States. A melt-down in a cheap Sydney hotel room proved otherwise.
When I got back home, I picked up the papers that I needed to take a planned leave from school, in other words, drop out. To be honest, I have no idea why I never filed them. My wonderful parents supported the idea without blinking and I had brilliant plans of making money, working out and reading books. I would resemble some strong female lead in a movie that really has it together until some guy comes along and messes everything up, minus the guy though because feelings are gross. But for some reason, I never pulled the trigger and showed up for the first day of class.
I envisioned the upcoming semester as this big brick wall that I just had to break through, that this semester was going to be my come back and I was totally going to kick its ass. Instead, it kicked mine and I failed another class. It was more discouraging than I can say and I just wanted to take a nap for nine years instead of carrying on with college. But I was desperate to graduate so I enrolled in summer classes.
That brick wall is an asshole. But you just have to find your way through it. Go up, over, under, around, it doesn’t matter you just have to get through it no matter what. Prove to yourself that you can do it because let me tell you, victory is sweet my friend. When I began my summer classes, I didn’t have any big expectations. I told myself to ride the next few months like a wave and see where I ended up. Finally, I got A’s again and started preparing for my final year of college. I found my way through the wall, to graduation, and I have some totally unsolicited advice on how to I made that happen.
As someone who refuses to discuss feelings unless I have had one too many glasses of wine, I may not have any credibility here but whatever. I found out I couldn’t talk to my friends about some things so I went to a therapist instead and it was awesome. It really helps to talk to someone that wants to listen to your thoughts and won’t judge you for being a middle class individual, benefiting from white privilege complaining about college, an opportunity so many people don’t have. I also learned some really important things about certain relationships that was pretty profound and life changing, so I defiantly recommend it. Odds are your school will offer some kind of free counseling sessions as part of your tuition, so take advantage of them. And if anyone ever tries to give you crap about seeing a therapist, throw a clump of dirt in their face. They obviously suck and probably need therapy more than anyone.
Second, take a break.
I don’t care how passionate you are about what you are doing or learning in school, your mind and body is going to need a second away from it. Listen to what your body is telling you. When you start feeling tired, don’t be a hero and push through it, just go take a damn nap.
Finally, screw the plan.
If something isn’t working out exactly as you hoped it would, just relax and lean into it. Things are going to get screwed up a million times and in a million different ways from now until you die so get use to it. Having a plan is not everything; maybe just have a general idea or an outline. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know where you want to end up, but don’t get caught up in the details of getting there. And when something does going wrong, take a beat, readjust and look for the humor in everything because I promise you’ll find it, and eventually you’ll get exactly where you need to go.