Change is hard – graduation is somehow harder. I chose to write this in Poppa even though I don’t have any work to do, simply because I don’t know where else to put myself. Every place on this campus simultaneously feels lonely and flooded with every memory of the past 1,365 days between arriving for WOA and graduation. But you know all of that. Graduating is like a break-up, you can’t go home again, life will never be the same – yada, yada, you’ve been told it all more eloquently than I could do so. What we don’t talk about is that college, too, can be hard. I don’t mean in terms of balancing work – the tradeoff between TNR and a midterm isn’t exactly life or death. What I mean is that college is where I became who I am – and that is mentally draining, emotionally exhaustive, hard work.
Doubt is the inextricable feeling that accompanies the process of figuring yourself out. It’s impossible not to doubt your place with your friends, your school, or your future. That’s exhausting. We’ve talked a lot lately about protecting your mental health, and part of that is making yourself comfortable. I spent a lot of time with doubt over the past four years – here’s what I’ve got to hope you don’t have to:
You Are Not Faking it As Much As You Think You Are
I spent all of college thinking I was just scraping by. Somehow doing just fine, without ever learning as much as everyone else must be. I thought if anyone asked me a question about my area of study I would flounder like the faker I was. Walking around college for four years wondering if anyone is going to discover that you don’t actually know anything is terrifying. It’s a scary paranoia, and one that I recently realized I was not alone in.
It took me until the final month of senior year to realize that I actually learned something in college. I am not hanging off of the cliff of understanding, and I should probably stop assuming that I’m miles behind. Don’t let it take you till the last month of college, too.
Your Friends Are Multi-Dimensional And So Are You
We’ve been trained by Buzzfeed lists and memes to believe that all of our friends fit convenient categories; the nerd, the fashionista, the one that lives for TNR. But part of the beauty of CMC is that no person can be pigeonholed to any one of these things. Try and remember that your nerdy friend wants to go to pub some days (no? I’m the only one that likes pub? okay), and your party friend is nerdy about something.
The beauty of a school so amazing is that no one can fit neatly into a token anything. They can’t fit into singular stereotypes, and they certainly can’t fit into 6 words. When we don’t acknowledge our friends do anything outside of what we expect from them, we keep them from developing those parts of themselves. If college is where we become who we are, let’s not limit who we can be.
You Have to Ask For What You Want or the Universe Won’t Know You Want It
I often gripe that CMC doesn’t teach students to simply ask for what they want. I am NOT talking about at TNC. But whether it’s in your friendships or for jobs, if you don’t tell someone you want to do something, there is no reason for them to let you. Don’t expect your dream job to come knocking because you dropped your cover letter into some online vortex.
You have to show people you want something before they believe you. That might mean emailing the CEO or the recruiter (pro-tip: follow up after two days, a week, and two weeks…then give up), and it might mean asking that kid you think is cool in your science GE to go to sushi cruise with you – but it definitely means that you are responsible for getting what you want.
Don’t Force It
There are some things in life that are finite. The most important one is your time. It took me until junior year to realize not everyone is going to be someone I have a connection with. I spent a lot of time in college hanging out with people who I just wasn’t meant to be friends with. A lot of that came from the fact that I was a little late in realizing that liking one person in a group doesn’t mean you’re going to like them all.
Realizing this, and shedding friendships that just didn’t make sense, made me infinitely happier. It’s rarely a clean break, and it’s often awkward for a while after, but you have only 24 hours in a day, so spend them with people you honestly love being around.
Don’t Assume You Are Doing It Wrong
In four years of college I did a lot of things differently than my friends. It can feel very isolating to not want to go to on the trips your friends do or liking the same other groups of people they do. It’s frustrating to realize that just because you love your friends doesn’t mean you’re going to love all the same things.
It’s strange to think that in a school of 1,200 people everyone has such different experiences. But while all the graduating seniors are going to miss CMC, they’re all going to miss a different CMC: some will miss the basketball team, some will miss ASCMC, and some will miss playing snappa on Green Beach. It’s okay to hate music festivals or beaches and love naps at Scripps pool and the library cafe – just do you.
There’s a lot of growing to do in college. But to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with doubt. A friend once told me there was beauty in sadness and in being scared – I didn’t believe her then, but now on the cusp of graduation I know she was right. Graduation comes with its fair share of all of those feelings, but that’s okay. I have a crippling fear of what’s to come, but CMC has forced me into an unreasonable faith in myself. I love you CMC, and I cannot describe how much this breaks my heart, but the future is calling and there’s already a housing crunch on this campus.