If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say the cliché “everyone changes after just their first term at college. It’s just so different.” I would have a lot less money related stress. The funny part is that no one thinks that it is true. I can honestly say that I didn’t think that it was possible for myself to change this much as a person in just ten short weeks. What’s ironic is that I did. I wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t really notice it at the time, but reflecting back on the last ten weeks it is pretty amazing how the different aspects of college life all play a part.
The most noticeable aspect is life away from home. For the last nineteen years of my life, I have never spent more than a month away from my parents. I have gradually grown more independent over those nineteen years however it is still a strange change leaving. Back home I had a strong support group that encouraged me to succeed and challenge myself. Now I am the only person that is concerned with my life. No one wants to see someone else fail, but we are a bunch of individuals thrown into the same building in the end.
The next big aspect is the responsibility that accompanies college and living alone. All of the sudden clean laundry doesn’t magically appear on my bed and I no longer have a personal talking, self-organizing planner. The course work that never seems to end also adds to that responsibility. As students at college, we are paying for sleep deprivation and stress all for a piece of paper that, if we are lucky, has the letter A on it a couple times.
The third big aspect is that we are all lonely, but never alone. This statement may seem oxymoronic, but it’s not. At college we are constantly surrounded by an entire ocean of individuals most of whom we have no relation to. On occasion you will see someone you recognize and maybe if you are lucky you will have the little awkward “Hey! How are you?” 15 second conversation instead of a wave. These informal chats don’t ever add up to the intimacy that is found talking to a close friend or parent. Even in the dorms, there are constantly people around, but it is still lonely.
These three facets of college life that give everyone so much time to think about who they really are. When you combine the responsibility of living alone, the separation from home, and the lack of a close knit friend group it changes your view on how you live your life. Different things have significance and things that were important no longer have that same priority. This may seem like a bad thing, however change is part of nature.
In the words of How I Met Your Mother, “The future is scary, but you can’t just run back to the past because it’s familiar. Yes, it’s tempting, but it’s a mistake.”
Written by Bruce Bonich, WLLC 2015-2016