Less than a week into my college freshman experience, I sent this chain of texts: “i hate it here” followed by “i’ve never been so lonely in my entire life” then “this is awful.”
Let’s get candid for a second: I am not loving college so far. Before I picked a school, I made a handy list of everything I wanted for my college experience – a big city, a big school, an accredited film program. I picked a school that had all of those traits, and I got here and realized that maybe I didn’t want that.
The thing is, the city is really big. The school is really big. The film program is filled with film kids, and I’m not sure where I fit in. All the California kids here have beautiful features and talk about proper highway routes to take, and I am overwhelmed. I was told the only solution to my problems was it takes time.
I’m not saying that it takes time is bad advice, per se. But, it doesn’t seem especially helpful in the moment. I am not focusing on the future; I am focusing on the right now. I don’t want to hear about how happy and well-adjusted I’ll be by my senior year; I want lifetime friendships now. I want that experience of beginning a new, perfect chapter. Isn’t college supposed to be the best years of my life?
I think the major problem with adjusting to college is not necessarily the loneliness or the homesickness – I think it’s the way that college is perceived. I have always heard that I’ll meet some of my best friends for life in college. Teen movies hype up college as the place where the outcast can finally learn to truly be herself. College is put up on a pedestal as this great thing where everyone leaves home and is finally happy and fulfilled. Regardless, I don’t feel especially happy or fulfilled.
I know that this experience isn’t universal. Some of my friends already love college; they know that they’re in the right place, and they’re having a blast. However, for those who don’t feel that way, this is for you. For all those who aren’t living the ideal college experience, this is for you. For those who question whether they picked the right school; for those whose teeth hurt every day because of all the sugar they’re consuming; for those who struggled to set up a basic printer for several days; for those who have cried during class; for those who already can’t keep up with the homework; for those who are worried they’ll never live up to the model standard of what a college experience should be – this is for you.
I know that all of this sounds really pessimistic. So, I just want to make a note. I have more friends now than I did when I sent that text. I don’t eat alone at lunchtime anymore. I’ve joined a few clubs that I really like. Slowly, I’m starting to see that the school I’ve picked isn’t so bad – that maybe I could really like it here; that first impressions aren’t always reliable.
I’m starting to gain some perspective on it takes time. It’s hard in the moment, and it’s still hard now, but I think it’s important for anyone struggling to step back and realize that sometimes, you can’t force yourself to live up to what you think college should be; sometimes, you just have to step back and realize that it takes time.