Rachael is a currently striving to reach her pipe dream of becoming a professional screen write as a sophomore at the University of Central Florida. When she’s not busy freelancing or submitting sort stories to writing competitions (and, you know, studying occasionally), she writes about her hobbies and other such sillyness in her blog (radarjay.tumblr.com). You can also reach her through Twitter (https://twitter.com/ponacce) or Facebook!
College is weird. You’re young, out of your element, eager to test out our chops at independence and find our own cozy nook at university life. It’s a pretty nerve wracking time. You’re well in the process of starting a new, secretly terrifying phase in your life, and tons of changes are happening at a break-neck pace, not all necessarily for the best. Despite this, you are ludicrously excited, and try to put your best face forward.
Unfortunately, as you’ll more or less quickly find out, despite all of those long prep courses and lectures on what to expect from your college experience and how to make the best of it, you’re most definitely gonna find yourself more than a little doe-eyed as surprises turn on their high beams from unexpected places. But enough with long winded metaphors and gilding the lily. Here’s a little list of some weird and common obstacles to look out for during your years away from family pets and home cooking.
College kids are vulnerable. And dumb. Oh so dumb. But you’ll figure that out soon enough. And you know who likes to prey on gullible, desperate people with uncertain incomes? Pretty much everyone, and especially people who manage to slip under the nose of the law through sneaky ways. Multi-level marketing schemes, if you prefer the legal title, may contact you through desperate recruiters or with contact information that they got through nefarious ways, and invite you to a special seminar. They lure and woo you in with promises of fun and relatively easy work, usually while flaunting a ludicrous pay check for the “hard workers”. And don’t forget the awesome experience and resume building. They ask you to buy a certain product that you’ll never manage to pay off and become part of their sales team, and you know the rest. It’s not necessarily the stupid and gullible that are suckered in, either. These people know their audience, and all you need is to be a bit naïve in the ways of the world and strapped for money to be played like a sweet, sweet flute. Like… you know. Freshmen.
Figuring out what kind of living arrangement you like
You’re a first year, wide eyed and bushy tailed, observing your new living quarters and talking things through with your new roommates and getting your stuff set up. Everything’s fine, save for those weird smells coming from this one corner in the room, when you hear what sounds like a snare drum parade accompanied by marauding elephants from upstairs. And then it just keeps going. And going. You’re not getting enough sleep, and within a week, things start falling apart with your roommates as THEY start hosting the elephant parade. You also start to feel weird and sick because you either are buying exclusively junk food for yourself, or, if you so happen to have a meal plan, eat at weird times and try to figure out just how long you can survive off the few eatable things they dish out in the cafeteria. My long winded point here is that learning how to take care of yourself and figuring out just what kind of environment you’re comfortable isn’t something that high school kids typically think about when moving out. Adjusting yourself with simple things, like feeding yourself PROPERLY and finding out how you’re not going to go crazy during the time behind those four walls is intrinsic to your college experience and performance. Really, it’s more important than you’d think.
You’re just as lost as everyone else
As aforementioned, college is an intimidating, weird new phase in your life. It’s young adulthood at its fiercest, with growing pains abound, and you’re fostering independence in a time where you’re learning and changing more about yourself every day. Naturally, you want to make the best decisions for yourself and the future, wherever that may be, but you don’t necessarily know what to do or where to go. On top of that, you’re still adapting to the whole college life thing. But part of this weird slow explosion of growth is learning one simple fact about young-adulthood: you’re in a nest of lost little birdies, and that this romanticized university life that you’ve held in your heart with visions of happy and cool people on the fast track to success and finding their place in the world is laden BS, which is a nice little segway for:
Total existential crisis
More often than not, you form new identities and ideas as you foster independence so many miles away from home. Even more so then back in high school. During these university days, you’re constantly extending little tendrils into pretty much every new experience and idea possible. This leads to forming new perceptions about the world and people, shirking off some of that kiddish naivety, etc. etc. You also kinda wanna see where you fit into this big new world that you’re learning about. Soon enough, you have all of these strange, terrifying thoughts and fears. Fears of inadequacy and failure, fears that you just don’t have a place in your set path, and general worry about making certain huge decisions. Or maybe you feel totally lost in this world, with no direction at all, which is all only fodder to:
Failures are hard. Sometimes, you fall right on your hinny when things are at their most crucial, and the stresses start getting to you. Things aren’t going well and you don’t feel like you really have anyone to talk to. You’re lost, and you can’t really open up to your friends and that family of yours isn’t exactly being helpful either. So, you look for distractions to whatever else is going on, whether it’s through some hobby or down a bottle. And through all of these failures and difficulties come all sorts of ugly spirals. It’s a common feeling, but here’s the thing. Failure is a necessary part of growth, and it in part forms the kind of person you will be. But shutting yourself out, spiraling, discouraged by setbacks and the whole existential crisis thing isn’t going to help a lick. It’s not necessarily always as easy as just getting up and seeing what you can do for yourself, but it’s certainly a good start.