Before you start your undergraduate career, everyone tells you to enjoy college because it is going to be the best four years of your life. You’re going to make friends that will last a lifetime. You’ll learn sort of for the sake of just learning and have space to figure out who you are. Well, I’m here to call BS on some of the stuff we were told before and during freshman year.
College was not the best four years of my life. I know, because I’m a few months out and life is pretty great right now. While it’s true that I did make some friends I’m sure will last a lifetime, I also lost some people I never thought I would. Yes, I learned a lot, but that doesn’t mean those all-nighters, expensive books, and classes were all worth it. Did I figure out who I am? Sure. If nothing else, undergrad does allow you to explore who you are. Discover what you like and dislike. Learn what type of people you can and can’t date or be friends with. Question what you were taught growing up and fashion your own worldview if you find that what you learned as a kid doesn’t fit you anymore.
But, college, those four years of undergrad should not be the best years of your life.
To declare that they will be so early on in your lifetime is to disregard all that is to come before you even experience it. To declare that they were when you’re older and have lived a bit more is to have done life wrong.
I recently started graduate school at UPenn. My single, solitary job is to study what I love everyday and figure out ways to enjoy myself while I’m at it. I went back to Cornell this Labor Day weekend and was reminded that the time I spent there, as great as it was, was only the beginning – a stepping stone to all that is to come. In undergrad, I spent way too much time wondering what people thought about me, bending to what I thought I should be/do instead of just being the person that I wanted to be, doubting what I brought to the table, and stressing over where I belonged. And, it sucked while I was going through it, but I’m so immensely glad I did, because I do have a better idea of who I am, what I like, and what I have to offer now. However, Cornell wasn’t and won’t be the best four years of my life. That was never the goal.
I’ve only been adulting for a few months now, but already I can sense that the space I’m in now, albeit harder and full of responsibilities, is infinitely better than the space I left behind. And going back to Cornell did nothing but confirm this. If I’m being honest, I was dreading the trip. I did not want to go back because I did not want to get sucked back into old states of being. I did not want to be reminded of my mistakes and losses. And most of all, I didn’t want relationships with those friends that I’m supposed to have for this lifetime to have changed to some unrecognizable degree. They didn’t.
I think that college is only the best four years of your life if you squander all the rest of the time you’re given. If after graduation, you waste what you learned, lose all your friends, and never pursue your dreams, then sure, those four years of undergrad probably were the best times you’ve ever had. But, if you’ve got the gall to go after what you want and create a life that you love, then those four years were fun but they weren’t the end all be all.
Because here’s the thing, when you operate in your purpose, there is no traffic.
When you are where you prayed to be, because you did your part and had faith, that, that space/place/time, is the best of your life. I hope you find your happy, your best space, like I have found mine. And, I hope that when it’s time to move on, you’ll charge forward, full speed ahead, thanking the past for its gifts, but walking into your future, with feet planted firmly on the ground, your mind open to whatever is to come, and your heart on your sleeve ready to embrace all the love the universe is about to throw your way.
I know I did and it’s paying off in leaps and bounds so far.