I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry several times in my first couple months of college.
That is not to say I was having a terrible time, I was actually was having a great time. But, when I thought back on every representation of college I had ever seen, my experience looked nothing like that.
I know there are plenty of movies that depict college, but the two coming to mind right now are “22 Jump Street” and “Legally Blonde.” Before I say anything else, I am in no way trashing “Legally Blonde.” I love “Legally Blond.” It was a big factor, probably too big, in my decision to become pre-law.
However, in both “Legally Blonde” and “22 Jump Street,” all of the people portraying college students look well above 35 and are far more attractive than most people I’ve met in college, including myself. I’m aware that in “22 Jump Street,” Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are supposed to be older and undercover, but all the normal college students are also ridiculously old looking.
If you don’t look like Reese Whitherspoon or Channing Tatum by the time you are a senior in college, that’s perfectly OK.
Another misleading component of those movies are the first year living spaces. Usually bright and shiny with cream colored walls and cute window seats, my experience was less than bright and shiny.
Although the Catherine and Monica (CM) cleaning crew were true saints, the actual structure was less than impressive and I had bronchitis not once, not twice but three times my first year. My only saving grace was that little square of antibiotics that the health center gave to everyone regardless of their medical issue known as Z-Packs.
Actually Tatum and Hill’s dorm in “22 Jump Street” is a pretty accurate representation of a first-year dorm. Most notably, the questionable bean bag chair from a thrift store and the unholy trinity of electronics that is a gaming console on top of a microwave, on top of a mini fridge.
For me, the biggest source of insecurity was my social life. I am an extrovert but that does not mean I don’t doubt my friend-making abilities. When you see people in movies immediately going to huge parties and effortlessly making friends in college, it’s a bit daunting.
Especially in the age of fear of missing out (FOMO) and all things social media, you are constantly having every event you didn’t attend or every person you are not friends with thrown back in your face.
Hopefully I am not the first person to tell you that not everything is as it seems with social media. It’s so easy to make anything look like something else, and one of those things in college is that everyone looks like they are having the time of their life.
This was one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned at GU — the true meaning of “the time of your life.” It’s a common expression but does it actually mean the best time of your life?
During one particularly tough cry session, I called my mom. I will spare you the gruesome details of all my complaints and anxieties, and the truth is I don’t even remember exactly what triggered this particular cry, but the gist was that I felt like I was doing college wrong.
My life, my room, my classes and my friends did not look at all like I thought they would. My only thought was that I must be doing it wrong, after all this was supposed to be the time of my life, and that’s exactly what I relayed to my mom.
What she said changed my perspective and I think about it to this day when things are not going exactly as planned. She said college is not the time of your life because everything is fun and perfect and nothing goes wrong ever, it’s the time of your life because you have the lowest of lows and the highest of highs.
So, if at some point this year you find yourself in a low and you feel like things aren’t looking exactly how you thought they would just remember what the time of your life actually means.
It’s the extremes that make it the most complicated, fun, formative and crazy years of your life.