College is a Time of Exploration



By Kimberly Wei Kim Ngoh, 2019-2020 SCS Student Advising Leader:

College is a time of exploration—figuring out what you want to do post-graduation, discovering who your true friends are and finding what works for you in terms of balancing grades, social life, and sleep. For some of us, though, it may feel like we have yet to get our lives together, while everyone else seems to be on track, hurtling us into a paralyzing, albeit momentarily, existential crisis.

Looking back, college was such an exciting prospect to me. Like most people, I began freshman year high with hopes of replicating friendships it took years to build and expectations that I would enjoy every bit of newfound freedom. Although not applicable to everyone, these expectations can set one up for disappointment. Furthermore, it can be rough trying to live up to the standards you upheld in high school. For a myriad of reasons, freshman year can be a difficult time.

As a sophomore or beyond, it may feel like you no longer get to play the freshman card, having had a whole year or more to adjust to life here. Nevertheless, not knowing what you’ll do for a career, or still feeling lonely sometimes and being unable to get eight hours of sleep while managing a social life and good grades are very valid struggles. Know you are not alone in these struggles...if that is any comfort.

What most of us expect is for life to start working itself out post freshman year. Naturally, this may lead to feelings of panic and incompetence when you hear about your friend receiving multiple job offers or feelings of loneliness and sadness when you crave the security of a trusted friend group, like the one you had in high school. More importantly, the stigma associated with mental health can sometimes push one to suppress their emotions, but the truth is, no one should have to feel nervous, guilty or embarrassed about feeling depressed or anxious.

Recognizing you are hurting, being honest and talking about your problems is certainly no easy feat, but one that is necessary for overcoming its effects. Explaining your experiences to a therapist, a close family member, mentor or friend you trust can be enlightening to possibly achieve further understanding of the issue at hand. The mere act of describing your situation out loud may just lead to revelations that can help you reframe your perspective on your current position.

Do not fret about a job offer that is yet to come or the fact that you don’t even know if this is the right path for you. Everyone moves at their own pace and comparison gets you nowhere. Being mindful and self-aware of what you are going through, and what you can change about your situation will contribute toward your journey of self-discovery, whether it is taking measures to combat your procrastination habits, to cutting out toxic friendships or changing the concentration of your major.