I recently opened up my email inbox and read through the new Edit newsletter of the New York Times. It started out with a Stanford student's contribution in the form of an article asking "Is Everybody Really Doing It?" His question concerns students' sex life and what our expectations versus realities of college life are. What I loved about his piece was that he was nonetheless comfortable with his college life - even if it did not live up to all his expectations. But I know that this is not true for everyone.
Many of us have this idea of what our college experience will be like and it is almost inevitable that some of our expectations will be crushed, but others might be exceeded. Your college experience is whatever you make it - you can make it one of disappointed expectations or one of unforeseen adventures.
What I find the most important thing when reflecting on one's college experience is that we are comfortable with the way we live(d) it. Personally, I am currently living my college life in a way that would probably not appeal to most people whose expectations of college are based on movies about American sororities and college parties. But I am quite happy with it because I chose to spend my time like this. Making a list of the things I want to achieve in this year and committing to it has helped me choose a lifestyle that suits me. I would highly recommend thinking about what you want to get out of your college experience (aside from your degree) and to then adjust your lifestyle to these goals. This ensures that you do not fall into a pattern out of convenience and then leave college, realising that you did none of the things you went to college for. Think about your personal reasons for going to college and then chase them.
Reviewing your goals and progress is equally important as setting your goals. Make sure that you are on track and if you are not, ask yourself why. Is it because you need to practice more self-discipline or is it because that goal is no longer a goal of yours? Do not be afraid to edit and re-edit your goals over and over and over. When you go to college and you are in your late teens or early twenties, you are allowed to change your mind.
But make sure that you are comfortable along the way. One of the things I have often heard from my peers is that they feel pressured to go to certain events or do something because many of their friends are doing it. Most of us feel like this sometimes. But most of the time, the pressure is self-created. As Courtney Barnett sang, nobody really cares if you don't go to the party. Staying in your room with a hot chocolate and your favourite Netflix show is not being anti-social - it is taking care of yourself. Everybody enjoys different things and if you prefer a night in over a night in the club, then that is absolutely fine.
While many would agree with what I just said, many nonetheless hesitate to voice their discomfort. I learned in my final high school year that there is no reason to be ashamed of not wanting to go out. When I entered my senior year, I decided to be brutally honest about how I wanted to spend my time because I had become more and more aware of the fact that I had only one year in Hong Kong left. I honestly told people when I felt like being alone and when I wanted company. And their reaction? Nobody was mad and everybody respect my choices. Some even told me that they wished they had the guts to do this as well. If you are afraid of people's reactions to your feelings, give yourself some fake courage for three seconds and tell them anyway. You might be surprised by how understanding they are. Their reaction to this also helps you understand who your good friends are, so do not be shy to try it!
Consider this your little reminder to be yourself - unapologetically, honestly, and courageously. You got this.
If you would like to see how my college life has been for the past weeks, here is my latest vlog:
Lots of love,