By Tessa Castor
It’s crazy to think that I’m nearly halfway through my college experience.
I grew up with two brothers who were 8 and 12 years older than me. I remember looking at them when they were 20 years old and thinking they were grown-ups who had their lives entirely figured out. Their high school graduations had propelled them into adulthood, and they knew what they were going to be doing for the rest of their lives. Now, I’m 20 years old, and it sometimes feels like I have to fool myself into thinking my life is put together. I learned how wrong I was about my brothers’ lives when I ended up in the same positions they had once been in.
College kids always seemed so old when I was young. Just years from being on my own, it is surreal to realize that I am the same age as those college students I once looked up to. I’m old enough to gamble and smoke and pay rent, but I don’t feel like much older than 8. In two and a half years, I’m supposed to be ready for the next step – the “real” world, or grad school – and I’m supposed to know that whatever step I take is going to help get me into a career one day.
As each month passes, I realize more and more how not-put-together college students are. We don’t know what we’re doing, and we don’t know what we will be doing when we leave SC. Some students are more open about this, and others pretend to know exactly what they want and what they’re going to get from their lives.
They’re lying to you.
No one has it figured out – not us, not our professors, not our parents. We are all doing our best to carry our weight and figure our lives out, and some have their lives figured out more than others.
I have heard of students who change their majors nearly half a dozen times, and I’ve heard of students who leave their sports after three years of being on the team. I’ve heard my roommates contemplate changing their major – a couple actually did – and I’ve seen school wear down even the strongest students.
Regardless of how put-together we may be or appear to be, we all have moments of confusion and anxiety – we’re in college, after all. We’re anywhere from three and a half years to half a year from real “adulthood,” and we’ve all felt lost.
I always figured I’d have my life figured out when I got to college. I’d know what I’d major in, what activity I’d be a part of, and what I’d want to do after graduation. That assumption was unrealistic.
College is learning to operate day-by-day, and accept that you can never truly plan for tomorrow. College is acting confident about a path that you’re on, but knowing that that path could change over the next couple of months. College is accepting the idea that you may need to change your major, and you may need to change your activity, and you may even need to change your school. College is learning to put yourself and your goals first, at least for the four-ish years you’re here. College is about finding an idea of your dreams and aspirations, and placing yourself on the path to achieve those dreams.
Feeling unsure about things is okay. Feeling unsure shows us that we actually care about the path our life takes. Feeling unsure shows passion and a need for belonging. Feeling unsure proves that we are human, and we don’t have the answers for everything.
Growing up isn’t figuring out the meaning of life. Growing up is realizing that life is absolutely ridiculous, and that there isn’t anything we can do but roll with what we’re given. Our grades, our activities and even our majors don’t determine our value. Growing up is learning that we determine our own value by how we react to the randomness of life – because life is random, and you can’t prepare for it.
Tessa Castor is a sophomore majoring in English. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.