I’ll start with my own story.
When I started college 8 months ago, I believed I had everything figured out. I thought I was smarter and more successful than everybody in the college I attend, simply because I run a well-known up and coming blog, and some could say I was semi-famous in Chicago. I got to college, and immediately didn’t like it.
I was homesick, and I couldn’t seem to fit into the social scene of this new environment. For a person who was usually independent and thought she had everything figured out, this new found doubt was like a slap in the face. On top of that, EVERYTHING that could have went wrong in my life DID, like a domino effect. Every week it was something new such as…
- My relationships with my parents declined
- I was no longer financially independent
- I lost friends
- Relatives died
- And I landed on academic probation.
From August until now, a lot of things happened, a lot of which I can honestly say I brought upon myself. I landed in a deep depression, that I’m just now starting to break. While I’ve came to terms and forgiven most of what has happened, It’s still some some struggles I face, that I’m sure many of us face. See, most people think a college student’s struggle only has to do with being able to pay for books or not but it goes beyond that. The struggle of a college student is not only financial, but psychological and social as well.
Let’s be real. Not too many of us come from families where they have resources to support our futures. Using the example of myself, I came from a single parent home. Though I never lived in a two parent home, my mom and dad worked a few jobs to support me in life, but when it came to college, we were not prepared. The true colors about your family’s financial situation always comes out when you decide to go to college. Your parents will not always be able to help you. Not because they don’t want to, but simply because they can’t. They have to survive too, with bills and other responsibilities that surpass the importance of you, and unfortunately, the things that you need are minuscule. Taking it even further, say if you land on academic probation like myself. The consequence of that is I ended up losing a grant and a loan from my financial aid. I’m also unemployed. I can’t go to my family members and pay out of pocket for school, especially for fucking up grades wise. On the other hand, even if you make good grades in college, I know for a fact your financial situation isn’t easy. Your GPA can be perfect, but financial aid can give you absolutely nothing. Your parents may even make enough money to pay out of pocket, but with the way this economy is set up, it’s practically impossible due to bills, mortgages, etc. So yes, you’ll find yourself stressing wondering how you’re gonna get a job, and how you’re gonna pay for your books, and how you’re gonna eat, or participate in certain events.
As if struggling financially wasn’t enough, I found myself struggling socially as well.
College is definitely a socially catastrophic environment. I have watched the greatest friendships fall apart, the greatest relationships come together, and everything in between. If you’ve never truly been on your own before, you will feel like an outcast in college. I’m not sure about the female and male experience, but I do know that both genders feel socially pressured when they enter into college. If you’re slightly socially awkward like me, you may find yourself able to make “friends” easily, and thrive in most social settings, however you still feel alone, or you may feel like you don’t belong. Switching gears a bit, roommate issues can affect you socially as well. You and your roommate could have been the closest friends, but things change. Instead of growing together, ya’ll can grow apart. It can be due to the fact that ya’ll don’t get along, or it could be a simple misunderstanding that escalates. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up friendless due to one or both factors. It is often said that we don’t need people to make us happy, but psychology has proven that to be a lie. A basic human need is to feel accepted, to feel like we belong to someone or something, and if we don’t fit the norm, we are ostracized and isolated. People think college is about parties and social events to meet people but how can you enjoy those things if you’re a loner, with no close friends that you trust to make your high school to college transition easier? Whoever said you find some of your best friends in college only told a half truth, because it’s not easy navigating through a university full of lost souls just like you.
Here’s the biggest issue of college that no one likes to talk about, the psychological struggle of course.
Mentally, none of us are prepared for college and honestly, there is no piece of advice that can be given to prepare us. For me, college has been nothing but trial and error when it comes to figuring out stuff. Whenever a situation came up, I had to figure out a way to handle it, and sometimes it may have not been the best way. I wasn’t prepared at all for the adversity I would face, and the depression that resulted because of it. I become an insomniac and a chronic isolationist. It got so bad that I would do nothing except go to class and come back to my room. I would barely eat, I stopped going out, and I wouldn’t socialize with anyone. I had always considered myself a strong person, but for some reason, I had become really broken mentally. I considered doing everything from transferring schools to dropping out of college all together. I just wanted to give up. And I was very, very, very close to doing so. People don’t realize that a person can be taken care of financially, excel socially, but have deep issues psychologically. Depression can and will hinder you if you let it, but if you are lucky enough to avoid any psychological distress during your first year in college, then dammit I need your secret. Honestly though, psychological distress is inevitable, whether it’s minor or major. I do know that talking about what you’re facing can help, whether it’s to a shrink (something I haven’t tried yet) or to someone you trust (something I do on the regular). Psychological issues are often looked past, but I really believe we need to start acknowledging them, so we can manage them, before they spiral out of control.
Despite the financial, social, and psychological issues we face in our first year of college and beyond, I feel as if they strengthen us, because they’ve definitely strengthened me, and I’m glad.
Could some situations been handled better? Definitely.
Should I have made some of the choices I made? Probably not.
Would I change any of the lessons I was forced to learn? Absolutely not.
In your life, you are going to struggle, that is one of the few things in life that is promised to us. However, I’ve learned that struggle is necessary for success. You’ll struggle some, but never for long. For example: Just because I’m not financially stable now doesn’t mean I always will be. Just because I’m on academic probation now doesn’t mean I’ll never get off. And just because I’ve battled depression before, doesn’t mean I’ll be depressed for the rest of my life.
Ya’ll don’t understand how tired I am of seeing people like myself come into college thinking that they have it all, and know even more, and acting like struggle isn’t supposed to exist. Regardless of your race, gender, or ethnicity, struggle happens to all of us, for various reasons. The ultimate goal of struggle is not to weaken us, but to make us champions in the end.
So now that I’ve shared my story with you, what’s yours?
What are some of your unspoken struggles?
How did you overcome them, or how do you plan to?
And as always…