College should be the best time of your life; at least, that’s what all the adults tell you. But what are you supposed to do if you’re in the middle of it and it’s not all that?
Every single moment has to be a highlight; after all, these are the best four years of your life, right? You’re allowed to be stressed, sure. Overworked and overcommitted? Totally, that’s par for the course. But unhappy? That’s where it gets tricky.
Expressing dissatisfaction with a class, a student group or a specific situation is socially acceptable. Telling someone you’re unhappy with your entire experience is all but heresy. While there is intellectual space to discuss changes you want to make, the atmosphere is often something like, “if we fix XYZ, then everything will be perfect.”
Despite the multitudes of resources we have to support students’ mental health, the “acceptance” they foster is simply one of “it’s okay to have flawed brain chemistry” rather than “it’s okay that this school is a major stressor in your life.” At no point have I ever been told, by a mental health professional, a professor or another student, that being unhappy and dissatisfied is a normal part of the college experience.
There’s this stereotype that you show up to college and find your “people” during welcome week, and that in a few months time, college feels like more of a home than your hometown does. I’m sure that’s true for some people, but there’s no way it’s true for all of us.
Insta is filled with pictures of people that are #thriving at their schools and can’t stand the fact they have to leave for summer, tearfully posting blurry selfies with their roommate or sorority sister who are their “best friends in the whole wide world.”
If it seems like I’m not happy enough to be at school, leave me the hell alone.
Peace, love and the quarter system,