College Is Really Hard

college student

School is hard. Especially when you’re on summer break (like I currently am).

The question mark is because this was supposed to be my fourth blogging101 post, and it’s day 5….

Most of my time lately has been spent rejecting any and all responsibilities and pretending they don’t exist. I’ve also been enjoying the sun via the beach method, drinking a good amount of craft beer, and generally being rambunctious with my closest friends.

To be completely honest, I am still just barely stumbling through this whole en devour. For a few days I forgot that I was even maintaining a blog, or participating in this month long blogging obstacle course. But my spirits are high, and i’m optimistic about what the future holds for me and this blog. So i’m just gonna keep on keepin’ on.

Hoo Rah.

I would however, like to take this post in sort of a new direction and talk about something a little less sunny than usual.

I wanna talk a little about hopelessness.

It’s real. It’s awful. It’s something almost everyone struggles with at some point.

Hopelessness is the feeling of  intense despair. At it’s core it is an experience of giving up because there is no way to succeed or prosper any longer. That everything is pointless due to a total lack of control or autonomy.

It’s hard to not to feel that way sometimes as we go through life.

I am currently a senior at my in state university. I’m at a crucial point in my life where society is seemingly requiring me to make decisions about myself and my career that will affect my entire future. There are a lot of choices that I’ve been expected to make for the last 3 years (major, jobs, hobbies, etc), that will be analyzed and scrutinized by people in positions of great influence, and used to form opinions of me going forward.

That can be a pretty overwhelming.

The dynamic of a college student is an interesting one to grasp. You are (hopefully) working extremely hard and frequently at something for years that you are passionate about. But the unfortunate truth is that college is now more oriented towards allowing you into a specific career than personal growth or true learning. So a terribly hard aspect of the experience is deciding if your area of study is going to be practical and beneficial enough, or something you actually want to do for the rest of your life. A major that makes no money, is hardly worth the time, money, and effort that goes into getting a secondary education, yet no one wants to mindlessly endure the monotony of a job they hate for the next 40 years of their lives.

Also, students are required to be responsible for their lives and selves, at a time when they have not yet been integrated into adult society. So they tend to not always make the most appropriate or widely agreed upon decisions. And as a result of this, they are often looked down upon and treated with less respect. That in turn, creates cognitive dissonance about wanting to be more mature and have responsibilities, yet being skeptical and distancing oneself from “being a grown up”.

At this stage, it is easy to look at everyone successful around you, people who have way more of something that you want, or are way better at something that you do, and feel completely inadequate. It’s also very easy to doubt your own abilities and feel like you’re not as far along in life in terms of your goals as you would like to be.

Being slightly on the outside of contributing more to, and getting more out of society can be very frustrating. It’s hard to know how to enter in, or break through the barriers that stand in your way. No one is there to tell you what to do, or how to do it, yet you are still not able to stand completely on your own in most cases. There are so many possibilities, choices, and options available, that the task of deciding on which path to take can seem actually impossible. And maybe not worth pursuit.

That’s when hope starts to fade. The pressures of decisions, set backs, and divided desires can get to be too much too handle and you start to lose sight of any possibility of making things work. As this happens, we can gradually relinquish our own ability to make the differences we need to in order to better ourselves. We start to be convinced of the fact that the world just does not want us to succeed and that our situation is something that we cannot better or influence.

So our effort goes down.

Our interests decrease.

The enthusiasm once felt for life is replaced by a perpetual pessimistic attitude.

We let all of the problems, concerns, and worries get to us, and take us off track. It’s an experience I’ve had all too often.

I’m not here to say that it is easy to fix, or make light of a very complex issue, because it’s something that does affect most people in a big way. It is also something that is never truly overcome for some.

But I will say what has helped comfort and reassure me during these times, and perspectives that have helped guide my path to a more positive, and productive one.

The first, and probably most important thing to remember, is simply that we are still young. Time is on our side. Yes, unfortunate incidences can occur and life should be regarded as precious and is not guaranteed. However, for the most part there are and will continue to be many opportunities to make mistakes, learn, and grow. Usually the only people that pressure young adults into getting more things done, or scrutinize their current progress, is the young adults themselves.

Also realize that education, your career, where you wanna live, etc,  is an ongoing process. Part of making the right decisions, might just include making a wrong one first. And that process might have a lifespan of a few years. So focus more on what your next step tomorrow or for the week is, rather than how quickly your end result has to come.

Lastly, just keep in mind, that even though you think that nothing is going your way, or that everyone is better than you at every single thing you want out of life, every person on this planet is better than, and worse at something than someone else.  So the next time you see that girl in your calculus class who got an A in the class while you got a c+,  remember that she might also be failing her composition class that you got a scholarship for. Or that girl who is wildly passionate about her art history studies, might also not have a job, while you have had the pleasure of working for the same company for the last four years.

It will get easier. It will get better. Eventually.

Kenneth D.W Marshall

Loves long walks on the beach!
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