What I Miss About College

What I Miss About College

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I graduated from college in 2010. Yes, I am old…young…you be the judge of that.

While I wouldn’t trade my life now, working for a non-profit organization and moonlighting as a wedding photographer alongside my husband, I will always miss college. Nothing compares to those strange years and the ways I grew then.

Here are a few things I will always appreciate about those years:

The Responsibility

College was intentional…and it was not cheap. I was there to further my education and make the money invested worthwhile. I was there to discover more about myself, my calling and my abilities.

The freedom and responsibility of adulthood are very different from that of student years. If I failed, I lost my scholarships and wasted good money. I’d let myself and others down.

Most importantly though, no one else was going to attend class for me–no one was going to write my paper for me. Some pressure in life is simply weight, but in this season it was a motivation and catalyst to be the best I could be.

These were instrumental lessons that prepared me for the bill-paying, dish-washing, weight-losing reality of adulthood.

The Suspension

This may sound suspiciously like the wisdom of bubblegum pop, but I was not a girl and not a woman. I was suspended between two worlds. I desperately wanted to grow up, but the web of academia kept me truly arrested developmentally–as it should have.

College is not the season to be a child, nor is it the season to be a grown-up. Be a student–embrace it! Learn all you can. You will not get this time back.

A little secret though: you will never fully grow up. I am now a married “woman” still struggling to wash all those dishes. I look at the prospect of parenthood and my eyes go wide (and slightly panicked) at the possibility…and that’s perfectly okay. If you can learn to accept yourself in the incredibly surreal years of college, it will serve you well as you step into the post-college “adult” world.

other valuable tips:

The Learning

I cannot tell you how much I miss reading, yet I struggle just to pick up a book! I devoured books in my childhood, and I always strove for the A+ on every assignment. Now, it’s a struggle to read more than a Facebook feed. I do not share this to sound bleak and dismal, but to implore you to appreciate your academic environment. Drink it in!

The Structure

Hallelujah, I had a meal plan! I can genuinely say I miss cafeteria food. Someone else cooked for me three times a day. I have to do that for myself now. There was a health center–counselors, nurses–and I had a class schedule. Yes, homework was the pits sometimes, but my days were predictable, and my responsibilities were clear. My work life is similar now, but there’s something almost intangible about the structure and convenience of living on campus that, in hindsight, was magic.

The Growth

I was very insecure in high school–painfully self-aware! I took far too much personally and had a lot to learn about self-acceptance. Coming out of family strife and what I see now as social anxiety, I was overdue for some serious personal growth. The college offered me lots of freedom, paired with lots of responsibility.

I moved away from home and lived independently for the first time. Suddenly, I had the license to direct my path in ways I felt incapable of before. I felt entrusted with myself. This did not happen overnight, but as each semester went by, I felt increasingly liberated and more sure of myself.

I didn’t have to have all the answers; I just had to embrace the young woman I was becoming and love her with my whole heart. I am still learning to do that well, but college was where it all really began.

Admittedly, nostalgia colors my view of these years, and there were very real challenges–especially academic ones–during that season. But I would much rather embrace the best of this life than dwell on the “not-so-much.” Let’s do that together, shall we?

How about sharing this article on social media, taking a moment to call that one friend from college, or if you are in college, dive into that study group and smile at your cafeteria lady when you rush in for dinner.

College was and is all about you, your well being, and your future. It’s worth not only growing individually because of it but sharing the best of it with others.

Image Credit: by Pixabay

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