Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: It's OK if college isn't 'the time of your life'

Whether I mean to, I tend to be a pessimist, at least in other people’s eyes. Personally, I like to believe I’m a realist. Whatever my true worldview is, one thing has always rung true. I hate excessive positivity.  

I was already wary of the popular phrase “College is the time of your life.” During my senior year of high school, it was thrown at me by friends, teachers and anyone else who could put their two cents in. While I appreciated the sentiment, I didn’t fully believe it.  

I arrived at IU, and I knew my gut reaction to that saying was right. And it still is a year later.   

The literal sweat and tears haven’t been glamorous. Nor have the antisocial nights or anxiety-ridden days. College hasn’t been the time of my life, but I’m learning that’s OK. 

[Related: You need to learn how to be alone with yourself]

When I tell other students I’ve never been to a party, most of them are overcome with a look of shock and wonder. And that makes sense considering 52.5% of college students aged 18 to 22 drank alcohol in 2019.  

But, parties just sound scary. Especially ones at IU, a university which apparently takes the 14th spot on the top party schools list.  

Before this school year started, I told myself I’d talk to at least one person in each of my classes. It’s safe to say I successfully failed at that seemingly simple task. While other people were asking names and majors before class started, I was texting my best friend about how nervous I was.  

On top of the social anxiety, college is incredibly expensive. For those of us with even semi-fortunate families, the cost of college is such a big stressor. The average student loan debt is around $28,000. It seems like the cost of attending IU just keeps increasing.  

Worrying about paying rent shouldn’t have to be a part of the American college experience. However, for many of us, it is. Trying to juggle jobs and a social life on top of schoolwork doesn’t allow for the fascinating, carefree college experience many people advertise.  

[Related: Preparing for college doesn't need to be stressful]

The picture-perfect Greek life college experience is only for a select few. Not that that’s the experience I want to have, but it might prove to be slightly better than the social mediocrity I’ve achieved thus far.  

Even with these complaints, what I think I often forget, as well as any other student lost in the haze of college, is that I still have the rest of my 20s and then some to find myself. To be social, explore and to live as “glamorously” as I want. The same is true for you.  

If you’re in the same boat as me, I promise you we’ll be OK. I have to remind myself of that after every awkward interaction or each new thing I do alone. Joining the Indiana Daily Student was intimidating. Accepting an internship from one of my favorite professors was overwhelming.  

No matter what I feel inside or what my life looks like from the outside, I’m trying to remind myself that where I’m at is exactly where I need to be.  

Elizabeth Valadez (she/her) is a sophomore studying English and political science with a minor in Spanish. 

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