How college is becoming the worst time of our lives
How many times a day do you go around wondering what you're doing? I can say that this is a pretty normal question for most people, but let me specify what I mean by, "what am I doing?" As a junior in college, I am faced with the question of, "what am I doing with my life?" I grow increasingly frustrated, and sometimes flat out depressed, when I can't come up with an answer. Even worse, I sit in my room at night after a seemingly never-ending day, sobbing, wondering if I will ever know my true passion and purpose.
My peers and I basically range from the ages of 18-22. We're considered young, naïve, impulsive…if we are labeled as all of these things, then why are we expected to know what to do with the rest of our lives the minute we toss our caps in the air at high school graduation? Let me tell you, we are young and naïve. We don't have the wisdom that our parents, mentors, and professors, do, yet. But we do have a lot of wisdom. We have a lot of pressure, and we go through a lot of heartache, that is only added to the pressure to "succeed."
I remember it all too well: elementary school focusing on establishing studying skills, middle school emphasizing accelerated courses to prepare us for high school, and then high school, where they stole our lives and sold us to the textbooks, AP courses, and the ultimate end result of a prestigious university. Then I got to college, and I thought, "Here, I will be my own person and figure out what I really want." I was wrong. This is how it actually went: You need to figure out your major now because you don't have time to mess around. Don't major in things that aren't "top tier," and "that won't make you money!" Never once did I hear "do what sets your heart on fire." We will never be able to discover what we love if we don't have the chance to try, fail, and discover, for at least our first year of school.
I write this to say: WAKE UP! Face the music; things are not okay. Society: we as students are NOT machines. We cannot physically or mentally complete up to 8 hours of homework a night, attend all of our clubs and activities, earn internships, study for graduate school exams, and figure out how to appease those around us. Professors: you should not view the drug and caffeine abuse, just to get 1 point higher, as a sign of dedication. We are in one of the hardest stages of life where we are seen as 'adults," but still live by our universities agendas. Here, we are trying to define what will make us happy for the rest of our lives, only to have others say too often to us that what we love isn't "good or lucrative enough." Since when did our lives stop becoming our own? It started right from the beginning.
I am a frustrated, tired, and confused student. I really don't know what I want from my life, and struggle to answer the dreaded question, "what makes you happy?" Why do we grimace at the thought of this question? Better yet, why are we ridiculed for our answers once we finally come up with one?
If I have learned anything through my time in college, it would be that life is not about what will make you the six-figure salary, learning is not defined by a 4.0, success does not come from a glowing application, and happiness should not be a mirage in the distance. I've seen students die by suicide from the pressure. I hear others say that they are leaving on a mental health absence because everything is becoming too much, and I personally feel the depression of knowing that the dark side of success is not addressed. We are students, but more importantly, we are people. College is labeled as "the best times in your life," as it should be, but being emotionally killed by standards, studying, and focusing on only the future, rather than enjoying the present too, makes it the worst time in our lives. We are not alone, and should not feel alone. I don't have the answers to happiness, but I know that the path we're currently forced on is not the one.