To The Suffocating College Freshman, Just Remember To Breath

To The Suffocating College Freshman, Just Remember To Breath

I can honestly say I never truly understood the meaning behind being a “broke college student” until I defined myself as one.
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Smelling coffee brewing in a dorm room, streaked sneaker markings engraved in the pavement, drool slipping off the page turners lip after studying for finals, and the rigorous sound of crisp fingertips dancing against a keyboard with five minutes left to spare on an essay submission. Sound familiar? All these aspects of life are mastered into this dynamic creation of education which we as students have been forced to convert into.

Isn’t it funny how we are the outrageous and immature high schoolers and within a summer vacation of three months we are transformed into these young adults who are now responsible to take on the rest of their lives? The funny thing is we are not.

In school, we are taught to begin studying for more school. The SAT and ACT take priority to being taught how to pay taxes or applying for a job or even changing a flat tire. The educational system dictates that the Pythagorean theorem takes priority over understanding how to budget an income, and we as students just go along with the trend, trying to make the grades and get into a college where the exact same cycle continues.

It is actually funny that this society dictates our corruption the day you enter kindergarten by always prying into students minds that the only way to be successful is through a college education and we believe it. People will go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to receive a rolled-up paper stating they made it, but what did they actually make it to?

It makes sense that when you let people taste freedom for the first time, they abuse it, and college is such a prime example of the generational movement. Young adults without a curfew? Free drugs and booze? Parties every night? It is a teen dream and parents would love to believe that their angel children are attending all their classes, sleeping on time, studying every day, and making sure they eat their veggies. That is not always the case.

Students are so wrapped up in getting “the college experience” that they forget why they are attending college in the first place.

People take this “college experience” as an excuse to act like crazy teenagers rather than earn a true education. The idea of attending a trade school or community college is seen as absurd because it is not viewed as “real schooling” when in actuality it statistically has proven to generate more alumni who attend college purely for educational purposes.

People who attend community college typically do so for location or financial reasons. These people are the ones already planning for their future and acting accordingly so that they can be successful without taking on massive debt while balancing out a career and education. The full intention of attending these classes is to receive the education and to truly earn a college diploma, not to live by the saying “C’s get degrees”.

During a college orientation, an advisor told us to look to our left and then look to our right, she followed that statement by stating one of you three will end up being a college dropout by statistics. I thought to myself there is no way that can be true and there is no way I will be a part of that statistic, I learned soon that the advisor was not wrong.

Following my first semester of college, the sound of leaving it all behind and starting off on a clean plate sounded so intriguing. I was ready to forget college and find my way on my own. It wasn’t because of the workload or grades, it was because something just didn’t feel right. In that moment I didn’t feel like the education I was receiving was worth the amount of debt I would be taking on the following semester. I didn’t doubt myself, but I did doubt the system I was being pulled into.

I am sure there are millions of students who felt they were exactly where they were meant to be and there is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you need to look around and ask yourself is the cause worth the effect.

College has become a popularity contest more than a commonality for students trying to earn their degrees. I can honestly say I never truly understood the meaning behind being a “broke college student” until I defined myself as one and while it implied the money factor it was more than just my financial state. It was being mentally drained while trying to maintain this impersonation of myself that I was doing what was best for me while holding myself back and the moment I decided I needed to escape the toxic life I had surrounded myself with was the moment I felt like I could breathe again.

Cover Image Credit: Tish Cama

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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