I haven't had a "normal" college experience. Nor am I the kind of person who really takes pride in my university. It isn't in my Instagram bio. I don't post a lot of pictures on campus. From conversations I've had, it seems like a lot of people don't even think I'm in school anymore.
I spent my freshman year of college in a state of a mental health crisis. I was out drinking three nights a week. I didn't go to class. I went from graduating high school with a 4.1 GPA to ending my second semester with a 2.8 GPA. I hid myself from the world. I gained 30 pounds. I had completely lost myself.
In April of my freshman year, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I almost didn't go back to school, an idea that was unfathomable for me in high school. I had to go to high school. I had to stay in the major I originally picked.
The plan was the plan, and it needed to stay that way.
I transferred at the end of my third semester of college, another idea that I thought was taboo when I originally applied to college. I felt weak for not "sticking it out." But the only way I was going to get better is if I was at a school closer to home. So I made that happen.
I went from living in the dorms to living at home. I thought that was a temporary thing. But it's turned into an 18-month thing. And I struggle with that immensely.
I'm not involved in much at school. My commute is half an hour. I work two jobs. I've developed a sort of apathy towards the college experience.
I go to school to take my classes so I can get an expensive piece of paper that will allow me to get a job. But I value my work experience way more than I value my classroom experience. I'm graduating in three years instead of four. Because the less time I have to be there, the better.
A lot of times, when I say I'm ready to get the hell out, I'm met with, "No! Stay in college forever! Life sucks afterward!" Sometimes it's, "Working is not as fun as college. Just live it up now before you have to be a real person."
Here's the deal. My college experience has been marked by a lot of trauma. And like I said, I work two jobs. I have my goals for the future in sight. I know what I want. I know what I need. And most importantly, I know what I deserve.
When I graduated high school, I couldn't wait to have an adventure. No rules. No curfew. No asking for permission to do things. But I lost myself. Most of college is actually a fog for me. I don't remember weeks of my life due to the intense mental trauma I experienced.
So no, I don't want to stay in college as long as I can. I don't think working will be worse than sitting in class. These have not been the best years of my life.
In fact, college has been the biggest struggle of my life. And I'm ready to move on.
Not everyone can be a frat star. Not everyone will get that 4.0 GPA. Not everyone will get to carry out the plan they started.
And that's okay. Because we all experience life in a different way. But if I'm telling you that I didn't get out of these years the same joy you did, don't criticize me for that.
I had to grow up and grow out of the college mindset very quickly because my health and well-being had to be the priority. I lost more friends than I kept. I felt like I let myself down so many times.
For me, college is a series of days that bring me one step closer to my expensive piece of paper. So I don't need anyone telling me that I should stay there longer. Because I've had enough trauma for a lifetime throughout my college experience. I'm absolutely ready for what's next.