You walk into class Monday morning and all you hear is constant chatter from your classmates about the insane parties over the weekend or that classic, “dude, this weekend was crazy” line.

By the time Friday rolls around, the conversations have shifted into planning for the incoming weekend and exchanging party addresses. Sounds pretty familiar, right?

When most people discuss college, parties are quick to be brought up. Our society makes it seem as if parties are the best part of college and that you’re missing out if you don’t “party it up” every weekend. Well, I am here to remind you that they are them, and you are you. Don’t let anyone else dictate what you should or shouldn’t be doing in college and don’t force yourself to go to parties just because everyone else is going.

Now it may sound crazy that someone would force him or herself to go to something he or she doesn’t want to go to, but then again it also sounds crazy that the best part about college is the parties. When everyone around you is talking about all of their fun experiences, it’s hard not to feel left out.

Which leads to what I like to call, “the fear of missing out.”

Since beginning college, I have been struggling with this fear a lot. I mostly keep to myself in school and only socialize with a few deskmates in each class, so throughout most of my classes, I end up accidentally overhearing other people’s conversations. When I hear people talk about parties, I get a weird knot in my stomach. It might be part annoyance, but mixed with sadness, and I wonder why I’m not a part of any of the fun shenanigans they are discussing.

Eventually, I took a step back and asked myself, “do I even want to be a part of that?” And that is when everything changed.

I had spent so long hearing other people’s definitions of the “ultimate college experience”, that I had completely neglected my own opinions. I had built up so many of these expectations in my head, that I didn’t even know what I wanted to expect or experience. Which led me to the life-changing decision to redefine my college expectations, so they actually fit my standards.

For me, college is a time for finding myself. It is a time to figure out who I aim to be and what I stand for. It is a time to get a clearer sense of my purpose as an individual of the world. College is the time where I get to be selfish and ignore what other people want me to hear, focusing instead on what I need to tell myself. And for me, parties are not how I want to spend my Friday nights, and that is okay.

College is not supposed to be easy. If you are a full-time student, a lot of your free time must be dedicated towards school work in order to be properly prepared and meet the deadlines. They aren’t lying when they say that college students are always tired, so it makes perfect sense to cherish any free time you get. If you’re anything like me, socializing can sometimes feel like a chore at the end of a long day, so it is perfectly acceptable to choose to stay in on a Friday night, rather than go partying.

So now, it’s time to define your college purpose. Identify what you aim to achieve in college and where your priorities lie. Understand how socializing plays into your plan. And most importantly: stay true to yourself and never let anyone else determine what is best for you.