There’s a common feeling that we, college students, are very familiar with. It’s that “What am I doing?”, “What’s the point?” feeling that drives us to skip class, choose Netflix over studying, and randomly feel like we need to get away, to anywhere but here. We know that not studying is practically self-destruction and we’ll regret it come exam-time, but within these brief moments of apathy, it’s as if we’re trying to preserve whatever ounce of humanity we have left in us. Going to class, studying for exams, writing papers, and stressing about all of the above are like the four parts of a shield, blocking us from what really matters in life. We torture ourselves with this shield the majority of the time, but there comes a point (and recently, several points) where we’ve had enough and we need to put ourselves first or we’ll go crazy and start shouting “Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” at everyone we come across because that’s all we’ve been able to think about up until this point. So here’s what you need to know about this miserable, unavoidable feeling:
It’s totally normal.
Unless you’re reading this thinking that I’m crazy and you have no idea what I’m talking about (which in that case, you should stop reading here and go study or something), you know this feeling quite well. For most of us, we’re in college because it was the cliché “next chapter” after high school. At times we love it because we’re free to be ourselves and find out “who we are,” but other times we joke about dropping out (little do people know we’re not exactly joking…) because it’s as if we don’t have time to do those things that excited us about college in the first place. If you find yourself starting your 12th episode of whatever show on Netflix with impending exams and due dates at the back of your mind, know you’re not alone.
It’s okay to be selfish sometimes
Maybe your parents took out a loan to send you to college; or they’ve been saving up since before you were born; or you’re on scholarship; or you worked your butt off and paid for it all on your own. Regardless of how you got here, you deserve to be here—even if you question whether you want to be here, and even if sometimes you act like you don’t.
It’s okay to be selfish and skip class on the days when you think you’re going crazy because all you want to do is get in your car and drive away. It’s okay to go get a massage, or go to the park by yourself with a good book when you know you should be studying/working on an assignment. On the days when you really can’t push yourself to be the perfect, studious, ambitious person that society convinces you to be, don’t force it. Put yourself first.
There’s a reason why your phone takes a little while to turn back on when you plug it in to charge after it dies: you’ve exhausted it to the point where it has nothing left to give. It needs some time to itself to charge so that it can operate the way you need it to. People are like that, too, sometimes. So take some time to yourself and go for a drive, watch some Netflix, re-read your favorite book. Do what you need to do to re-charge and rediscover your motivation.
College, as well as this feeling, is temporary
We view college as a stepping stone to starting a career and entering “the real world”. Sometimes it feels like we’re always working to get somewhere and then once we get there, we start working for something else. We rarely have a moment to be present and simply be happy with where we are; and it’s exhausting. In high school we worked our butts off to get into college. In college we’re working our butts off to get a degree that will hopefully land us a job. But once we get there, what are we working for? To be able to live? We’re like hamsters on a wheel: running and running like the wheel is our life but it's only a part of it. It's only what we choose to spend our time doing. So this “what’s the point?” feeling that arises is more than just a feeling. It’s like our dreams knocking on our door and showing us the big picture of life.
We only get one life. I’m not saying you should drop out of college, quit your job, and do what you really want to do, because that won’t get you very far. College is important because here we’re gaining experiences and learning about topics we’ll talk about with friends for all the years to come. Here we learn that there is way more to life than what we see day-to-day. So of course, keep working, but take time to be selfish, too, because this is your life. You’re not working for your life, you’re living it. Allow yourself time to enjoy it.