I went to a study group for a Spanish test today. And I say “study group” for lack of a better word.
We only really meet the night before a Spanish test to talk about how bad we are at Spanish and stress-eat. By the most liberal of estimates, we are a Spanish Commiseration Committee. “Study group” is really, really pushing it. But I digress.
I went to it, this study group. For reasons I can’t imagine, not very many people showed up this week. Unbelievable, right?
It was me and two other girls from my class who I liked but didn’t know terribly well. I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about almost everyone I’ve met here in California so far: friendly, potentially awesome people who I can’t crack. I felt a bit different by the time I headed back to my dorm.
Instead of our usual jokes about our hysterical professor and our unfortunate lack of bilingual-ness, the girls I was with started talking about rushing for sororities. I’m not planning on rushing, so I just sort of sat back and listened and flipped vaguely through my Spanish textbook.
They said they were only rushing because they didn’t have close friends. They said they hated college so far. They said they felt like failures because they should be loving college. They said they felt like horrible friends because, when they went home for Thanksgiving, all their high school friends were missing and loving their college friends. And no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t figure out how to feel happy for them. They felt jealous. And they felt alone.
And I didn’t have anything to say. Because how do you say “You’re right,” to someone who really just needs to be wrong? How do I tell them “It gets better,” when I don’t know for a fact that it does? See, they didn’t just need me to tell them things will get easier. They needed me to mean it, too.
I don’t mean to be a downer here. I know that, in all likelihood, things, friends, and the college experience will get better. But I also know that all of those things will get worse sometimes. And sometimes, they won’t get anything. They’ll just be there. Life doesn’t have a positive slope all the time. Saying “it gets better,” is a half-truth. And it’s deceptive.
Life doesn’t always get better, meaning, it doesn’t consistently get better. It is not guaranteed, or even likely, that all points in my life after this one will be better than the point I’m at right now. It is likely, however, that there will be some points in my life after this one that are better than the one I’m at right now. That’s how we need to be processing the sentiment that “it gets better.”
These girls from my Spanish class have heard that it gets better a thousand and a half times. They’ve heard it so many times that, not only don’t they believe it. They think they’re the only ones for whom things aren’t getting better.
I didn’t have a solution, so I just fixed a little tiny bit of the problem. I told them that I felt the same way, in the hopes that maybe they knew things aren’t getting better for everyone right now, and that’s okay. In the hopes that they felt a little less alone.
And then I walked back to my dorm and I wrote. I wrote in the hopes that, if you’re reading this, and things aren’t getting better, you recognize that there’s not something wrong with you. Things might not be getting better right now, but you don’t have to feel alone on top of that.
The idea that things get better isn’t a bad one. It’s a great one. We just have to think about it differently, so that, when things get worse, we don’t think we’re the anomaly.
We might suck at Spanish, but I think we’ve got the commiseration down.