One of the most exciting parts of going to college is meeting diverse and exciting people who share our interests as well as introduce us to new ideas and passions that we otherwise would have never encountered. A lot of the learning in college is done outside of the classroom, through our peers, our extracurricular activities, and the interactions we have with professors and mentors. The skills we gain from living with like-minded individuals and from navigating our differences while celebrating our similarities are unique to the college experience. Within this collaborative environment, however, comes competition. Although some competition can be a healthy motivator to challenge ourselves and make the most of the college experience, worrying too much about what our peers are accomplishing and participating in can quickly become toxic.
It is very easy to become overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy during this fragile time in our lives. College is the time when students are supposed to work towards figuring out their goals in life and how they want to work towards them. However, with the advent of social media, it is easy for people to share their highlight reels while leaving out the details of their times of struggle or uncertainty. From the outside looking in, it seems as though everyone has everything all figured out. No one brags about their poor academic performance or their rejection letters. No one posts about their mental health battles or their confusion and misdirection.
I remember feeling panicked because I found myself lost and confused about my future and was anxious about my plans and how I was going to execute them. I was under the impression that it was time to hit the ground running, and I felt that everyone was already halfway through the marathon when I didn't even realize it had begun. It took a lot of time and a lot of listening to my peer and family members to debunk my preconceived notions; most students are also just figuring it all out. The time and effort I am putting into my current responsibilities are more than enough, and the time I spent worrying about what other people were accomplishing is time that could be spent pursuing my passions and excelling within my own responsibilities.
We all experience rejection at one time or another in college. It is inevitable, but how we choose to channel our energy after these low points is what will determine our success in the future. Comparing our personal qualities and choices to the supposed successes we notice in others won't make us happier, but will only make it more difficult to thrive and achieve our full potential. I fondly remember the words of my father when I called him one day worrying about the caliber of my accomplishments and my concerns for the future. He said, "One who constantly compares themselves to others will never have a moment's peace." We all owe ourselves some peace, and we deserve to be proud of our accomplishments. It doesn't matter if the grass is greener because we each have our own garden in full bloom.