struggling in college

Uncertainty As A College Freshman Is Normal, It's Not Just You

Don't you just hate the feeling of not knowing if you're making the right decisions?

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The thing about life is that you never have a definite outcome from an anticipated event. Even if you've wished for something relentlessly or were told that 'so and so' will happen, there's always a chance that life will turn down a different path. There are many variables that can shape the outcome of an event; both big and small things do matter in the course of life. I find this to be true for me: I criticize every small decision I make, especially when my decisions result in a bad consequence.

This uncertainty, this lack of clarity, adds a reason to fear the future for me. It's a source of a growing anxiety tucked in the farthest reaches of my mind. I like to think that with the hard work that I put into my responsibilities, there will be a positive outcome. Here comes the uncertainty that simply expecting something to happen doesn't mean it will happen, that it doesn't mean that it is bound to happen.

Often, these thoughts don't manifest spontaneously. I know there's a reason for why I'm feeling anxious about my unclear future, and thankfully, I know the cause of its recent impact on my life. Incoming college freshmen are often warned of the kind of academics they will be hit with when they start college courses: there's going to be a lot of studying involved, time management, responsibilities, and a whole lot of other stuff pertaining to how different it will be from high school.

Now I see that clearly.

I came into college earlier than some of my peers, as I had to go through training for the work-study job I signed up for. Being new to the college experience, I was enthusiastic about the prospect of working, taking classes, joining clubs, and volunteering. Although it was implied from the shocked and pitying looks I got from other freshmen and upperclassmen, I would never expect my major and the courses affiliated with it to be something to cause me so much worry. I told myself that I've been stressed about coursework before and that the worry will pass as soon as the exam passes as well. Only this time, the opposite became true: if I can't retain this information now and use it, how will I do in the course following this one?

My inability to know for sure if this path I've chosen for myself is the best one kills me.

I'm stuck wondering if the choices I made were right, or if this was a chance that I somehow wasted. Giving up right now is not an option, but what if not giving up means a mediocre grade and a GPA considered inadequate for medical school? What if dropping this class is the best bet, but I can't handle the constant reminder that I gave up? What if I could continue and work twice as hard would pay off and I could prove myself wrong by succeeding?

I've made some choices now that may come to save me or ruin me later: I resigned from the work-study job I was eager to join before the start of classes and I talked to my advisor about dropping classes and even possibly changing majors. I took these steps because they seem to be the best choice right now, but I'm uncertain if they really will help or if the problem lies elsewhere.

Even through these times of uncertainty, there's not much to do except go on and see where my choices lead me. As long as I do the best that I can for the dreams I hope to accomplish, I won't be wasting my time. I may not feel it now, but my choices will most likely lead me to a place in life where I will feel more secure and not so afraid of the future.

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.
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College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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