College life means different things for different people. Some think of it as a reward after gruelling and rigorous academic exams throughout school. Some look it at as a form of escape, especially those who might not have been extended too much freedom by their parents. Some think of it as a do-over or a place to start from scratch and rectify mistakes made earlier. For most, it’s an amalgamation of all these thoughts.
With my college life coming to its eventual close in the next one or two months, I’ve been spending quite some time asking my batch mates about their college experiences. The usual response is a minute or so of silence where the other person goes into flashback-mode to remember significant moments from the past three years. When people start answering, they’d constantly flit between the past and the present while putting their thoughts into words. At the end of their recollections, they usually tried to form some conclusion. Did they make the most of college life? Did they match their dreams of college with their actual experiences?
While these are questions only you can answer for yourself, what I’ve come to realise is that if anyone has just one goal for college life it should be this; to find as much as you possibly can about yourself. More than learning about a subject, college life forces you to learn about yourself.
Throughout school life and our mid teenage years, we’re used to being monitored and to a large extent, being told what to do. In college, that changes completely. You can decide what to do with your time, who to befriend, which society you should pick and what your priorities are. Through this process, we end up learning an incredible amount about ourselves, even if we don’t realise it. The important part is to be able to think about our experiences in college and really figure out what we did, and why we did what we did.
Which experiences made us feel good about ourselves? What made us feel alive? What made our blood boil? How did we deal with events like fall outs with friends or break ups? Could we have handled those situations better? Are we more comfortable around a large group or a smaller and closer one? Do we constantly feel the need to get other to like us?
When we compare ourselves to our peers, what stands out about us and do we like the person we are? What about traits in other? What sort of behaviour can we absolutely not tolerate in another person? How do we think of or define ourselves emotionally, spiritually and sexually?
Life is a journey of self discovery, they say. I think college life is the first step to many experiences that help us discover who we are and what truly matters to us. If your college experience is coming to an end, then grab a close friend or maybe a moment of solitude to really think about what you’ve learned about yourself in the past three years. While some things may surprise you, there might be some you’ve known all along. Either way, it makes for an important exercise as we embark on the next phase in our lives.