College Is A Paradox: A Reflection on the Greatest Four Years Of One's Life

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

In high school, I was sure that college would be the place I go to develop lifelong friendships, find myself, and ultimately further my career plans. I don’t think I was the only one who came into their freshman year of college with high expectations. While I maintain many of the hopes and dreams I had freshman year, I’ve realized that college is hard. The cliché saying that “college will be the best four years of your life” may eventually ring true for me, but not because college is easy.

For me, my time in college has been an uncovering and vulnerable experience. My years in college have been memorable and impactful because college has thrown me into the process of becoming. I think college raises many mental health challenges because it is a major life change. Suddenly there is nowhere to hide. The cliques of high school, your parents, the extracurriculars are stripped away and you’re left with yourself.

College is a paradox. As students, we’ve been socialized to ignore ourselves and the deep inner workings of our mind: keep it surface level. Yet, by ignoring the complexity of our souls in the years prior, we’re left confused with who we are and who we want to be. College is a paradox. College is the great uncovering. College is vulnerable. I could get away with ignoring my emotions in high school because I had both hands to hold up the mask, but in college you use one hand to finish the essay that’s due tomorrow and the other hand looking for friends, so then the mask falls. You’re left uncovered and it’s an unsettling experience, unless you realize everyone else is as vulnerable as you. Nonetheless, college is a paradox. With every demolition, there is the ability to build back even better. If you let it, college can be the best four years of your life, because it can be the turning point. The point where you let go of the limiting beliefs you’ve held over yourself and your life, and you choose to build back with new beliefs, curiosities, and hopes. College is a paradox because you enter as one person and you leave as the same person, but you couldn’t be any more different than the person who stepped on campus four years ago.