Experiences over expectations

By: Annie Sragner, Associate Arts & Life Editor

The beginning of a new school year invokes countless expectations of what’s to come. Nerves may tighten over the abundance of studying, and excitement stirs in anticipation of new people and opportunities.

But in a larger sense, these connotations about college are essentially hearsay from the people who have already experienced it.

The classic tales of parties, all-nighters in the library, and football games may be common for many students, but involvement occurs individually and uniquely for each person.

Going into my senior year, I have learned that the college experience is different for each person. There is a lot of pressure during these four (if you’re lucky enough) years to be the best ones of your life because that’s what has been ingrained in us.

There is no right or wrong way to do college – it is only what you make it. Others’ expectations of what college should be can only influence your experience as much as you let them.

Whether this is your first or fifth year, every day you have the chance to take the college experience in a new direction.

Finding a good route usually comes from making decisions with your gut instincts. Say ‘yes’ to what feels right and ‘no’ to what doesn’t. Your path will be made by those decisions.

The catch, though, is that sometimes you have to seek out opportunities. My editor once gave me some golden advice: if you don’t talk to the person you sit next to within the first one or two classes, chances are you won’t speak to them for the entirety of the semester.

Even if you have a solid sense of self, you will undoubtedly come across individuals who will alter the way you view yourself, others and the world. Don’t be afraid of releasing yourself from what you once were if it means discovering something new.

In Amy Poehler’s new book “Yes Please,” she makes a sharp observation about growing up by mentioning how “you can watch [young people] throw around their ‘alwayses’ and ‘nevers’ and ‘I’m the kind of person who’s’ and delight in the fact that you are past that point in your life.”

There are no absolutes in life and you will be surprised at how you come out of new situations. Take schoolwork seriously, because you’re paying for an expensive education, but take everything else lightly and don’t let expectations rule your actions.

Have a great new start, and keep reading The Big Picture for more sonder and inspiration.

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