Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed you leave high school, ready to take a bite out of college. You may have envisioned rigorous coursework, significant others, school-sponsored events, parties and many other quintessential cogs in the clockwork of college. You leap from the nest and land right inside the college experience. It’s truly special and unforgettable. With this being said, we often assume that the college experience only encompasses fun times. But really, the protein of the college experience can include some of the worst times of your life.
For example, my freshman year was one of the worst years of my life. Not only because I was away from home, but because I was going to the wrong school. Central Washington University had essentially nothing to offer me except a lot of alone time and about 30 extra pounds. However, I cite this as one of the most pivotal times in my life because, for the first time, I was forced to lock eyes with what was out there besides my hometown humdrum. I spent months just sitting and thinking about any way I could get out of Ellensburg, fantasizing about getting accepted into different schools or leading a different life. Yet, despite it all, in my moment of darkness, I had to take a step forward; I had to tell myself that it wasn’t too late to find even a portion of the life I wanted. By spring quarter that year, I was enrolled at UW Tacoma.
UW Tacoma has given me all I could ever hope for in terms of the college experience. I have made lifelong friends and honed my passions — but, it wasn’t always fun either. My sophomore year handed me a roommate that was sexist, racist, and overall inconsiderate. Nearly everything that came out of his mouth was grotesque and the antithesis to my moral code. However, there was just the smallest coexistence of common ground between us. It had nothing to do with our worldviews. None of the big things, just the little things.
In college, you’re bound to have classmates, roommates, group partners and professors that you’ll loathe with every fiber of your being. But what they don’t tell you before you get to college is that the most valuable lesson is learning how to find common ground with those people — to collaborate, to laugh and to celebrate. Because the honest truth is that after college, and for the rest of your life, you’re bound to meet coworkers, bosses and people that you just don’t like. But you can’t go through life expecting your social interactions to be perfectly curated to your exact comfortability. You’re going to need to shake a few hands that just don’t feel right.
Of course, I’m not telling you to just accept awful things the way they are. You should always be reaching, feeling and looking for something new. It’s just your job to know when it’s time. So when you leave this school, just like I am about to, you’ll need to cite the good and the bad times from college to succeed.