College and young women: almost adulting.
For some, the college years can be some of the most rewarding and fun years of your life. For others, it is filled with stress, anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, depression and frustration. And sometimes, it can be both fun, AND hard. Sometimes the thought that these are supposed to be the “best years of my life,” compounds the bad feelings at this age.
College is the time when you are ALMOST, but not quite, an adult. There are unique struggles that come with growing up. You are independent, yet still reliant on your parents in at least some ways. Most of the young women I have worked (as well as myself being a former college student) have experienced issues with some of the following:
Feeling an overall lack of direction in life
Poor grades OR too much pressure on grades
Partying and drinking too much OR feeling leftout because that’s not your scene
Keeping self-respect in a “hook-up” culture
Lack of social engagement OR social life prevents you from keeping other obligations
Dating relationships or lacking these relationships
Anxiety about trying new things
Female Friendships- mean, “fake” girls
Identity struggles- Who am I, really?
Here are a few thoughts and tips to take away if you are struggling in college.
1.Consider talking to a counselor on campus, or a therapist like myself away from campus. There are people that are trained to listen, understand, and validate you, your feelings, and your concerns. They can help give you some guidance when you feel lost.
2. Challenge yourself in some way. If you are shy, join that club. If you are super outgoing, stay in a weekend and get some extra studying done. You want to be flexible enough in your personality that you reach outside your comfort zones.
3. Don’t keep fake friends. If you are uncomfortable in your group, or with a certain person, don’t force it. A true friend accepts you and your quirks. They are a positive support yet honest enough to call you out on something if it hurts them, or hurts yourself! It’s also important to keep an open dialogue with friends and be able to hear each other out.
4. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t go home EVERY weekend. If you are living on a college campus,challenge yourself to do things on campus on a weekend. Find a friend that will be willing to work out with you, do dinners, do activities or sports, etc. College campuses always are having things going on, if you look for it. Get to know your school resources so you can get access to this info if you don’t already!
5. If you have a significant other, make sure you aren’t spending every waking minute together or texting. You will miss out on other important experiences. And, a good partner will understand that you have outside, independent friends and interests. And they should too!
6. Learn time-management and discipline. So studying and cleaning and working and other responsibilities aren’t so fun, most of the time. But delaying gratification is important. Try rewarding yourself with something you want to do after some hard work. If you struggle with this, make sure you have some kind of structure to your day or schedule that you follow. You can allow for some flexibility, but not so much that you don’t adhere to what needs to get done. People also tend to feel their best mentally and physically when they push themselves to utilize their potential. And then when you have fun, you can truly relax!
7. If you don’t know what you want to major in right away, try a couple classes in a topic that interests you. While you do have to declare a major at some point, you usually have some time initially to learn what you like (and don’t like!!)
8. If you feel depressed, anxious and alone, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone to let them know. Suffering in silence makes things worse. Even if it is hard to share, it is often the first step towards feeling better and healing emotional pain.
I’ve never met a person who hasn’t made mistakes, particularly in college, so give yourself some grace. At the same time, remember to learn from the mistakes you make so that they are valuable lessons. Most positive change starts because something else wasn’t working out so well, so remember that you can always change your mind, start fresh, and try again.