College – the exhilarating era of change in everybody’s lives. But college is already a big step and there’s something very specific about college that makes it so. We think of the word ‘college’, and all the meanings and implications behind it – and a shiver runs down our spines. Well, some of us, at least. 

It’s not uncommon to go through five years of high school with the belief that it’s all about studying and exams. When really, it isn’t just about education. It’s about how college can challenge you into doing the best of the best, having fun, having success in your final exams. College can most definitely be stressful – there is no lie hidden in there. But it’s also the time where you truly find yourself and find the inner you. You might not be thanking college right now, but in the end, you will.

As college students, we find ourselves stepping out of our comfort zones and into a brand new world in front of us. But what does that really mean? We explore the extracurriculars in our school, turning our noses up at lame-sounding clubs and rushing to put our names down for “cool” ones – all this helps with finding our true passion. Or maybe, your passion isn’t an extracurricular. Maybe it’s Science, English or Math. Perhaps your passion is lying in one of those subjects and waiting for you to dig it up and pursue it. 

Also, during the process of finding our passion, we tend to hide away behind others. We don’t think about our needs and wants, and instead we think about the students around us. At some point, you’ll realise that you’ve been following the crowd and that this was never what you wanted to do. You’re going to look back and say, ‘wow, I regret not being myself and being like the others just to fit in’. You realise that you should have worn your hair in space buns that mufti day or joined that chess club you’ve always wanted to join but didn’t, because you feared being judged by others. What does this teach us? It teaches us to have no regrets, be who we are and be unafraid of getting ‘hate’ that won’t even matter in a few years. That’s something Math won’t be able to teach us.

“Some people say you are going the wrong way, when it’s simply a way of your own.” – Angelina Jolie.

 

Standing out in a crowd isn’t easy – that’s why most people, even adults, have trouble doing it. This idea is in relation to being yourself, but actually, it is slightly easier to stand out in college.

This may seem like a weird idea at first, but you notice that as a high school student, college is a larger place, population wise. We usually like to stick to the crowd as said in the previous paragraph, but once we are matured and realise that there is more to life than following the crowd, we decide to stick up for ourselves. We rise from the flames of youth, emerge from the shadows of doubt and uncertainty, and finally learn the most valuable lesson college can teach us: once we are ourselves, it’s far better than being someone who simply isn’t you.

You don’t need to be good at sports or good at maths. College isn’t just about competitively chucking a ball at the other team hoping it would hit them (PE dodgeball, I’m looking at you), it can be about laughing with your friends while dodging these balls, not really caring or taking it personally if you’re “out” – instead, genuinely enjoying every moment and making it a memory. College isn’t just about studying, it can be about having fun and it’s all up to you, whatever path you want to take. This is the chance you get to prove to everyone that you are who you are and that shouldn’t change the way others think of you.

So far, I’ve learnt that you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it. As long as you have passion and determination, you can do it. I’ve been personally challenged in more ways than I could have ever imagined since starting college. And for the older, more jaded senior students, this is most definitely not the end. College is honestly just the start of your maturity and the way to find yourself and who you truly are deep inside.

Written by Chanel Lai. Edited by Angela Zhang. Published on 28/08/2019. Header image: U.S. Embassy, Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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