You spend a lot of time preparing for your first year of college. There is the application process, finding a roommate, picking out cute dorm room accessories, and deciding what to leave and take with you for the journey. Not to mention the process you go through deciding what college to attend in the first place.
You are filled with so many emotions.
Uncertainty. Excitement. Nervousness. Happiness.
What happens when you realize that things aren’t what you thought they would be?
You were expecting college life to be great. Your friends are constantly posting about how much fun they’re having, the new friends they’re making, and how awesome their professors are, but you’re not feeling any of those things.
You seem to be having the opposite experience.
A roommate you don’t jive with. Professors that seem to be talking gibberish while teaching (ahem, psychology) class. Trouble finding people that you connect with and feel comfortable around. This isn’t the experience we are often told to expect, but it’s the experience many of us have when we transition into young adulthood and are thrown into this new world.
What happens when college isn’t all you thought it would be?
Often times, movies portray the so-called “typical college life” as a time of parties, fraternities and sororities, and late night coffee breaks at Barnes and Noble. We come to expect that college will look the same for us. And for some, maybe that is the experience they will have. But for others, it looks nothing like the movies.
I’ve been there. I experienced similar frustrations with college life my freshman year. It threw me for a major loop because I wasn’t expecting not to like it. I wasn’t expecting to struggle with keeping my studies up. I wasn’t expecting to have trouble finding people to connect with or to feel like I had made the wrong choice in colleges.
I felt discouraged. I wanted to give up.
I wanted to pack up my stuff, gather my cute desk accessories and move back home, where I felt accepted and loved.
I thought that perhaps I had not listened to God enough and had made the wrong choice.
Why was I struggling so much? Was it not in God’s will for me to be here? Was I not good enough?
If you find yourself reading this post and saying yes, me too, may I offer some encouragement to you today?
I know that right now it looks like everyone else around you is finding their place and loving their new-found independence, but you are not alone. College can be scary and overwhelming, especially if you’re already feeling out of place.
So how can you move past your failed expectations?
Try getting out of your comfort zone.
It can be intimidating to try out new groups, but consider stepping out of your comfort zone and attending an interest meeting for a campus organization. What are your passions and interests? One of the great things about college is that are so many organizations to get involved in and they often have something that will match at least one of your interests. Perhaps you enjoy music or working with children. Or perhaps you want to get linked up to an on-campus ministry. Now is the time to be brave and try out new things!
If this is something you struggle with, ask God to guide you to new people and groups that will help you flourish. This was one of the hardest things for me to do personally and I do understand how intimidating it can be. But think about the potential for blessings to flow from it!
Look for ways YOU can be an influence on someone.
Maybe you and your roommate are from completely different walks of life. Maybe your roommate isn’t a believer, or is well-versed in the Bible. Ask yourself, why is God placing these people in front of me? How can I be an influence on them? What kind of influence could they have on me? There are opportunities all around you to be a positive, godly influence. Ask God to show them to you if you are having trouble.
Don’t get dependent on just a few people.
My roommate and I were friends going into college. We were both so excited about rooming with each other and would have long talks leading up to it about how much fun we were going to have together. Although we were comfortable with each other, I wasn’t necessarily comfortable meeting new people right away, so I clung to her instead of branching out to meet others and get involved in new things. What I ended up doing was closing myself off.
If she couldn’t go with me somewhere (to a club meeting for example), I would choose not to go and stayed in my dorm room. I became very dependent on her. I longed for familiarity, for something that felt like home. Looking back, I regret not trying my own things in the beginning and getting so dependent on my friend (hence my encouragement on trying new things!).
Try to look at meeting new people as a fun thing with little pressure. If you click with someone, great! If not, there are PLENTY more people to try and connect with. It took me a while before I stepped out in faith alone and began meeting new people. Give yourself grace here!
What does God say?
When college isn’t what you thought it would be it’s really easy to turn to God and demand answers for questions like: What is my purpose here? Why did you lead me to this school if it was going to be this hard? Where do I go from here?
One truth about that I have seen proved many times over is that . . .
[Tweet “God will bring good from even the darkest and most hopeless of situations.”]
You may feel disappointed right now. Alone. Confused. Or even let down by your expectations. God knows your heart and what you desire. Through time, prayer, and seeking Him you will be able to discern your next steps.
If college isn’t what you thought it would be, it’s okay to acknowledge your failed expectations, but be careful not to close yourself off to what God could be working through you and for you.
It took me a few years to really feel that I was connected with my school and find a group of friends I connected with on many levels. Experiencing this for me personally drew me closer to God in a way that I might not have had I had a different college experience. In those moments of loneliness, I had so many doubts and questions and maybe you do too. Make your own experience and find encouragement that college doesn’t look the same for everyone.
[Tweet “God is there. He is with you. He will bring good to you through this.”]
Are you struggling today with a failed expectation of college?
How can you open up to others and be an influence on them?
What are some things you enjoy about college life?