The Okay-est Years of Our Lives

KACIE GROSSMEIER, OPNINION COLUMNIST

Kacie Grossmeier ’15, is an English major and Peace and Justice minor from Mukwonago, WI.

In the summer of 2012, I moved into Mad-Lor with my best friend from high school, prepared to make memories that would last a lifetime. Now, I am just weeks away from obtaining a bachelor’s degree and quite honestly cannot wait to get the heck out of here.

Where did things go so wrong? College was supposed to be the best four years of my life. I’m supposed to never want to graduate. These were going to be the best days of my life.

Looking back on my college career, I see a lot of good times, maybe even some great times. But the best times of my life? Not even close. If these were the best years of my life, the next 60-plus years of my life are going to totally suck.

We enter college believing in this fallacy that college is going to be the climax of life. We think it is where everything will fall into place, and we will leave with amazing friendships, maybe even a life partner, and the most amazing memories. College is sold to us as the ride of a lifetime that is only available for four years before we become the creepy alumni who keep coming back to relive the glory days.

College is fun, don’t get me wrong. But college isn’t and shouldn’t be the best years of our lives.

Personally, college has been more than some wild nights on Main St. and Packer games tail-gaiting with friends. College was a stepping stone on the path toward not only what I want to do with my life but also who I want to become.

Aside from the whole “being here for a higher education” thing, college was a place of self-discovery and growth. Instead of being surrounded by friends all the time, like I thought I’d be, I spent a lot of time throughout college alone—watching Netflix, studying, filling out job applications, and finding myself.

Really, college is just sitting with your laptop in different places.

In college, I spent more time working on myself than I did anything else. Beyond parties and opportunities to use loans to travel abroad, college is time. Time to think. Time to dream. Time to have quarter-life crises over what I’m doing with my life.

To be sure, I made friends; even some best friends who I know will be a part of my life for decades to come. But, more importantly, I made friends with myself.

I don’t mean I’m done growing now that I’m graduating. My future plans are still largely uncertain, and most days I feel like I’m barely surviving. Yet I believe that is the real college experience. Forget the superficial parties, sorority drama and insta-worthy pictures with friends. College is part of a process in which we grow and mature into more knowledgeable and self-aware humans. College is for taking the time to grow up and become somebody before entering the real world.

These years are amazing, yes, but also hard, expensive and stressful. They are also necessary. I know for a fact that I am not the same person today that I was freshman year, and for that I am grateful. College gave me the time to discover who I am, as well as the resources to get on the path toward who I want to be.

Today, I approach graduation knowing that good things are yet to come, that the unforgettable memories haven’t even been imagined yet and the best times of my life are still on the horizon. College was never meant to be the only years of life worth living. College is just a way of getting there.

http://theodysseyonline.com/illinois-state/michael-jackson-voice/123233

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