Everyone has told you how college was the best four years of their life, from your parents to your friend's parents and even your teachers. But now you are there and you just aren't happy...
"Is this really the best four years of my life, I'm miserable."
I was in the same position and surprisingly there are a large number of college kids who are thinking that same thing each and every day.
College is a combination of social pressure, your first taste of freedom, hard classes and so much more that gets thrown at you all at once. Honestly it can be super overwhelming.
Especially when it comes to the social aspects of college, usually with even more social pressure than we had in high school and that feeling you need to be doing what everyone else is doing to fit in.
That is not how you are going to find some more happiness in college, no matter what the reason you are unhappy is. When you just conform to what everyone else is doing and never take time for yourself you will never find out how to make yourself more happy.
If you are questioning your college experience so far, you are not alone and there are ways to improve it, just keep reading.
What is The College Happiness Epidemic?
You roll out of bed everyday, go to class, grab some food, maybe do some homework and then head to the gym. Then on the weekends you go drinking with some friends and maybe hit a few parties while you are at it. Repeat that for four years and that is most kids' college experience.
College is not at all what you see in movies though, or even on TV during sports games. Sure, maybe a few weekends in the fall there will be giant parties for football games if you go to a larger D1 school, but in reality college is almost the opposite.
You spend more time alone than you might have been used to before and a lot of kids have trouble dealing with that. In high school they were surrounded by their closest friends fro 8 hours a day and were always in contact with them. Now, they get to college and even when they make some new friends, they still have countless hours a day where they are alone with their thoughts because their friends are busy, studying, in class, or with other people.
This gets to be too much for a lot of people to handle and that is when the unhappiness and sometimes depression starts to kick in. They aren't used to having to be alone so much and really don't know what they enjoy personally, outside of say a sport, because they were always with their friends hanging out after school during high school.
This overwhelming amount of time alone in college got to me as well, I felt super alone and really didn't know how to combat it that first year of college. It seemed like everyone else was always doing something and I wasn't, I later realized that this was just my confirmation bias as they would only post on social media when they were doing things, not when they were spending all the other time alone.
Since then, I have found ways to start to shift the focus of all of that alone time and start enjoying your time with yourself much more, because it is actually super valuable.
I would like to preface this by saying I do have a strong friend group and it is still possible to feel alone even with that, and is actually more common than not.
Why So Many Kids Are Unhappy in College
Yet you would never know based on their social media feeds.
It all starts probably junior year of high school when you start looking at colleges and picking where you would like to go. This is the time where everyone older than you seems to be saying how college was the best four years and telling you all their crazy stories. Whether you realize it or not, this builds up in your mind that college is some magical place that you have super high expectations for.
Then when you get there and realize that that is not at all what it is like, you start to feel lost and confused as it is not living up to the very high expectations you had for it. Honestly, some people have such high expectations for college that I don't think the experience could ever live up to their expectations.
Social media is also creating a crazy amount of sadness in college and for very obvious reasons. Just think about it, you only post the parts of your life that you want others to see on social media, and everyone else does exactly that. Except we seem to forget that when we are sitting in our dorm room and scrolling through social media for hours at a time thinking how everyone is having a way better time in college than you are.
Actually, those are just the highlights of their life and they are likely doing exactly the same as you are doing, even though it might not look like it. Same can go for the stories your parents were telling you about college, nobody is going to tell the stories of all the boring days, they are going to tell you the story of that one night out of all four years of college that was absolutely crazy.
Why This is A Problem
If it isn't clear already...
With such high expectations going into college, or going into any situation for that matter, you really are not going to be able to ever live up to them.
Combine that to comparing your college experience with the experience that everyone seems to be having on social media and you are bound for unhappiness.
You don't want to be unhappy with all of this extra time you have to yourself in college as it just is not going to be productive at all and you will just be digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole you don't want to be in.
Instead, we need to start finding more happiness and take control of that extra time to do things we actually enjoy rather than sitting on social media comparing our lives to other peoples lives and feeding your unhappiness.
How to Start Finding More Happiness In College
Yes, this should take priority over parties.
While all the parties are fun the first semester of the first year, honestly after a while they just get super repetitive and it feels like you are living the same weekend over and over. Going to the same bars or clubs or same house parties with the same people.
This leads to extra social pressure now because you feel like you have to go out to the same bars and everything with these people all the time in order to fit in.
Start taking time off from the parties and spend your weekends focused on yourself or doing things you actually enjoy. If your "friends" shame you for doing this or not wanting to go out, were they actually your friends?
The way to start finding more happiness in college is building deeper relationships and doing more of what you are enjoying, not going to the bars all the time. Start spending some nights in and getting closer to these people that you just met, you will learn so much more about them and it will strengthen your friendship, giving you a little more happiness.
Honestly though, the thing that has helped me the most has been taking control of all of that time that I had alone already and being more productive than just gaming or sitting on social media.
I started creating better habits for myself, going outside more, creating a morning routine and doing some more meaningful work on the side of classes. (You can read about all of these habits by clicking here >>)
I also sat down and took the time to figure out what I actually enjoyed, which can actually be harder than it sounds when you are in college and just going with the flow of what everyone else is doing, you can lose who you really are and what you really enjoy trying to fit in.
That lead me to signing up for my now second study abroad and not going out to the bars as I realized traveling was what I really enjoyed the most in life, I was always happiest then.
Take some time to yourself, figure out who you actually are and what you actually like, not this image you might have created for yourself to try to fit in at college.
An Action Plan to Happiness
A step by step on how to start enjoying your day more.
Taking time for yourself
Things to Think About
You have to realize that you are not at all alone if you are feeling this way in college, many more kids feel this way than not yet they just never take the time to open up to anyone about it and that is why you never hear anything about kids being unhappy in college.
Most kids just go out and party to hide the fact that they are actually super sad or are not doing what they actually love and this can lead to many bad habits.
I applaud you for taking the action to search for some help to your happiness problem and I hope some of these strategies were able to help you.
Thanks for reading, if you are not sure where to start in terms of adding more happiness in your life, I have a whole newsletter dedicated to just that, with a few actionable strategies each week being sent to you.
You can sign up for that by clicking here >>
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