College /// Culture x

To deal with the anxieties of college, find the rituals that help center you and then be intentional enough to use them.

When you set foot on campus for the first time, you’re a wide-eyed freshman with every opportunity to try something new.

For many, college is an opportunity to experiment with appearance, major and social circles — just to name a few.

You might decide that a pre-med track is the choice for you before remembering, two semesters later, that you’ve always hated biology. Along the way to this realization though, maybe you cut your hair really short and went out three nights a week. Power to you and your self-discoveries.

However, the lack of supervision may have led to some less thrilling and difficult discoveries. Maybe since half of your classes don’t require attendance, you’ve fallen behind on your reading and have no one to blame but yourself.

Maybe on your nights out, you bummed a few cigarettes and now find yourself craving them throughout the day. Maybe you realize that you’re more interested in guys than girls, a realization that you feel wholly unprepared to face on your own.

If you’re lucky, you will have made a good network of friends and acquaintances that you can rely on during these difficult periods. Some of us though, even those with this network, may still find things hard to address though, so we turn inward.

We disconnect from the world around us, inhibited by a powerful mixture of fear and instability, and start neglecting to take care of ourselves as a result.

In college, it’s easy to fall prey to these turns. Life is less stable, no longer punctuated evenly by a big block of school and a household in the care of an entire family. There are fewer people who support you, too: no teacher to encourage you to foster your talents, no parent to make sure you’re on top of everything, no childhood friend that knows every part of you. Less is familiar.

Try your best to fight the urge to hide away; instead, find things that remind you of a comfortable place in life.

For me, that means popping open some Coronas, ordering a large pizza and sitting down for a double feature of “Clueless” and whatever episodes of “Vice News” I’ve missed.

Other times, it’s a long ride in my car on the fringes of Ann Arbor, blasting Britney Spears or Fleetwood Mac or Brockhampton — whichever artist is speaking the most to my pain, really.

None of this behavior is wrong, or even aberrant. Everyone turns to past comforts and anchor activities when things get hard, and when you find people who share your quirky coping mechanisms, you’re prone to open up to them. So go ahead— curl up with a romance novel, indulge in a Netflix binge or do a little online shopping.

Life will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

Writer Profile

Jack Brandon

University of Michigan

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