Not Your Average
Throughout years and years of growing up we- being young, impressionable, and naive- were constantly fed with a standard for what was “socially acceptable.” We were told to do a, b, and c. Make a lot of friends, do well in school, go to football games and have fun, but don’t do drugs. For most, your high school experience was often put on a higher pedestal than Obama and it’s likely that you were perpetually reminded of how amazing those four years would be. Then, college rolled around, and those four years were put on an even higher pedestal. Once again, the same formula for a good time is inhaled into our esophagi. College supposedly should involve a lot of drinking, socializing 24/7, and partying, all while balancing your GPA. It’s safe to say that the latter is what conventional college students do- whether some admittedly enjoy the culture or not.
Going to school in New York City as opposed to a “traditional” college with perfectly mowed greens and sororities is a major difference. The two are night and day. I was one hundred percent confident I wanted the urban college lifestyle rather than the traditional college lifestyle. I couldn’t- and still can’t- imagine subjecting myself to having to endure a round table of constant “NOs” from extraneous girls during recruitment. Or having only one option of going out and that involving drinking beer in a basement more humid than east coast summers with guys who are a third-wave-feminist’s worst nightmare. I just knew going to college in a major metropolitan city, in my case Manhattan, would be right for me.
And though I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy going to college here, I didn’t expect myself to adapt as I did.
Upon entering college I did everything I thought “normal” NYC college students did. I experienced bars, clubs, apartment parties, and stayed out later than ever in this wild city. But, my inclination to go out and do what conventional students do to have fun slowly kept declining. Practicing mindfulness has always been a struggle of mine, and I found it incredibly hard for me to go out without feeling suffocated mentally and fight an ardent desire to simply leave. Even though part of me felt like I should go out because that’s what I’m “supposed” to do, I decided to listen to my heart instead.
This is when I realized that I’m not your average.
I told myself that this year I’d listen exactly to what my instincts tell me. If that’s staying in and finishing up some reading on a Friday night, then so be it. If that’s going out to a friend’s apartment, then so be it. I am an inherent introvert- INFJ to be exact- and my inclination to stay in rather than socialize with a large group of people is a direct correlation to my personality. (A post about being an INFJ is very warranted, and something I’ve been wanting to touch on, so let me know if you guys would be interested.) The issue isn’t actually the act of staying in that bothers me, it’s more of the social pressures of thinking I should be out socializing that bothers me. For the times I decide to curl up into a ball on my bed and watch a good documentary or read some mentally stimulating yet confusing articles on a random website I usually feel satisfied. What more could someone want to feel, right? But, it’s the thought that I should be out, because maybe I would have fun, and perhaps I should push myself to venture out of my comfort zone that bugs the living shit out of me.
What if I decided to go out tonight, and met someone absolutely amazing? What if I went out tonight and someone, miraculously enjoyed myself and was fully present the whole time?
You can argue that thinking about ‘what ifs’ are futile, but I beg to differ. I don’t have a solution to this internal conflict. And I’m not quite sure I will ever. Yet I suppose being fully aware of the internal conflict is the best we can do. And finding others who are going through the same will certainly make this journey easier for the best of us.
To sum this enigma of a struggle up, here are some things I tell myself when I doubt my decisions:
–You’re listening to your gut instincts, which are usually right, so just immerse yourself in the present moment and continue doing whatever makes you feel content- even if that’s watching Netflix.
–Social pressures and the standards along with it are utter bullshit. There’s no “right” way you should be living your college experience. Do what makes you happy.
–If you have the desire to go out and socialize then pick up your phone right now and make plans for tomorrow if today is too late. Once they’re set, there’s no going back. Even if going out provides a sense of accomplishment more than a sense of pleasure, then accept that. You are who you are.
To those reading this, you are always invited to leave your comments- good, bad or indifferent- but consider this an especially enticing invitation to comment. Simply being understood is all we can ask for.
I hope you all have an incredible day or night, talk to you soon.