Let’s talk about it: Leaving for college is scary

Ava Razavi

There seems to be a constantly ticking countdown for college-bound students that starts the moment they begin high school. It’s a loud, deep and seemingly hollow sound, almost as if it’s haunting me. It follows me everywhere — from my dreams to conversations with friends.

This looming countdown is slowly but surely reminding me that my childhood is coming to a close. In a couple of months, there will be no parents to cook for me when I’m being lazy, no dog to make me smile when I’m down, no more seeing my best friends daily and no more private room to hide in when life is a little too much.

I always knew this day would come — when I leave everything I know and love behind. Despite anticipating my departure, I cannot deny that I’m often paralyzed with anxiety when I think of the future. How could I not be? The statistics are horrifying. More than one in four women are sexually harassed on college campuses. Approximately 45 percent of students experience severe depression when in college. California college students are so overwhelmed by this sudden transition that almost half of the students who begin a degree program drop out. So, let’s talk about it: these facts don’t make the college experience look good.

Julia Frankus

I guess getting a higher education in America comes at a cost. Honestly, the punishment does not feel like it fits the crime – at all. From sorority and fraternity hazing to shared showers to endless hookup culture, college seems to be a cruel concept created by an evil higher power. I feel like an alien, listening to my peers talk about wanting to go to huge college football games or frat parties with perfect smiles plastered across their faces. I wish I could share the same excitement they do about college. I really do. I want to want to go to college.

But I’m afraid. And I’m starting to notice that others are too; they’re just faking that they’re not. Leaving home for the first time is scary, and it’s normal to feel anxious about it. Fear isn’t a bad emotion unless you’re constantly demonizing and trying to push it out of your life. According to Psychologist Russ Hariss, “The more we try to avoid the basic reality that all human life involves pain, the more we are likely to struggle with that pain when it arises, thereby creating even more suffering.”

Life will never be perfect, and college most definitely will not be close to perfect. However, accepting that this major life change will contain feelings of fear, anxiety, loneliness and grief is how we come to terms with our future. Recognizing these feelings will make them seem so much less powerful and open up space for other positive emotions, such as not having to take a math course anymore and not having to shove through overcrowded halls to get to class.

So if you’re scared, please share that fear because I’m sick of pretending like I’m the only one who isn’t excited to start over with no one and nothing I know. Maybe I really am alone in this, but if I’m not, I want you to know: it’s okay to be scared of all this change. I’m scared too.