I have discovered, over the course of my college career, that I often worry- no, agonize- about way too many things. A little worry is healthy, I think. It can keep you from making rash and harmful decisions. However, most of the things I fret about really don’t matter or, at least, shouldn’t matter to me or anyone else. I think most college girls my age can relate to if not all, at least most, of what I’m about to say. So without further ado, here are some (but not all) things college girls need to stop worrying about.
1. Cutting your hair.
Although I had played around with the idea before, I didn’t have the nerve to cut off my hair until I was 18. A large part of the reason I never cut it until then was the fact that some of my family members loved my hair, and I didn’t want to upset them by cutting off a good amount of it. I decided, though, to go ahead and do it because I wanted to separate “high school” me from the new “college me.” And I’m so glad I did. I felt like a whole new person. It gave me the confidence I needed when I walked onto campus the first time, and it can do the same for you, whether you’re walking onto campus for the first or hundredth time.
2. Coloring your hair.
Going along with my first point, if you want to color your hair but are anxious because you don’t know what others will think, just do it. I’ve recently started to experiment with color a lot more than I ever have before. I have some family members who like my blond hair (which, interestingly, wasn’t natural) the best, but I’ve come to realize that that doesn’t matter. All that matters is what I like the best.
3. Wearing what you want.
Some days I want to wear pastel colors and flower prints. Other days, I want to wear a boho dress. But most days, I want to wear my ripped-up black jeans, a black shirt, and, depending on the weather, my beloved black sweater with skulls and crossbones. Sometimes I wonder what people think of what I’m wearing, especially when I go with the ripped, black everything. I’m sure all college girls deal with this thought. But, you know what, as long as you’re happy and comfortable with what you’re wearing, you shouldn’t really care.
4. Being proud of your “weird” and/or “nerdy” pop culture obsessions.
I love alternative music, and I’ll admit that a lot of it is fairly strange and obscure. I love “Doctor Who,” “Twin Peaks,” really good horror movies, really awful horror movies, and books. God, I love books more than I love most people. I have piles and piles of them stacked in my room and on my bookshelves, and I feel like a colossal disappointment to the bookish world if I don’t buy at least one book every time I go to a bookstore. I know a lot of people who are proud to sport a “Sherlock” (from the BBC show) or a Captain America t-shirt. And almost everyone loves “Harry Potter,” so why should you not show off your love for other “weird” or “nerdy” things?
5. Not being a “typical” college student.
I honestly don’t know how to define a “typical” college student, but what I think of is someone who goes to class and does all they can in school, but still likes to go out, drink, and socialize at parties and that sort of thing. Let me be clear: I have no problem with students who drink and party. It’s just not my thing. At all. And I hate that I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’m missing out on real college life because of this. I’d rather put all my energy into school, work, and my school newspaper, and then go out with my friends later for a tame night when I have time. If you, too, prefer to put all your focus on school, that’s totally acceptable. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you know when to take a step back and relax for a minute.
6. Being an English major.
Of course, I don’t think you should worry about people judging you by your major no matter what you’re studying. However, I’ve noticed that people don’t take English (or really any of the humanities) too seriously, which is ridiculous because they’re hugely important. Not much is more annoying than someone badgering you about why you chose your major and what you think you can do with it. What is worse, though, is when you start to let other people’s doubts get into your own mind.
7. Being intelligent.
Do you ever feel like you have to apologize for being smart, or always being called on in class? If so, you shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with knowing the answers and getting good grades, and it’s really frustrating when you work hard to be successful and then have people discount what you’ve done or call you a know-it-all. Don’t pay those people any attention. They probably feel threatened by you, and that’s their problem, not yours.
8. Being reserved.
Yes, there is such a thing as being too quiet and not ever participating in class or not ever meeting new people. However, there is nothing wrong with being reserved and not offering your opinion or walking up to every person you see and introducing yourself to him or her. It’s okay to not want to go out of your way to say hi to an acquaintance or prefer not to chitchat with the cashier at the grocery store.
9. Not wanting a family in the foreseeable future (or ever).
First of all, I am not in any way saying I think it’s bad to want to get married and have kids early in your life. I know, however, that’s not for me, and I’m sure some of you other college girls feel the same way. I don’t know how many times I have to tell people I’m not interested in finding the love of my life tomorrow, marrying him, and taking care of him and our kids for the rest of our lives. (I also realize that couples work together, and I wouldn’t necessarily be the sole caretaker of the family, but after having a couple of family members suggest I learn how to cook for my future husband, I get pretty fired up on this topic.) I do know I want to get married some day, but I don’t know that I’ll ever want kids. Some people just don’t want the whole family thing, and that’s perfectly okay. If you feel that way, don’t let someone else pressure you into doing it just because that’s what’s perceived as “normal.”
10. Being selfish.
Going along with my last point, it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes, especially now when most of us aren’t responsible for other people, namely spouses or children. I have my own dreams that have absolutely nothing to do with anyone but me. I want to finish my undergrad and at least get a Masters, if not a Doctorate degree. I want to write everything from my next news article at my local paper to a full-length novel. I want to travel not only the country but also the world and take photos of the beautiful people and places I find. I want to live on my own, depend on myself, not answer to anyone but me. This kind of selfishness is good, even necessary, I think. You should do whatever makes you happy so you don’t wake up twenty years from now and regret the things you didn’t do and the chances you didn’t take.
11. Being uncertain.
I don’t want to encourage you to second guess yourself, but it’s okay to wonder if you made the right decision about school, a relationship, a job- whatever. For example, I sometimes wonder if it would’ve been a better decision for me to study Political Science because I find it absolutely riveting, and I wanted to be a lawyer all throughout high school. Also, if you don’t know for sure what you want to do tomorrow, or next month, or next year, that’s okay, too. If you read that last point, you’ll have noticed I don’t know either. Don’t get so hung up on your uncertainties that you never make a decision and move forward with your life.
12. Saying “no.”
When I reflect on my life, I realize that I’ve often been a people-pleaser. If someone asks me to do something, I’m almost always going to do it. Ask me to help with a paper, grab your binder from the classroom down the hall, go to a movie tonight even though I’m tired and just want to stay home? I’ll say yes to all of these because I don’t want to upset anyone. I know people have said this before because I’ve read it several times, but you’re not obligated to do anything for anyone. Do things for others because you want to; that makes those things a lot more meaningful.
13. Being perfect.
It’s hard for me to deal with this one, but it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to get a B on a exam. It’s okay to not win every game. It’s okay to fail, to fall apart sometimes. Nobody is perfect all the time, and that’s the way it should be.
14. Meeting expectations.
All in all, what I’m saying is that you should stop worrying about meeting expectations from others and yourself. When it comes down to it, your life is your life. It’s your responsibility to make it beautiful, boisterous, and messy, a life you really lived. So, don’t disrespect others, but also don’t think you should live up to their expectations or ideas of who you are. And don’t let your own expectations of yourself get in your way, either. Don’t necessarily lower them, maybe just allow yourself to change them as needed.
And above all, remember it’s your life and your happiness. Don’t let anyone change that.