OPINION: The idealization of college life

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Madison McIntyre is a sophomore communications
and political science double major from Akron, Ohio.
SAM CARAVANA / THE DEPAUW

“College will be the best four years of your life.” This phrase is supposed to be an uplifting encouragement for all college students and those about to be. However, for me, I couldn’t help but feel a monumental pressure on my shoulders. “The BEST four years of your LIFE,” they say. I expected every day to be an idealistic version of a television show or movie. I thought I would never experience disappointment, downfalls, loneliness and heartbreak during my four years at DePauw.

Reality is there have been many moments when I was disappointed, felt alone and was heartbroken crying in my dorm room. There were times I called my mom begging to make the five-hour drive and come home for some normalcy. I experienced heartbreaks from lost friendships from high school to a failed long distance relationship. I went through Greek recruitment and dropped out before Bid Night and watched from my dorm room window as my friends ran to their new homes. I came to DePauw as a Varsity volleyball player and had to give up my dream of being a 4-year collegiate athlete at the beginning of my sophomore year. It was a dream that I had strived for since I was 15 years old, maybe even before then.

When you look at life, you see an idealistic vision of what you want the future to be. As I look back on my college career it is nowhere close to where 18-year-old Madison imagined.

And that’s okay.

Everything that I thought was a tragedy at the time, has opened up doors and opportunities that I just purely couldn’t imagine. Due to dropping out of recruitment, I met my closest friends and became a stronger and more independent woman. I also had the amazing opportunity of going Greek in the fall without the pressure from formal recruitment. Without being a varsity athlete, I was able to invest my time in multiple of my passions including film, television and travel. I visited New York City in the fall for the first time and with my time at the television station, became General Manager. It is an absolute dream come true and one of my proudest accomplishments at DePauw that would not have opened up without my passion for volleyball shifting. With that, my confidence in my favorite sport, volleyball, has increased through the volleyball club at school where I met who would be my future little and close friend.

The most important thing to remember when going through a challenge is that it happens to everyone. No one is alone when they think they are the only ones who are sad, lost, alone, disappointed or heartbroken. It happens to all of us and it’s okay because it does truly get better. It’s a hard perspective to have in the moment when it feels like your world around you has crashed, but I personally promise you it will get better.

I hope college isn’t the best four years of your life because you have a long life to live. I do hope that you make the best of everything that happens, the good, the bad and the terrible and that you become the person you need to be.