It’s your freshman year and you’re homesick. You gaze longingly at pictures of family and friends, spend hours on the phone with your mom or dad and somehow still find yourself feeling lost and alone as you traipse through the empty hallways of your dorm.
Maybe it’s your sophomore year and you’re just tired of the scene and the people around you. You long for home-cooked meals, your bed and a hug from your parents, but all you seem to find is a warm beer and some take-out pizza at the foot of your bed.
Or perhaps you aren’t getting the grades you want and you’re feeling frustrated and confused; maybe you’re going through a breakup and you cannot seem to face the college hookup scene you’ve been avoiding all this time.
Whatever the reason for your hiding in the basement of your college cafeteria, curled up on a worn out seat cushion of a 1980’s couch with your phone glued to your ear and a tissue in hand, you’re feeling down in the dumps and this has been going on for a while.
But in the midst of partying on the weekends, cramming for exams during the week and catching up with the opposite sex, when does anyone talk about these issues?
People think that college is non-stop fun for every student, but in reality, many students experience feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety on a regular basis, but it’s never discussed openly.
You are not alone.
It may seem like everyone is busy having the time of their life in college, but for a while, I can remember hating school and feeling depressed about it all the time.
I would call my mom crying when my boyfriend did something wrong, after I had a fight with a roommate or I just wasn’t feeling like my sorority was the place for me. I was often feeling confused and hopeless, like I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life after college and how it felt to be around so many others who seemed to have it all “figured out.”
My sophomore year was very difficult because I transferred from a tiny school to a huge university and the adjustment was a bit too much for me to handle. Looking back on it, I wish I had done things to help myself so I could have felt better about my situation.
Join something you DO like.
If I could go back, I would have never wasted time doing things that didn’t mean anything to me because that is exactly what they mean to me now: nothing. I wish I had spent more time doing the things that I not only enjoyed, but would have helped me to better my position as an undergrad and young professional like joining an honors society or academic fraternity.
Once you find yourself in a place you love, you will inevitably meet people just like you with the same interests and goals and thus, open yourself up to meeting so many great people.
Lay off the booze every once in a while.
Believe it or not, those long weekends of drinking can leave you feeling totally drained and depressed for days on end. Looking back, I can remember dreading Sundays because I knew I was going to feel like crap for the next day or so; I felt tired and out of it all Sunday and sometimes even into Monday.
Instead of going out every single weekend, try to find a day or two to just relax and enjoy some time alone or with friends. There is nothing wrong with NOT partying; pop in a movie or order a pizza and hang in for the night.
Alcohol is a depressant so if you are already feeling down, the last thing you want to do is drink and get emotional. Even if you feel fine that night, like I said, you will feel drained and more depressed by the end of the weekend.
Spend more time fixing the things that are making you sad.
No one is going to help you fix your problems, only YOU can do it for yourself. You’re in college now and that means you need to start picking yourself up off the ground; no more mom, no more dad, just you.
If you really take a second and think about why you’re depressed, I bet you will be able to come up with more than one specific reason for your sadness.
If you’re feeling bad because you are doing poorly in school, then stop crying about it and get your butt to the tutoring center right now. Start getting organized and plan out your academic schedule from now until the end of the year. Do whatever you can to help yourself. Put down that beer and pick up a book; you’re depressed because you aren’t getting good grades, but what are you doing about it?
If you’re feeling depressed because of a relationship-gone-bad, then ditch the ball and chain (or take a break) and give yourself some space to breathe. Once you see how much less stressed you are, you may realize that you don’t need him/her as much as you thought you did.
If it’s your roommate or dorm situation that you can’t stand, start looking for another roommate or investigate what you have to do to be assigned a room change. Begin the process of picking out new roommates for the following semester and start planning it out with them. Nothing will make you feel better about a crappy roommate than knowing he/she will be replaced by someone awesome in a few months.
Know that it won’t last forever.
I know it seems like college is the longest time of your life, but it is going to come and go in the blink of an eye. I can’t believe I graduated almost a year ago already; the older you get, the faster time goes by so try and enjoy the time you have in school and don’t let it pass you by without having some good memories.
I know it seems like getting invited to every party is super important or dating that guy/girl you’re not so sure about is the right choice, but in reality, you should trust your instincts and avoid the things that are bringing you down.