Recently, I’ve encountered several of my friends dealing with some difficult situations in their lives. It made me think about the lessons I’ve been slowly learning over my short life of 20 years on how to deal with pain, especially in one of the biggest transitional periods in our lives: college.
Not only is college preparing you for the future in whatever field you want to go into, but it is also a sort of reality check before you get thrown into what many of our generation calls “adulting.” With the stress of learning how to live with your friends and/or people you have never met before 24/7, handling the heavy workload of college classes, conquering how (or how not to be) single, finding your niche and affording enough sleep and food to help you survive in college, it is almost astonishing how some of us have not run screaming from college life as fast as we can. After surviving my freshman and sophomore years at SNU with a few rough patches of my own, I felt the need to compile a list of helpful tips to survive what probably is one of the most exciting and difficult times of our lives.
1) Tell someone what is going on. Don’t be hesitant to tell someone you are stressed out. Not everyone is blessed with the gift of being empathetic, but most people will be able to sense something is wrong if you talk to them for a few minutes. Talking about what is wrong with someone, regardless of whether or not you go into specifics, is key to making sure you realize that you are not the only one who has experienced these things.
2) Find friends who will always support you. Sometimes we don’t feel like talking about the stuff we are experiencing, even with our closest friends. True friends will know you aren’t sharing all of the tough issues you are working through, but they will wait until you are ready to tell them what you need help with and/or how they can help.
3) Seek a mentor. Whether it’s your favorite professor, someone who works in Student Development or a person in your church, seeking someone who has been through college or who understands the struggles of life more than you do to have coffee with on a regular business can make you feel more at home at college. It can also establish a friendship with somebody wise other than a family member who is willing to lend you a listening ear and/or advice.
4) Take a trip to Renew. Renew Counseling is a great counseling service located next to Student Development that offers six free sessions a year for students. Whether you need to go for one session or all six, Renew is there to help you improve your college experience or sort through the messy things of college.
I am not going to lie to you and say that these tips will always produce positive results right away. But if you are willing to admit that you need prayer or someone to listen to you, chances are there will be someone around willing to give you what you need.