I knew college would be hard. I knew that I had worked hard to get into Michigan, and I thought I was smart enough to go here. After all, I got in, didn’t I? That had to mean something about my qualification, right? What I didn’t know, however, is how hard Michigan is once you’re in. Many elite schools (such as Harvard, not that I’m comparing Michigan and Harvard) are known for inflating the grades of their students and having high average GPAs.
The same cannot be said for Michigan, which I didn’t know when I started here. As someone who did fairly well in high school without a ton of effort, I really wasn’t ready for how hard this school would be. And as someone who takes a lot of pride in doing well in school and getting good grades, this school has been hard for me both academically and emotionally.
College is a big transition for everyone, and I made mine harder by choosing a school 600 miles away from home. I can’t drive home on the weekend if I want to see my family, and they can’t just pop in to see me either. I miss my family all the time, and the weather here doesn’t help with that! It’s dark, and grey, and cold, all the time. All. The. Time. I haven’t seen the sun for more than three days in a row since about October. Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I always thought was made up, hit me hard in January. Turns out it’s real and it happens to people who aren’t used to winter!
Combine that feeling of malaise due to the winter with difficult academics and struggling grades, and you have a recipe for disaster. I constantly feel like I’m not good enough to be here. Moments before writing this, I cried on the phone with my mom for 45 minutes about how I’m terrified my life will be a disaster, I’m not good enough to be here, I’ll never be successful, and I’m going to live under an overpass for the rest of my life. I know I was overreacting due to a lot of stress right now and a far from ideal living situation, but the feelings I was expressing are ones I’ve been feeling for a long time.
I look around at the other people here and everything seems to be so easy for them. They have a major set, they know roughly what they want to do with their lives, they’re getting good grades, and they have time to go out and have a life. I don’t have a major, I don’t know what I want to do with my life, I’m getting decent grades but by no means are they good, and I almost never go out. They’re the president of two clubs and active members in their fraternity/sorority/dorm council, as well as participating in three other clubs and volunteering on the weekends. I’m sort of in one club, but I’m not involved in much. I really regret not getting more involved this year, and I plan to do more next year, but part of me feels like when I apply for internships or to the Ford School of Public Policy they’ll see my lack of freshman year involvement and write me off.
I’m not someone who expresses emotions easily, and I’m not used to feeling this useless and unsure. I genuinely feel like I got in here by accident, and every day I wonder if I’ll be successful here. Every day I wonder if I’ll get a good enough GPA to get a good internship, be involved enough to get a leadership position in a student org, and do enough volunteer work to show the school of public policy that I’m serious about helping the world around me. Most of the time, I feel like the answer to those questions is no. I can’t tell you the last time I felt good enough to do what I want in life, and that feeling scares me to death.
I have a 5-year Q&A A Day journal I keep on my desk beside my bed that I fill out every night according to the question it poses. The other day, it asked me when the last time I felt like I was on top of the world was. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then realized that I couldn’t remember when I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything I thought of was from before I came to college, which I think says a lot about what my college experience has been so far. It’s been hard, scary, and emotionally draining. I think to an outsider it would look like I’m doing well, and I’m not even sure that my friends know how unsure I am on a daily basis. Now they do, I guess, because they’ve read this, but it isn’t something I talk about with them in any way other than joking about it.
I wish I could end this post with some sort of statement about what I’m going to do to make myself feel like I am good enough, but I can’t. Frankly, I have no idea what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep working and hope I figure it out one day, or maybe I’ll just feel like this forever. I hope not, but I guess I just have to trust the process and try to find reassurance that one day I’ll know what I want to do. It isn’t today, and it won’t be tomorrow, but maybe it’ll come sooner rather than later. I’ll keep hoping for that.