College is all about treating yourself

It's okay to be a little selfishness

lf17-AlyLee

“Treat yo’ self.”

I have unabashedly said that phrase far too many times this semester. Although I abhor the fact that meme culture has become so ingrained in my subconscious, I must admit this mantra has become the theme of my college experience. Treat yo’ self. You deserve this. You do you. It’s cute. It’s kind of freeing. 

I didn’t always think like this. Pre-college me was very restrained — “I want to eat a whole box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but that would be unheard of. That would be rude, that would be unhealthy!” College me says “treat yo’ self” and eats the whole box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch because I deserve those crazy squares and I will do me.

I can chalk this up to the individualistic materialism of the United States, but really, I think this has to do more with the nature of the stage of life I am in.

This is college.

People can debate about what the true purpose of college is. Is it to prepare yourself for a fruitful career? Is it to discover who you truly are? Is it to make a lot of mistakes and live a little recklessly before being shrunk down into society’s gray boxes? Though there is no clear answer, it’s clear that all of these purposes seem centered on one thing — yourself. At the root of it, college is all about treating yourself. 

These past few days of career, major and class advising sessions circulating on Grounds have been a subtle reminder of this to me. All of these people and tools have been put at my disposal with the goal of trying to make me stand out, to find the things that truly suit my tastes and to put me on the greatest path possible.

I’m not saying any of that is bad — it just feels a little selfish. Without my parents watching over me to try to please or the dumb cliquey pressures of high school, college has been a time where I’m allowed — and even told — to put my own desires and goals at the forefront of each thing I do.

What’s ironic is that college is said to be this time to forge blissful friendships that last a lifetime. While I think that does happen, it seems rather paradoxical to have this time where we’re meant to make everlasting friendships while also trying to individually be the best we can be. In a talented and competitive college like the University, to be individually the best is almost impossible, and to be better sometimes means to be better at the expense of those around you. This is why I theorize college can be so hard sometimes. As much as we may desire to love and serve one another, to live in this idyllic college brochure-kind of unity, at the root of it, most everyone’s chief concern is about themselves and the next steps they want to take.

Again — I’m not saying any of this is necessarily bad. We do need to think about what we can do to stand out. We do need to push ourselves to be the best we can be. Ambition is not synonymous with selfishness. However, I do think this line gets blurred. And I’ve personally been struggling to see when I have crossed it.

So, I don’t think it’s selfish that I wanted to eat a whole box of ingloriously sugary cereal. This freedom and independence is one of the amazing aspects of college. However, I am trying to consider when my personal goals to succeed get in the way of caring for those around me.

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