After high school graduation I remember feeling an immense sense of relief — a feeling of newness — almost as if I was free to begin a journey of my own. I quickly realized after closing the door on high school and opening the door to college, this was not the case.

Gearing up for college is exhilarating; the excitement paired with anticipation keeps most prospective college students wide-eyed and ready. Beginning college, attending a new institution, being exposed to new ideas, all in the company of unfamiliar people, can bring students a sense of emptiness they never experienced before. 

We’ve all experienced the awkwardness that comes with starting over. Life after a breakup, living apart from our families for the first time, even starting a new job. These experiences evoke an unsettling newness in our lives.

As college students, entering our twenties (or powering through them), life seems to be full of endings and beginnings. Frequently I catch my breath and wonder what my purpose is.  

A purpose, more than a Bieber melody, more than a pat on the back, is a reason to continue. With new beginnings come uncertainty and a lack of comfortability. However, the more we combat that beauty in that uncertainty, the harder it is to find our purpose. 

Heartbreak in our twenties teaches us what to expect out of real love.

Receiving a subpar grade on an unprepared for exam prepares us for the real-life meeting for which we procrastinated or weren’t prepared. 

That anxiety attack last week before in-class presentations. prepared you for that job interview you rocked yesterday.

The key here is optimism, and the desire to figure it out for yourself. I typically play the glass half full card, rather than half empty, but isn’t that the biggest part? Closing doors, and opening new ones is a commonality we cannot escape. Uncomfortable situations are always going to unfold. It’s the lesson — the new beginning that is truly important.

Growing up we are exposed to what someone else wants us to be exposed to, whether it be our parents, a babysitter, or grandparents. We are exposed to places that fit within someone else’s comfort zone.

For example, let’s think about politics. As a teenager, I recited the political beliefs of my elders. It wasn’t until my twenties when I realized political views change for everyone, and they don’t in fact have to line up with our elders’ beliefs. 

At a young age I was told someone’s always going to have more than you, and someone will always have less than you. Be grateful for what you do have. 

This applies to our feelings, too. There is always going to be someone who gets a better grade, someone in a more committed relationship, or someone who doesn’t have to endure the stress of breaking away from a societal norm. If you find yourself there, that bump in the road is only strengthening you. That’s the beauty of life. That’s the beauty of our twenties. 

Luckily, we are able to all come together in an institution not only to learn from our professors who’ve been there, but also our peers. We get to be part of a community where we can teach and learn from people in similar situations, people with the same stresses.

Our twenties are stressful; I typically find myself nearing a 2007 Britney moment, or wondering if I’m living a time warp, but like SZA said, “Good luck on them 20 somethings.”

Together we got this.

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