By ERIK MEDINA
Being a first-gen college student, the pressure of succeeding and doing something with my future is at an all-time high.
Family members and peers look up to you and expect so much. Of course, this isn’t the case for every first-gen student. Not everyone has the same story.
There comes a time where you begin to succumb to that pressure and doubt yourself. There’s a constant cycle of whether you’re doing the right thing or if this is really what you want to do. I think a number of students can relate to this, though, not just first gens.
I will admit that I have fallen under this pressure numerous times. I wasn’t sure if the path I was taking was what I truly wanted to pursue. I changed my major and dabbled in different areas until I realized what I wanted to do.
I began with criminal justice, moved toward political science, spent some time in journalism and finally decided on English.
I won’t go too much into detail about my long-term goals, but I have a plan. I will say that I wouldn’t have gotten here without all of the grey areas I have had to move through in order to figure out what I really wanted to do. As well as experiencing the constant stress, anxiety and a lot of self-judgment.
I’ve seen too many of my peers beat themselves up and criticize themselves over not being good enough, that they don’t have what it takes to actually make it in their field of study and that the work that they are putting in is just a waste of time.
I want to tell those peers and even beyond that, the students that are going through this tough time of self-discovery, that it will be OK. Take a moment and breathe and understand that everything you’re doing will pay off. You are a college student working toward a better future. You can’t expect to have everything you desire halfway through it.
It’s also OK to take it steady. Don’t undermine yourself because you didn’t achieve what you wanted in the time frame the you had originally planned. Things happen, life happens. We all have things going on.
There’s work, family, health and a lot of other things that we cannot predict or control. If there is a time where those things do conflict with your education, know that it is OK to slow down – whether you decide to take a break or switch over to a part-time student. Do whatever it is that allows you to continue your education in a healthy manner.
Halfway through things like this, I always like to ask myself a question. For instance, why does my opinion sound like something you would find under “Motivational Quotes” on Pinterest?
At first, I thought I could make this a self-revelation that at the end I would be more confident with myself and that I would motivate me to keep persevering. In reality, I found out that it’s actually something that a lot of students need to hear.
College is this weird place and time where you discover things about yourself that you didn’t know before. You meet new people; your ideologies change. It truly is a learning experience. Yet, it also has this construct that you have to do it a certain way and in a certain amount of time. It has this sort of uniform way that everyone that decides to further their education must oblige by.
The things is that not everyone has the privilege to do that. Many individuals can’t put their life on hold for a few years to get a degree. For those who do, because they have the support, money or whatever it may be, be grateful.
To those that must manage to juggle college and other responsibilities. Know that it’s OK. Just remember to breathe; you’ve got this.