People come to college to prepare for the real world, to gain insight on how society works and, essentially, discover the keys to success. At least, that’s why I’m here at Lehigh — and of course to attend a few MoCos here and there. We are told that college is where your life starts. It’s the time to hunker down and stop playing pretend, because you’re a big kid now.
In that respect, you would think daily college life would mirror that of society. If there is anything that I have learned at university, it’s that these four years are meant for self-reflection, for me to grow and for me to learn.
But in real life – in this society – is it really all about me? Us as individuals… is that our only worry?
It was my only worry until my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mom requested an ultrasound aside from a routine mammogram and to her and her physicians surprise, the tiniest speck of cancer was spotted. The day she was diagnosed our lives changed forever and my make-believe bubble was popped.
Although we use textbooks to guide us through our studies, college life is fiction — it’s a fairy tale.
It is fictitious in the sense that there are more stories than your own. It is more than just the frat, more than your coursework and more than your GPA.
From the minute I wake up in the morning, until sorting out my evening plans, my days revolve around me. What I want. What I need.
It isn’t until I get off Snapchat to finally accept my mother’s FaceTime request that I realize this book — my book — is fiction. Since my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, we FaceTime every night. I make sure I tell her I love her before I go to bed, and she the same.
The week of her surgery I stopped everything. I put my book to the side — I focused on the facts. The fact that my mom was sick — I knew she was going to be OK — but fact is, she was sick.
I didn’t go to class. I didn’t do my work. For a whole week I layed by my mothers side till I knew she was OK, and I could once again leave reality and go back to my fiction.
What we as college students forget is that now, that paper, that rush event- it isn’t everything-its not even real. What’s real is taking a break from writing that paper to call someone outside of your college story, and make sure everything — what really matters — is OK.
That balance of self-awareness and awareness of the world outside of Lehigh is what makes college worthwhile. It’s those inkblots that fog our text, the issues we have to work around that shape us. Being able to write your story around those smudges is what makes your nursery rhyme fact and nonfiction.
I’m not trying to encourage throwing that paper out the window and mooning you professor. I’m just saying there is more to life than assignments and formals.
And I’m also not saying that college life isn’t important — because it is, just not as important as you think it is.
Unfortunately sometimes it takes tragedy to realize this. I didn’t realize it until my mom got sick — and I still sometimes forget until I get my nightly FaceTime. It’s not easy to stop playing pretend, just like reality is hard to face. Though every night I remove my imaginary tiara and do just that.
In this society — non-fiction that is — there is never one main character, yet a bunch of people that work together to help understand this endless encyclopedia.
The less college students work fight to be the protagonist, the more we will be able to deal with the tribulations of reality on our way to happily ever after. And entail we can make our fairy tales a reality.
Samantha Silverman, ’18, is an assistant lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]