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The weekend before classes started I went to the J. Cole concert in Austin and I’m not sure if it was the music or the fruity scents in the air, but needless to say everyone in attendance was feeling some type of way. During his set he stopped to talk to the audience and one thing he said really made me reflect on my actions and the decisions I’ve made in my adult life thus far. He said, “People everywhere are suffering from a small town mentality.” That seems like such a simple statement but he wasn’t just talking about the cliché small town person being bored of the little their town has to offer. He was saying that people are often times afraid to leave home and/or experience something new and those who do are seldom ever satisfied because they have unrealistic expectations.
When I really thought about that statement I realized there were a lot of opportunities and good times I had been missing out on because I was suffering from this so called small town mentality. Upon my initial arrival to Texas State two years ago I had the stereotypical mentality that I was going to leave my hometown and do all these incredible things I only ever saw on TV and Instagram. I entered my freshman year determined to make new friends, go to wild parties, start dating, etc. As the year went on I slowly came to realize the reality of those situations almost never lived up to what I had imagined them to be based on movies and social media. I also realized that people…give me anxiety. Close friends I had made quickly turned into enemies, which made situations where we had to be in the same room tense and awkward. Parties were not actually enjoyable due to my then lacking social skills and negative body image and as for dating, lets just say I never plan on using Ok Cupid again.
All of these experiences stayed on replay in the back of my mind and eventually forced me to become a minor recluse. There was a semester when the only time I left my dorm room was to get enough meal trades to last me a day and then recede back to my safety zone. I had a close group of friends, but while they all had lives they weren’t afraid to live, I was becoming more fearful of anything that didn’t resemble my home life. I had gone full circle in the idea of having a small town mentality. It took me going home for the summer and finding the home I was accustomed to no longer existed to actually take charge of my life and start living it. Not the way the media tells me to or the way I did before, letting others opinions of me dictate my every move, but the way I wanted to.
Unfortunately I see a lot of students go through this when they first get to college. They arrive for fall semester fresh faced and ready for anything then, come spring a lot of them go back home because it wasn’t what they thought it would be or it was too much to handle on top of going to class full time. The excitement of a new town, new people, new responsibilities can be mentally overwhelming and finding the time to take a breath and process it all can be even more difficult but never be afraid to take a step back and give yourself a reality check. Not every person you meet is going to be your new best friend although some will be lifers. Some parties are going to suck and others you’ll remember for the rest of your life. There will always be annoying couples in the quad but, don’t be salty, your time will come. Your college experience is what you make of it so don’t let the small town mentality struggle get the best of you. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a super senior, there is always time to take back control and make your college experience the best years of your life.