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Smell the roses and drop some chainsaws

By Christian Stewart
May 01, 2017

While wallowing in self-pity due to finals, a lack of money or a self-imposed lack of sleep, college students often forget to enjoy the moment. Whether they choose to admit it or not, the position of college students is often romanticized and even envied in the western world. A university is the very embodiment of the ideals that our culture so desperately clings to: youth, intellectualism, fast living, freedom and blatant hedonism. Ask any old geezer for stories about his glory days and I’ll bet you his dentures that he’s going to reminisce about his time in the good ol’ halls of ivy. College is a place of self-discovery and limitless opportunity, so why are there so many college students whining about college life? Oh, it makes sense though, this once in a lifetime journey of metanoia is hard to enjoy when the cafeteria food is bland and the Wi-Fi is bad.

Contrary to what the bouncer says, once you hit 18, you’re not suddenly an adult. A lot of critical maturation occurs between your late teens and early twenties, college is the best place to undergo that change. It’s a time in life when you get to focus almost exclusively on self-development, and after years of parental indoctrination, you probably need it. You see, college years mark that sweet spot between newfound autonomy and not having a bawling baby clinging to your ankles. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of lifelong contractual obligations just waiting to latch you down into 9-to-5 stagnancy. In the meantime, use your fleeting window of freedom to figure yourself out.

The Action Pact improv team poses after its final show of the Fall 2017 semester. Action Pact is a collection of MNU students who perform for the campus, temporarily shedding more weighty (and less-fun) requirements for practice and performances. Photo by Alexandria Bonar.The Action Pact improv team poses after its final show of the Fall 2017 semester. Action Pact is a collection of MNU students who perform for the campus, temporarily shedding more weighty (and less-fun) requirements for practice and performances. Photo by Alexandria Bonar.

College students are worry-holics, and who can blame them? College can be a stressful environment. Making enough money to continue attending, keeping up with assignments and somehow managing a social life is a rigorous flaming-chainsaw juggling act. What makes it even more difficult is the rotten fruit that your fragile maturing psyche throws at you when the chainsaws just keep coming; it’s demoralizing. It’s enough to make a person curl up on the couch and binge-watch nine seasons of “Friends” in a feeble attempt to numb reality.

But escapism doesn’t work, and worry solves nothing. College isn’t just about the degree that hangs like an exit sign at the end of the road. The true development comes from the experiences you encounter while you make the journey. Growth isn’t comfortable, but what makes it better is being knowledgeable of the growth that’s occurring. You’re undergoing a refining process, which means there’s going to be heat. Remember that old, devoid-of-empathy line that your dad used to pitch you when things got rough? It builds character.

Realistically, the details you spent so much time worrying over will just work themselves out. Getting a D in a class doesn’t stand for “doomed to failure,” you don’t need to be the most popular person on campus and who cares if you go into a little debt? Life is messy.

You’ve got to drop a few flaming chainsaws on your feet before you learn how to juggle them all. So take a deep breath of Axe-infused dorm air and just enjoy it. Soak up every bit of college like a sponge, because there’s never going to be a better opportunity for you to invest in yourself. Pull a few all-nighters, skip a few classes, have a few flings. Just focus on completing the picture and enjoying it and don’t break your neck trying to color inside the lines.

Christian Stewart

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Christian Stewart is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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