Patel: Embrace change as a part of the college experience


Meera Patel, Columnist

As young adults, we deal with change on a regular basis. The four years we’re spending on getting our bachelor’s degrees at Northwestern are jam-packed with all sorts of life experiences. For many of us, going to college in the first place was the first time living away from home for such an extended period of time. Many develop friendships closer than those they’ve had before just by the nature of living with people their own age and spending most of their time together. We move every year, vary roommates or combine roommates to get our own off-campus housing. We join organizations that we never thought we’d be a part of and try new things on a whim. And then when it comes time to graduate, we have to face the prospect of working and starting our lives post-graduation. We remember the transition to college and think it was nothing compared to the change that’s ahead of us.

I used to have a very difficult time reconciling myself with change. I felt out of control of my own life because everything kept shifting without me asking it to.

I’m getting ready to graduate in June, which means there’s a huge transition ahead of me. I spent a lot of Fall Quarter stressing out about what was going to happen, what could happen and what I could do to make sure nothing bad occurred.

But then there were several major shifts in my personal life. I changed my friend group completely, I’m not in a relationship and I ended my involvement in several student groups that were a big part of my life in the past. Most of these changes that were affecting my life weren’t of my own choice necessarily, and they easily could have been hard for me to accept.

Surprisingly, they weren’t. And I know exactly why.

Four years ago, it was important to me that my socks matched. I meticulously folded my laundry and made sure the color of my socks matched the rest of my outfit every day. Now, I don’t care if my socks match at all, as long as I have two socks that cover my feet. I don’t see the point of wasting time on something that no one will see, as long as I’m comfortable. My approach to life has changed, just as many other students’ perspectives change during their undergraduate years.

Relationship problems often come from people adjusting their viewpoints on life and realizing that they are no longer compatible. This goes for any type of relationship, romantic or otherwise. It can be hard to let go of past friendships or go through a breakup because you don’t want to let go of something that feels familiar and was alluring in the past. But just because something worked once, doesn’t mean it always will. It takes two to tango, and if you have changed so much that you don’t want to tango anymore, that’s your choice and you are entitled to it. If others make that choice, they are entitled to theirs. Regardless, you are going to remain a part of your own life, and people are going to come and go. As long as you know yourself and love being you, you can take whatever changes life decides to throw at you and make them your own. You can’t control life; you can only control how you react to what it throws at you.

It’s OK to make mistakes when dealing with changes. That’s part of the learning curve. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have the chance to try your hand at something new, whether it’s a new relationship or a new hobby. College, especially senior year, is a transitionary period between life as a student and life as a working adult. It’s the time we have to figure out who we were in the past and who we want to be in the future and the time to determine how we make that change for ourselves.

Now my outlook on graduation has shifted. I’ve finally understood how important and exciting change is. If life wasn’t changing constantly, we’d be bored out of our minds. I love the chance to start over, to make whatever comes next a part of my present and then my past. The future is full of change, and it’s worth embracing.

Meera Patel is a McCormick senior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].