Photo by David Taylor/ Sidelines Archive
Story by Bennie Hunt / Contributing Writer
If you’re anything like the average college student, your time is taken up by school, work and homework. There are other unspoken requirements that students are expected to complete as well such as research, community service and finding internships before we graduate with that all-important piece of cardstock worth four years of our lives, thousands of dollars and our sanity. So when our parents, guardians and friends tell us that we need to be “more involved” and make time for a “social life” hopefully we don’t offend them when we burst into laughter (or tears). I mean, students can barely find the time to eat and get an adequate amount of that alien notion referred to as “sleep.” How are we supposed to take the time to relax, enjoy life and meet people with similar interests?
Let me give you my experience as an example:
I started at MTSU as a transfer student last fall. After class one day I found myself wandering over to the Student Organization Fair, (SOF) thinking that this would be a great opportunity to see what activities outside of the classroom my new school had to offer. Before coming to MTSU my mother and father had encouraged me, as all good Catholic parents would, to join the campus ministry, MTSU Catholic. I arrived at the SOF therefore with a purpose, determined to find this group of like-minded people that would hopefully become a source of fun and social outreach for me. I found the table, talked with the nice guys who manned it, promised them that I would show up to the next meeting and even grabbed a couple of bumper stickers to make my membership official.
I never went.
No matter how much I tried convincing myself that I would go to their next meeting or event, no matter how many of their social media pages I followed, and no matter how miserable I became because I was stuck inside my apartment doing homework and studying, I failed to make the effort and follow through with my plans.
There were several reasons for this. For one thing, I had a picture in my head of what the other students would be like: conservative, strict, constantly praying evangelists who bordered on a freakish level of devotion to God and would make me feel like a less-than-worthy Catholic because I couldn’t keep up with their standards. I was also battling with some severe depression and anxiety, and convinced myself that my entire life needed to be consumed with studying. I didn’t have the time to be social.
Not going to MTSU Catholic, or getting involved in any way with campus life for that matter, ended up being one of the worst decisions I had ever made as a college student. I spent much of my junior year lonely and wishing that I was back home in Knoxville. Had it not been for my roommates, the support of my family and friends and the desire to complete my degree, I would have left MTSU and never looked back.
I told myself that at the start of the new school year I would force myself to go to at least one MTSU Catholic meeting, ignoring the little voice inside of me saying that I was too busy or that I would have a miserable time. It took a couple of weeks, but when I finally decided to go it changed my life. I found a community where I belonged with people who shared so many of my interests, beliefs and values. I didn’t have to worry about having enough time to study because we study together. I no longer felt lonely because I get daily texts from my new friends wondering how I am or asking if I want to get together to go mini golfing. And as far as their “freakish” devotion to God, yes, we pray, yes, we go to church, but we don’t kneel in front of a crucifix chanting hymns while throwing holy water everywhere.
For all of those who find themselves where I was a year ago, I encourage you to branch out. I’m an introvert, so I know the strength that’s required to go somewhere other than your bedroom doing other things than watching Netflix at the end of a long school or work day. Our ocean of a world is a vast expanse of unfamiliarity and new experiences that can very quickly become overwhelming. But instead of diving straight in, why not try simply dipping a toe into the water? Take a chance and try something new. Go to that photography club meeting if taking pictures is something that brings you joy. Try signing up for an intramural sport. If you enjoy writing, editing, making videos or all of the above, become a writer for our student newspaper *cough* *cough*. The point is to try.
Who knows? You might find yourself having a bit of fun.
This is an opinion, written from the perspective of the writer and does not reflect the views of Sidelines or MTSU.
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To contact Editor-in-Chief Sarah Grace Taylor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.