At some point in the semester you’ll probably end up asking yourself: “Why am I doing all this?” I’m going to assume that your answer will in some way relate to a goal of lifelong happiness. If this is not your reasoning, then I ask that you reflect more deeply on what happiness really means to you.
For most of your life you’ve been fed an idea from your family, friends and other role models of what happiness is. But now, your time in college, is the time to discover what truly makes you happy. It’s unfortunate, but life will only get more stressful from here on out, and the best way to find relief from the chaos is to participate in activities that bring you joy.
Think of the effect of celebrating someone’s birthday rather than treating it as another day. Birthdays would be pretty miserable if they were entirely about coming to terms with your expiration date. But rather than dwell on what is a pretty stressful topic, we do something joyful to alleviate the stress.
Sometimes, though, we make the wrong decisions when it comes to these forms of stress relief. What happens, then, when the party thrown for us is a rager we wouldn’t rather be at? What if this activity is no longer about us and more about satisfying others and their expectations?
There is often a moment where we realize our distractions or goals aren’t what they should’ve been. When we think of success in the future, we’re still searching for distractions, albeit more expensive ones. We think about money, fancy cars, luxurious clothes, a large home that separates you from the rest of the world as our goals post-college, when we will supposedly have money.
Even now, in our college lives, we base our own ideas of off others.’ We drink inexpensive alcohol from morning to dawn until we’re numb. We do an assortment of drugs that leave our minds and bodies a mess. We do a little bit of both on the weekends, and then pull all-nighters three out of five days through the academic week.
These all seem to just be scapegoats covering up the presence of unhappiness. This doesn’t sound like joy. More like a dead end on your life-path. You shouldn’t have to settle for being miserable on what is, at the end of the day, your journey and nobody else’s.
There are a lot of challenges that you will encounter during your time at Case Western Reserve University, and they will only accentuate the regular stress of life. But this doesn’t justify a false idea of happiness that is only really significant to the person that sold it to you. There’s more to life than feeding into the distractions that others have offered to you.
CWRU isn’t perfect and neither is life in general, but living is finding happiness through the dark times of life. I challenge you to find what truly makes you happy, and not to settle for someone else’s idea.
Anthony Nunnery is a first-year student, currently undecided.