If you take a chance to ask your professors about their college experience, many will tell you that it was the best time of their lives. In most cases, I don’t think the professors accredit this to classes or the hard work put forth to make it through college, because no one is that sadistic.
Experiences like going on a food run with peers while pulling an all-nighter, spending the night conversing about both trivial and abstract aspects of life or even having a professor that you always count on for a conversation are little things that make the college experience golden. These experiences don’t come easy, but they’re also not planned out strategically. If you put yourself out there, they just happen.
Strong relationships are built on Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) while superficial ones are built on Conditional Positive Regard (CPR).
Unconditional positive regard is when a person accepts you all-in-all through the high and low times of a relationship. For instance, my mom and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything and as a result sometimes get into fights. Looking back, most of our fights start because we care for each other, and then end for the same reason.
No matter how much we fight, my mom and I will always love and be there for each other through anything because our relationship is built on unconditional positive regard. I learned in a psychology class that UPR is common to come from parents, and not so much from others. Commonly we stay at the CPR level because it’s requires no effort, no pushing of boundaries, no investment.
CPR, on the other hand, can be thought of as as someone thinking positively of you based on you meeting their standards for acceptance.
I believe it is extremely worthwhile to go the extra mile for a relationship based on unconditional acceptance. From orientation week, I had no idea what crazy adventures I’d go on with the friends I’ve made here. During orientation week we met tons of people, put on tons of smiles, made tons of offers to hangout and so on, always with the goal of making a good impression.
That first week felt like selling myself short of my character’s worth just to meet the standard of a good impression, which often led to a sickening feeling of disgust when I looked in the mirror at the end of the day. I really didn’t see myself making any UPR type bonds—real friends—from how this year started. After being broken down by my first semester of classes (three weeks in), I lost the energy to put on facades, and was left presenting myself as who I naturally am.
Once I did this, I was pleased to see that people accepted me with all my quirks, murmurs, outbursts, spirit, unusually corny sense of humor and anything else that I embody when in their presence. Meeting these friends has honestly been the best thing to happen to me at Case Western Reserve University.
My experiences here have been exciting, unique and special because of these folks. Life is a random assortment of chaotic bliss in most cases, so embrace it. Find those people that’ll stick with you through the uncertainties of life, because it’s a long ride where good company should be always be welcomed. It’s common to start relationships with conditional positive regard, but the tradeoff of pursuing a relationship built upon unconditional positive regard will make life more interesting in the long run so have it in mind more often.
Anthony Nunnery is a first-year student currently undecided. I’m probably running on three hours of sleep right now; three is better than two, though.