This I Believe

Megan - state college, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

“College is a buffet of vices. Only the strong survive.” I remember reading this quote my freshman year. It made me smile at the time, but three years later I’ve come to realize the truth behind it.

I believe in being an individual. I believe you should go through life knowing what kind of person you are and not letting anyone compromise that. Coming to college was a major turning point for me. It took everything I knew and turned it upside down… new state, new school, new friends, new home. I thought college would be a time to find out who I am, and what I want to do with my life. While that may be true, I’ve had an education here that happened outside the classroom.

I considered myself sheltered in high school. I was focused on school and never really went out or partied like other kids. While I was aware of drinking, drugs, and other vices, these all seemed very distant to me. That all changed when I came to college. My sense of self was tested, and I quickly learned that if you are impressionable at all, it is incredibly easy to go down the wrong path.

For me, the hardest pressure to avoid has nothing to do with alcohol, drugs, or sex, but of all things: food. I didn’t realize how many girls had eating and body image issues until I came to school. I remember going to the dining hall freshman year for dinner with the girls on my floor. As I ate, I listened to the conversation around me. “I can’t believe how much I’ve been eating lately. I’m so fat. I need to go the gym.” This was a common theme at dinner. These girls would talk about how fat they were, how much food they ate, and what diets they were trying. I found myself eating alone or at different times so they wouldn’t see how much food I took or what I was eating for fear of being judged.

This was the closest I ever got to falling into that trap, and I consider myself lucky. Instead of being broken down by dangerous habits and obsessions, I have used them to strengthen my self esteem. During my time here, I have continuously tried to surround myself with people that lift my spirits and share the same positive mindset that I possess.

Being in college is about making choices. No one is there to tell you what to do anymore, and what you choose in that moment is what really defines you. This environment has taught me that no matter where I go in life I will always have myself and that my experiences are shaped by what I make of them. Now, as a Junior, I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I know what I don’t what to be, and I’m learning that that’s just as important.