Staying Afloat

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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It's not always "sink or swim!"


So, not to be that person, but college has pretty much been the best part of my life. However, it’s not for the reasons you might think. Within my first year, I got dumped, rejected from my dream school where I applied as a transfer, and had a complete crisis concerning my future. And I was supposed to deal with this while figuring out bus routes, frat parties, and shared bathrooms? Yeah, no thanks. I don’t think this whole autonomy thing is for me after all.

At least, that’s how I felt at first. I think we’re all faced with a choice when we’re thrown into adulthood: sink or swim. At first, it feels easier to sink. I was stuck miles away from the only home I had ever known and struggling through things that I’d never had to deal with on my own. It was so tempting to let go, to settle comfortably into resignation. But that was until I realized that the solitude wasn’t suffocating. It was freeing. I wasn’t helpless without those things I had always depended on; in fact, I was more in control than I had ever been before. Away from the influences, I had known all my life, those of teachers, parents, and friends, I was finally able to ask myself what I wanted.

And what I wanted, I realized, looked a lot different than what I was doing. So, I changed my major, pretty dramatically. I changed my goals, I made a plan, and I stopped pursuing things that I didn’t love. In other words, I started to swim. And this wasn’t easy-- it takes some guts to really listen to yourself. You realize that you can be the cause of your wildest successes, but also be held accountable for your failures. So, you can continue to fear responsibility, as I did at first, or you can embrace it. And the latter option, I have found, is enlightening, empowering, and above all, has made me happy. When you choose to take control of your life, choosing happiness comes intuitively. Now, I know that all sounds a bit lofty, but I promise you, it’s simpler than you think. The transition to college naturally introduces a degree of independence that you may not have gotten the chance to experiment with before. It comes with a lot of crappy stuff -- lots of worrying about rent and careers and scholarships -- but it comes with a lot of the good stuff I’ve talked about too if you open yourself up to it.

And the other stuff, the devastating, stressful stuff -- it didn't become background noise. It was still devastating. But, I could see the other side. And with my new perspective, I realized that I had the power to make that other side better than this one ever had been.

Now, I’m not super equipped to be providing self-help. I’m still figuring this out day by day. But it’s amazing how much a change in my outlook has helped me move forward, even when countless other things are dragging me back. So take some time to listen to yourself, undiluted by outside opinions. Figure out what you want. And choose it, every time.


Izzy Taylor
Michigan State University

Izzy is a sophomore at Michigan State University studying philosophy and political science. As you can tell, she has a passion for those disciplines guaranteed to make prospective employers toss out her resume immediately. She somehow snagged a Student Ambassador gig at Macmillan Learning anyway. She is an avid consumer of vintage clothing and 80's music and has never met a cat she didn't love.