Opinion: College is not a Contest

After the stress and torture of finals, there is nothing better than spending time in our hometowns. College students finally get the chance to relax, soak up the sun and swap stories about how much better our time at school was than our friends’. We are guaranteed to participate in anywhere from 1 to 500 conversations that begin with, “OMG this one time at school…” every time that we return home after months away. These encounters begin almost without a conscious thought, but why do we let them? It is impossible to prove that our time at school was genuinely more enjoyable than our friends’ time at their respective schools, so why do we keep trying? Story topping, humble bragging and exaggerating don’t actually make us more interesting, so why bother? Freshmen are typically the worst offenders in the crime of story topping, because the entire college experience is so new and exciting. In order to ensure that their college life is greater than or equal to the college experiences of their friends, freshmen over utilize the first winter break and the following summer to recount college adventures in excruciating detail. From my freshmen year, I genuinely cannot remember a conversation with friends from home that didn’t revolve around my experiences or involve my half-listening to other peoples’ stories until I could tell my own. Sure, I may be self-absorbed, but I really don’t think that I am alone in this situation. We don’t just want to tell our stories. We want to make sure that we are “doing college right” and having as wonderful an experience as everyone tells us we should.

GIF courtesy of holaakande / Tumblr

There is no exact reason or obvious motive, but I think that a lot of the lies, half truths and exaggerations we tell stem primarily from our own insecurities. If the pseudo-friend that always made us “sorta-kinda jealous” details her amazing times with her fabulous friends, it’s no surprise that we feel the urge to top her stories. The thing is, that “friend”, who serves no other purpose than to make us feel poorly about ourselves, isn’t somebody that we need in our lives. Not to mention, becoming a narcissist in order to put her down will only drive away real friends. It is natural to grow apart from some of the people we went to high school with. But if everyone is suddenly rushing for the door, there may be another factor at hand. Constantly raving about our college experiences not only gets annoying, but also seems unnecessarily competitive. I don’t care if your school has a really cool dance that raises a lot of money and you went to it one time and it changed you life. Like, no… it didn’t. You’re still drinking the same beer you stole from your parents in high school and trash talking your “best friend”, so I’m not buying what you’re selling.

GIF courtesy of insearchofthemundane / Tumblr

I think that we all lose sight of the people that are important to us when we get wrapped up in our own experiences and problems. Instead of talking about ourselves every time we are with our high school friends or family, we should spend the short time that we have at home enjoying the company of those we love. The more self-absorbed we allow ourselves to become, the further away we will drive the people who stuck by our sides through puberty. That’s love. Don’t forget it.