by Julien-Pierre Campbell
As I often do when I begin these articles, I sit at my laptop and just sort of stare. What to write about this month? I look back over my entries, smiling at some and grimacing at the clumsy writing in others. I’ll be the first to admit: I’m a little pretentious. My ramblings about mental health, my wordy diatribes on what to do post-college, my praise-singing of the cabaret I perform in — they all smack of the tortured academic who loves flowery language.
I’d posit something a little different, however. Reading through my entries over the past 6 months, I see a radical vulnerability that I can’t help but appreciate. It’s hard to say good things about oneself, but I’m going to try.
Student life is challenging and scary. Being vulnerable and open, especially on a platform that people read and can use to pass judgment, is also challenging and scary.
I reckon I’ll keep at it. If I’m not honest about the angst of student life, then I’m not being honest with myself. It’s not all rosy meals in the dining hall with your friends and studying with aesthetically-pleasing color-coded binders.
There’s a lot of crying at 3 a.m. over the latest confusion the honors college has thrown me. There’s a lot of spiraling about what I want to do post-college. There are money struggles and relationship struggles and mental health struggles. As much as I love life — and have chosen a patch of radical happiness — it’s pretty messy.
I think the media often portrays college a tad differently than reality. I know I had unrealistic expectations coming into school. This isn’t to say I haven’t had fun or made dear friends. College has been a whirl-wind of papers and parties, friends and finances — but it’s also a mixed bag. If we can’t be realistic about the good and the bad of student life, where does that leave us?
I don’t think vulnerability is a bad thing. I think it’s a scary thing, because it leaves you open to heartbreak and judgment, but it also opens avenues to much more love than I ever would have thought possible. It’s helped me learn to ask for help when I need it and to set clear boundaries that I didn’t previously have. It’s helped me reassess my priorities in school and my social life.
Vulnerability, especially at college age, is transformative, and I’m all for it.