The Single Phrase to Tell Yourself Every Day
“These are the best four years of your life.”
If you’re in college, you’ve almost certainly had someone say that to you at some point during your undergraduate career. You’re usually probably happy to hear it. After all, college is mostly a good time. You get to be independent, meet your lifelong friends, and find out who you are.
However, there are other times when hearing that phrase can be frustrating. It’s almost like a mantra that is fed to college students religiously, irrespective of the situation. Decided not to go to a party because you weren’t feeling it? Well you should have gone, because you’re missing out on the best four years of your life. Failed your final? Get over it; you’ll regret wasting the best four years of your life moping. Genuinely unhappy because of the combined stress of trying to do well in classes, maintain your relationships, and get enough sleep? Well, you just need to relax and stop thinking so much, because these are the best four years of your life and you won’t get them back.
It’s meant to be encouraging, but often this phrase overlooks the unique set of challenges faced by college students. When you’re falling behind in all your classes because you’re dealing with personal issues, or you’re constantly studying because admission into your major is hyper-competitive, or you’re vying for employment in an increasingly brutal job market, it’s hard to feel like this is the best time of your life.
COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation. While the positives of college have all but disappeared, the negatives have established themselves even more prominently. No longer can you hang out somewhere random after class, go to parties on the weekend, or binge watch Black Mirror with your closest friends in a cozy apartment. Many of you might not even be on campus. Meanwhile, grades still exist and the job market is getting worse.
In the midst of all this, you certainly don’t want to be told “Cheer up — these are the best four years of your life.” Maybe your grades are suffering because online learning doesn’t work for you. Maybe you are having a hard time adjusting to living at home again. Maybe you just don’t feel good and you don’t know why (by the way, it’s perfectly fine to feel that way — in case you needed to hear that). Whatever it might be, you need to hear something else. You need a new mantra. I have one for you.
You are good enough.
Failed a required major course? Well, you’re still good enough. Can’t get a job? You’re still good enough. Feel like a terrible person? Your friendships are falling apart? Don’t feel like getting out of bed? All of these things and more? You. Are. Still. Good. Enough.
I believe it, and I need you to believe it too. So go find a mirror, and stand in front of it. Take yourself in. Let everything flow — your pain, your anger, your frustrations, your complaints, and your despair. Really let yourself feel all of it. Accept that maybe this isn’t the best time of your life, and that is okay. Look at yourself. Look yourself in the eyes. Look at the broken person staring back at you and realize he is still whole. Then say it, and really hear it.
“You are good enough.”