Baggy jeans from the 90s, hot pink tracksuits and socks with sandals. There are many cringeworthy sins that you can commit in college that may result in you living out your college life as a social pariah.
Yes, college can be hard for the unfashionable. But there are some mistakes that are even more serious than these fashion faux pas, some of which you may not even realise you’re wearing day in day out.
Here are 5 things you should stop wearing in college.
#1. The weight of other people’s expectations
As Asians, we are heavily influenced by our surrounding community. We worry whether others will like us and if we’ll fit in, we agonise over our physical appearance and more prevalently, we stress over whether we’ve lived up to our parents’ expectations and made them proud.
Don’t get us wrong – expectations aren’t all bad. They challenge you to maximise your potential, pushing you to reach farther than you ever imagined you could.
But the struggle comes when ideals and reality do not match up. In fact, studies show that an increasing number of students have high levels of anxiety and depression, with pressure from parents to excel academically as one of the contributing factors.
Look inward and take some time to understand yourself. Are you pursuing a course that is a choice of your own and not of your parents or peers? Are you living your life authentically? Once you stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations and learn to trust your inner voice, you will be in a position to make better life choices that can propel you forward.
#2. Your sense of entitlement and narcissism
As a generation that grew up with overprotective parents, on-demand streaming and excessive amounts of social media, it is no surprise that many deem millennials as the ‘Me Generation’: entitled, shallow, overconfident and narcissistic.
And there’s data to back it up. Studies show that narcissistic personality traits have increased among college students, with a growing number of students relating to statements like “I like to look at myself in the mirror” and “I insist upon getting the respect that is due me”. While the study is limited to the US, a study closer to home that uses the same Narcissistic Personality Inventory suggests that we Malaysians are equally as narcissistic as our American counterparts.
This new trend of self-love and self-centeredness may not be good for society, given that narcissists tend to lack empathy, overreact to criticism and crave for affirmation and praise.
Don’t fall into that millennial stereotype. Whether it’s a full scholarship for your studies, a first class honour or a high-paying job, don’t expect things to be handed to you on a silver platter. The world does not owe you anything. Work hard, be hungry and go that extra mile.
#3. Your Instagram filters
Are you someone who spends hours upon hours choreographing, snapping and editing dozens of photos, trying to capture a moment for that perfect Instagram post?
We don’t blame you. After all, we now live in a world that’s progressively becoming obsessed with photographing every micro-moment of our lives. Every breathtaking sunset in the sky, every pair of relaxing feet on the beach, every cup of hot aromatic coffee – they all need to be captured, captioned and tagged. Pictures or it didn’t happen, as they say.
The trouble is this – when you put a screen between you and life, you miss out on experiencing life’s fleeting moments, not to mention that it can ruin your memory of what actually happened.
Stop getting so caught up with creating a story that you forget to live it. Put down the phone for a second, embrace every unfiltered minute of college and truly savour the moment.
Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. – David McCullough Jr.
#4. Your fear of missing out
It’s Friday night and you’ve been invited to a party. You know you desperately have to work on your assignment, but you can’t help but feel that you need to go, even though you don’t really want to. It’ll be social suicide if you don’t. Plus, what if you meet the man of your dreams?
This fear of missing out, or more popularly known as FOMO, has become a prevalent phenomenon. Being perpetually connected to social media means that you’re always in the know of how your friends are doing. Reels of thrilling vacations in Europe, cool parties on rooftop bars and enviable internships and job offers all flash in front of you, making you feel like you’re missing a piece of the jigsaw if you don’t walk in the same footsteps.
What many don’t realise too is that FOMO can cause social anxiety, which is a disorder that affects 13% of the population. Letting it spiral out of control can result in more serious issues, including depression (that may lead to suicide) and substance abuse.
Be willing to let go of some things because it’s impossible to have it all. Slow down, devote yourself to experiences that you genuinely find rewarding and be grateful for what you have.
#5. Your overdependence on your parents
Have you always allowed your parents to meticulously arrange every turn and fold of your journey ahead, so much that you find yourself differing to them for every decision?
Well, there is no better time than college to establish your legs of independence.
We’re not just talking about the big things like what degree to study and what jobs to apply for. We’re talking about the little things, like doing your own laundry instead of lugging suitcases of dirty clothes home for your mother to clean. Or taking up a part-time job to learn the value of money. And not bringing your parents to job interviews, no matter how trendy it may seem to be.
If your parents are having a hard time letting go, have an open and honest conversation with them. This is your time to forge your own path. Be thankful for the support that you have, but don’t let your parents be the ones to solve your problems all the time.
College can be a huge transition from secondary school as you work to cement your own identity and find your footing in this world. Quitting these bad habits can help you lead a more rewarding and fulfilling college experience – one that’s more grounded in reality and isn’t burdened by deep-seated expectations, fear and pressure.