The college experience is one that often evokes thoughts of bustling social activities, long hours of studying, and freedom from the chains of high school. However, it is so much more than just a big bubble of socialization and education. The challenges faced by college students— freshmen and seniors alike— are often glossed over in the grand “college years” stories.
The transition into college is not one that can be prepared for— sans remembering to pack a lucky shirt or figuring out where your classes meet. The grey area of this transition is then where the dialectical perspective steps in. The ability to use DBT skills at the dawn of adulthood can set the course for a smoother, more mindful college experience that validates both the good and the challenging.
Radical acceptance— the notion that one can accept a situation or emotion for what it is — is a core skill for the college transition (plus, it’s easy to implement for the every day stressed out college kid).
I just stumbled out of my first year of college. Stumbled, because of the many obstacles that the pandemic wedged into the year. With or without the pandemic, radical acceptance opens the mind to the difficulties of the present and assesses them rather than smothering them and creating larger problems in the long run.
College, especially the transition, can be lonely, daunting, overwhelming, and basically every other emotion under the sun. In order to implement radical acceptance, we change the “everything is fine” (when it really, really is not) and the “If I get , then my problems will finally go away” to the “this is a challenge for me, and that’s okay”. This act of self-validation is so powerful as it shifts the mindset completely from giving up to accepting challenges and building stamina to face problems head-on.
Being a college student, the art of procrastination is one that I’ve mastered beautifully. Since practicing radical acceptance, (“I have a long to do list today”, “this assignment is taking a lot of energy from me”…) I am able to be mindful of the good and the ugly so that I don’t throw my computer when minor challenges arise. Radical acceptance can be practiced in all situations, and allows for the self to enter wise mind amidst a chaotic environment.
The transition to college, nay, adulthood, is a big ‘ol slap in the face. Nothing can fully prepare you for the slap, so instead of backing away from it, acknowledge the sensations that accompany it.