Editorial: what i wish i knew going into third year

Julia Dursztman '19

Firstly, congratulations to myself for making it to my third year of college. I have completed the drama and excitement of first year; the discovery of my place at Grinnell. I have learned how to communicate with professors and how to in general function at a college level. I have made it through the honeymoon phase of second-year; the time during which everything is familiar and I have already made my friends but everything is still new enough to feel magical. I have gone through the completion of the honeymoon phase of second-year during which everything crashes down and you realize that this is college and shit is hard.

Then comes third year; a time when a new reality begins to set in. I am one of few Grinnellians who decide not to study abroad during third year, and this fact is guaranteed to award me some confused looks and intrusive questions.

“Why didn’t you want to study abroad?” “Was it about money?” “Aren’t you going to be so lonely when everyone is gone?”

I feel confident about my decision to not go abroad and usually try to ignore these questions as often as they come. I am a double major and I intend to do a MAP during the school year and I also want to enjoy my time at Grinnell while I have it. I do not have the same yearning to go and travel as so many of my peers do, which is OKAY. It does not mean that I am uncultured or that I am scared of leaving my comfort zone. All it means is that I feel like I am where I need to be at this point in my life.

Now, even though I feel confident about my decision and am enjoying the growth I am experiencing during my third year so far, I still feel the weirdness and loneliness of being a third-year. Many of the familiar faces I have grown accustomed to seeing on a daily basis are over seas and in different time zones. Half the current student body consists of new young faces, and I no longer feel settled. Part of me feels as though I have started all over again at a new school as a first-year.

The most important thing I wish I knew going into third-year is that it is okay for friends to change. Two years may not feel like a long time but so much growth occurs over the course of first and second year that it seems almost inevitable that friendships will evolve and grow or end. I never thought that during my third year of college I would be joining new clubs and teams and devoting my time to hanging out with new people, but that is exactly has happened, and I kind of like it.

Schools like Grinnell fetishize the “friend-group,” and specifically the, “female friend-group,” in a way that is toxic. Social circles I have been around since first-year have put an immense amount of pressure on being in a defined friend-group, to the point of creating names for certain groups of people in order to create a culture of exclusivity. Making the decision to distance myself from that culture has involved a great deal of growing pain, however, I am absolutely sure that I am better off because of it. I no longer feel like I have to prove something to keep my friends or like my friendships exist as a result of sheer convenience.

The remainder of my time at Grinnell will be spent surrounded by people who encourage a culture of inclusivity and not of competition. In my remaining two years, my friendships may continue to change but those will be changes I will be prepared to accept.