You don't have to live the 'student life'

A group of girls dance while holding beer bottles.
Photo: Pexels

As a teenager, the only thing you can think about is growing up — well, at least that's what I did. I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and experience everything I saw in the movies: partying until sunrise, drinking, going out... In sum, having all the fun. When I finally turned 18 and became a legal adult, the only thing I could think of was "this is not what I wanted". All the spark was gone and adulthood had lost its appeal. Now, as a university student, I feel guilty for not wanting to live the so-called “student life”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

I have always been a person that enjoys her time alone. I love reading a good book and watching a great show. My time alone has become a way of not losing myself in the crowd. However, as a 19-year-old, I feel guilty every day for not doing something more… "student-like". It looked like most students around me were having the time of their lives and I truly wished I could do it too. I started to genuinely question whether there was something wrong with me.

At first, I tried to force myself to go out and attend all the parties but that only made things worse. Much worse. I felt repulsed by it like I was torturing myself to fit into a stereotype. So, I gave up. I assumed I would never gain that spark again. Only when I came to Utrecht, I realized that every person is different and it’s okay to do what you feel the most comfortable with.

This city truly gives you the opportunity to meet new people every day, with different hobbies and attitudes, different cultures and behaviours. After talking to my friends, I finally stopped thinking I was crazy. I met people like me that enjoy staying home and playing board games, cooking, or just resting from a stressful study routine. They reassured me that there was nothing to be ashamed of as nothing is mandatory. Each person is free to enjoy different things.

What I was most scared of was disappointing my future self. I was scared that, in 20 years time, I would look back at my pictures and think that I wasted my best years. I didn’t want to regret anything because every single day is once in a lifetime. However, what is more important – looking like you’re having fun or feeling genuinely happy? I chose to take care of my present self, rather than my future self, and I don’t regret a single thing.

I do enjoy going out sometimes but I only do it when I’m in the mood to do so. I’m not scared to turn down an offer only to go home and watch a movie I have seen a hundred times. I'm not forcing anything, I'm just doing what feels right. Our life is just starting out and we still have lots of time to enact all of those movie scenes.