Today marks the beginning of the rest of your life. You walk down the aisle and the smiling faces of parents and loved ones circle you. Applause envelops you. You might even be crying. You made it this far, and that’s worth all the emotion. You’ve even earned a certificate to prove how far you’ve come. After four long years, you graduated from Rider.
This is the emotional ending that all of us college students should be building toward. For many, however, there is another goal in sight, one that ends with rings and lifelong commitments.
There’s so much stress on college students when balancing our personal lives and romantic relationships. Half of those we encounter tell us to be wild and free. Enjoy the best years of your life and date around. But the other half of people tell us to look for our soulmate, the person who fills our minds and makes our hearts flutter in that completely realistic, stereotypical romance-novel way. It’s almost impossible to decide which way to walk when both paths twist in ways radically different from each other.
But maybe that’s why it’s better to take neither of those paths.
We’re all paying thousands of dollars to attend Rider, not to look for relationships or quick hookups. We’re here to earn degrees, get valuable educations and start the long, sometimes difficult march toward the rest of our lives. We’re here to build our foundations. Romance is a supplement to our college careers, and sadly, additives are not meant to be foundations.
At around 18 to 22 years old, a wedding ceremony shouldn’t even be on our radars yet, much less dominating our college careers to the exclusion of our studies.
USA Today reports about 28 percent of married couples went to the same college as their spouses. In the grand scheme of things, that number is not necessarily one to be scoffed at, but it certainly isn’t astronomical. So then, why are 63 percent of women hoping to meet their spouses at school? Unfortunately, many of them are going to find themselves sorely disappointed.
And with one in four college students plagued with an STD, according to the University of Cincinnati, I’m not really sure if our “hook-up culture” should be overly embraced either. I’m not one to tell anyone how to live their lives or not to have fun, but safety becomes a huge issue. Our society pushes us to live entirely in the moment and not think about the consequences, but when the consequences can damage your health or the health of others, it just may not be worth it.
Millennials are currently living in a strange society that is pushing and pulling us between two extremes. But that’s why we should just do what we came here for.
It makes me sad to see students more obsessed with their Tinder accounts than their textbooks. It hurts when couples are more immersed in each other than the materials their professors put in front of them. And nothing angers me more than watching significant others cause my friends more stress than midterms.
And this isn’t meant to step on college couples, or smash their hearts, because I’m bitter or angry. I’m in a long-term relationship, as I have been for years. And I think it’s a beautiful thing to want to be with someone, whether that means being with him or her for one or two dates or the rest of your life. Love is beautiful, so don’t evade it.
But don’t let this young, inexperienced kind of love dominate your life either. Our entire lives are starting to sprawl out in front of us and we need to be ready to walk. This is the time to focus on taking that walk. And remember, these are long paths with so many destinations along the way. Who knows what beautiful people or wonderful spirits we will meet as we walk through these paths?
Society isn’t what it was years ago. Fewer couples are getting married and fewer are having children. We’re evolving into a culture that tells us that it’s OK to prefer careers or ambitions or wanderlust. As more individuals are adopting these mentalities, I encourage young, lovesick Rider students to do the same. It’s OK to not be in or want a relationship. It’s OK to not want commitment at this point. And it’s OK to want a different future for yourself.
For now, enjoy your time here at Rider. Have fun with your friends. Go see plays, eat dinner at nice places and laugh at movies. Cheer on your favorite team at sports game sand spend time with your favorite club. Look for internships and start networking. Keep your grades up and keep enjoying your freedom.
And focus on getting your diploma because, at this point in life, that piece of paper means a lot more than a marriage certificate.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 03/09/16 issue.