Fall in love in college. Or, at the very least, be open to the idea of it.

Far more than achieving a high GPA or preparing for a job, college is about absorbing as many life lessons and personal experiences as humanly possible. Structured as it may seem, a college environment is the most easily accessible epicenter of tolerable chaos and spontaneity.  It’s one of the few places where thousands of people congregate for a long period of time. It’s an essential part of people’s growth as they are willing to accept learning from stupid mistakes. Some consider the pinnacle of these mistakes to be falling in love. Take that with a grain of salt, however, because whether it lasts or not, it can be among the most educational experiences you encounter.

Opinions on falling in love in college are split. There are people who want nothing but to find someone to be devoted to and to share experiences with, while there are others who are fueled by wild promiscuity and can’t be bothered to try to spell “monogamous.” There are people who solely wish to focus on academics and there are those who have no particular feelings towards one side or the other. The diversity of views is good for looking at things from all angles, but can make it hard to choose a path.

Mass media also does little to help the indecisiveness. One minute, someone could find themselves sifting through the handful of daily Barstool Instagram posts and feel compelled to avoid college relationships altogether. The next minute, they could be watching The Bachelor where girls of nearly the same age break down crying because they haven’t found love and think their lives are over.

Introducing love into your life, especially for the first time, is by no means a simple task. Just think about it in basic terms. You are making the decision to commit great amounts of time, energy, emotion and maybe even money, to something that you can’t be sure will even be worth it a few years down the road. That alone sounds utterly ridiculous, right? Well seeing how college shares the same characteristics, it may not be. In fact, it should be reason enough to have a more open mind about love. The similar nature of love and college lead the two to have a complicated relationship. They fight for prioritization over one another at a time in people’s lives when the future in an open world stands on the podium of exceptional intimidators.

Not being prepared for the world that follows college is a legitimate and reasonable fear, especially now when the cost of higher education puts students in-line for long-lasting debt right out of the gate. Even beyond the financial aspect, college students are motivated to see themselves grow and make their own accomplishments. They have a desire to climb a ladder and receive recognition for their achievements. In situations like these, love can really hinder the ability to reach personal goals.

For reasons like this, it is much easier to justify avoiding love in college from a logistical point of view, but humans are and always have been social and emotional beings. To avoid potential love would be to avoid something that naturally makes us who we are and all the fantastic little things that come along with it. The things that people overlook on a daily basis include the ability to let them be completely vulnerable without fear of negative consequences, comfortably staring at someone from two inches away without feeling the need to speak, and even something as simple as having someone to hold on to when the world is working against them.

Everyone’s experiences are different, but for many, love is the greatest thing they could have ever welcomed into their life. It isn’t something that can be forced, but something that should never be ignored or taken for granted. As is the case with anything worth cherishing, love requires a lot of hard work, but the reward is exhilarating, unforgettable, and extremely educational.

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