Days Like These Are Okay


This article is for me as much as it is for you: it is a reminder that things will be okay.

Last fall, my first “real” semester of college thanks to the pandemic, was a nightmare. I was riddled with anxiety and a sinking, tense feeling in my stomach. I rarely ventured into the social scenes on campus, and the majority of my meal times were spent sitting on my bed eating Cheerios and containers of cantaloupe I’d brought from my home in New Jersey. Throughout the semester, I gave my roommate increasingly unbelievable excuses as to why I would be spending nights at home. The truth was I couldn’t bear to spend the night in a place I hated when home was just a half hour bus ride away. My roommate transferred in the second semester, and I was glad; I didn’t have anyone I had to explain myself to.

During those first months I wondered, “Will college always feel this way?” And, more melodramatically, “Is this what the rest of my life will look like?” 

I was embarrassed and ashamed. These were supposed to be the best years of my life, and I was sitting in my haunted dorm room (yes, Finlay Hall is haunted), eating melon and reading Kant for a class I couldn’t care less about. I wanted to transfer to Lincoln Center, thinking that Rose Hill was my problem. Then, I thought about leaving Fordham altogether.

I adopted a more fervent “fake it till you make it” strategy in the spring semester. I made a more concerted effort to choke down my anxiety. I devoted more energy to developing my friendships. I joined the Ram staff. And then things started turning around. Over time, I wasn’t just keeping the anxiety at bay; it actually started to disappear, at least just the tiniest bit. It wasn’t until April that I started to understand college, to understand the “college experience” and how I might fit into it.

During the last few days of the spring semester I had the lyrics of Van Morrison’s “Days Like This” floating through my head, particularly the line “my mama told me: ‘there’ll be days like this.’” I somehow made it to the days that Van Morrison’s mother, as well as mine, prophesied. I was truly astounded that the dark place I’d started my Fordham experience in could have actually become… sunny.

Now, I can’t remember what that was like. I wish I could remember exactly how good it felt to sit out on Eddies with my friends on a beautiful spring day. I wish I could remember tearfully hugging them goodbye, wondering how I could possibly go three months without seeing them. On the drive home I do remember thinking that I never thought I could have such wonderful, quintessentially “college” days. 

In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m back where I started. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe college is just a series of false starts and set-backs and do-overs. The “college experience” isn’t just what you see on your Instagram feed or in movies (and that’s not just because Fordham doesn’t have Greek life). 

It’s normal to feel that the Promised Land college is reported to be is actually a barren desert, and this feeling isn’t talked about enough. College is a rocky road for a lot of people. It often dramatically switches lanes between smooth sailing and destabilizing turbulence. (Is that too many transportation metaphors?) We need to stop buying into the falsehood of the universal, perfect college experience. 

Now, I have to keep a different lyric from that same Morrison song in mind: “I just have to remember there’ll be days like this.” I have to remember that it does get easier, and it will for you, too — whether you were excited to enter Fordham’s gates on move-in day or you were feeling unshakeable dread the night before. During stress-filled essay-due nights when everything feels bleak, remember that we’ll find those happy days. I promise you.

If you’re staring dejectedly at your phone screen or walking aimlessly around campus, wondering how you can be sad in a place so beautiful, this article is for you. However what you feel is okay, and no scary feeling is insurmountable. And during those unhappy days, it’s easy — too easy — to fall into a pessimistic mindset on campus and believe that you’re alone, especially when you’re lonely. But you’re not; it may feel like it, but you never actually are. 

I can’t help but wonder what I will feel like next year, approaching the fall semester of my senior year. Will I remember the wonderful days? Or will I be pleading with my ceiling to turn back the clock — even just one day? Maybe both of these scenarios will be true, and I’ll be overcome by the bittersweetness that hangs heavy in August air. I don’t know if the pit in my stomach will ever really go away, but I do know that it does eventually lessen and that yours will, too. Or, maybe, we just get stronger. 

There is no universal college experience — we will all have our good days and the days where the promise of sunshine-filled afternoons is a little hazier. We just have to trust that those good days will be here again soon.