When You Want More From Your College Town


Prior to a little over seven months ago, I never imagined myself where I am now: slightly tipsy, ankles sore, surrounded by masses of frat boys chugging beer after beer. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love my university; I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel something missing.

Lawrence, Kansas was never supposed to be a long-term, sustainable plan. If anything, it was a blimp in the road that I had envisioned for myself. It has always had the charm of a traditional college town: sticky bars, cheap eats, and a never-ending stream of alcohol pouring out of every orifice. The only thing that has ever felt out of place was myself, in the sorority letters that still feel foreign and the sense that I’m not where I’m supposed to be.

Or, worse yet: the idea that I could envision myself slowly accommodating to the pace of a classic college scene, like it was ripped straight out of Animal House. As I stand on the balcony of the umpteenth party at Sigma Nu, I find myself wondering when I started traded old dreams of success for clips out from Total Frat Move. This time last year, I was making plans for a radically different world: early morning yoga, coffee shop writing sessions, and an entire lifetime of trying to accomplish something meaningful. Nowadays, I’m waking up at noon to fix my eyeliner from hours prior and struggling to write a piece that isn’t another rip-off of, “X Things To Avoid Buying For Your Bae This Holiday Season.”

I’m not unhappy. I’m content within this familiar realm of intoxication, ridiculousness, and satisfaction. I’m even content just staying up late at the library with a small group of friends, alternating between finishing our coursework and laughing over something trivial. It’s everything that you would expect from a first semester in college. It’s the careless pursuit for freedom and adventure that most people spend their whole life trying to recapture. If there ever were a time to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole, now would be it. It’s as easy as closing your eyes and slowly letting go of every ambition you’ve ever dared to dream of.

If I allowed myself, it would be that simple. I would switch my major to something practical and brush past my classes within the next four years. I would settle down with my college sweetheart because we’ve grown used to the limits of our relationship. We might buy a house on the outskirts of Kansas City and raise our kids in the image of suburban domesticity. Writing would be a childhood dream and culture would be diminished down to tasting a new sample from a Thai restaurant. It would be cozy; it would be comfortable.

I don’t want to be comfortable.

If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t want any of it.

I want to be pushed to my limits. I want the people around me to fight with me, challenge me, and follow me into impossible places. I want to be constantly amazed by the grace of God, so not a single day goes unappreciated. I want to chase after my ridiculous, impractical, and utterly idealistic dreams and catch them so I never have to spend a single moment asking myself, “What if?” I want so much more than what any dollar night could offer, and I’m so fucking thankful that it’s only taken a semester of college to realize that.

It’s not a sin to want more from life. It is a crime to grow complacent with familiarity. I am not the girl who will spend the next foreseeable years retelling college tales. I am not the girl who is satisfied with the idea of driving her kids to soccer practice every Sunday. Most definitely, I am not the girl who can close her eyes and accepts life as it is. While most people are waiting for the world to change, I want to be one changing it. Between a life of happiness and a life of meaning, I’d take the latter any day.

And if given the chance, I hope you do too.