Straight A’s made me lose sight of what’s really important: having fun

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Sarah A. Laver, Staff Writer

Sarah A. Laver

Sarah A. Laver

If someone would have told me when I was 16 that I would be attending college by the ocean, I would have laughed in their face. Yet here I am, only now realizing just how naive I was about college, life and myself. 

College is a tool, that if wielded properly can help us succeed. But ultimately the power to get where we want to go lies within us, not sprawled upon a piece of paper. 

I come from a pretty unorthodox background.

I was raised in foster care and group homes from the ages of six to 18 years old. My mother was a drug addict and a criminal and this put me in danger as a child. Both of my parents lost their parental rights but I never knew my father or why he lost his. Not knowing my father left an empty space in my life. A role only he could fill. 

When I was 17 I dredged up the courage to find him online. It wasn’t long before my father and I were exchanging secret emails with one another. A handful of months later, after a series of legal procedures, I was finally placed back into my father’s custody. I boarded a plane from North Carolina to Montecito, California and my life changed forever. 

Shortly after arriving at my new home, my newfound parents discovered my severe lack of an education and enrolled me at Santa Barbara City College. 

I was terrified and excited at the prospect of being “normal” for the first time in my life. I couldn’t mess it up. 

So, after a bit of trial and error, I aced all of my classes and joined Phi Theta Kappa, an international honors society at City College. 

But despite how far I’ve come, I am now a few months away from graduation and filled only with regret. I didn’t make many friends and I didn’t have much fun. 

I live in Beach City, an apartment complex located beside City College. Every Thursday night is party night. 

Unfortunately for me, I take Friday classes. So, while most residents are swaying to music and chatting up strangers, I’m solving about a hundred math problems. 

I collected A’s like one would collect seashells— my head buried in the sand and oblivious to the ocean of people around me. 

Somewhere along the way I forgot why I even wanted to be in college. I forgot who I was.

All of my life I’ve been a writer. I’ve written to face my demons, and I’ve written to escape them. 

After several semesters of churning out essays for my classes, I stopped free writing altogether. I was a machine, lifelessly completing tasks. My inner voice screamed deadlines and exam dates into my subconscious until it became all that mattered. 

At this point, graduating with an associate’s degree doesn’t fill me with the elation and pride that it probably should. I just feel empty and defeated. 

There is however, a silver lining to all of this. A piece of advice I can now pass to you. 

College is not about “making it.” 

College is about finding your way, experimenting, having fun, making friendships and creating memories. 

Good grades might land you into a prestigious four-year university but they won’t necessarily hand you the job you went to school for. Likewise, bad grades won’t necessarily destroy your chances at a happy and successful life. 

So, by all means do your best. Study hard. 

But also love hard. Laugh hard. And play hard.