College: Within, Without, and Everywhere In between

(Note: The message here does not only pertain to just the college atmosphere. It also can be applied to living in the city, or any other seemingly massive community. With such a universal message, knowing how to live within and without in any environment will just keep you even more leveled.)

Campus life for a majority of college students is just about to get started. In this incredibly thrilling time of our lives, we are exposed to massive changes that occur straight before our eyes, some consciously and other quite subconsciously. However, it seems that one change that we fear the most is the adjustment to the rollercoaster that is campus life.

Whether we are hitting the campus of 50,000 or the campus of 500, it becomes very easy to be only a single body in the mass. This often can lead to extreme isolation and social deprivation, despite the overwhelming system of support of others.  We may feel as though we are immersed into our resources, but sometimes we feel just as like we still haven’t found our niche or best placement.

This can especially be seen in the works of Scott F. Fitzgerald in his illustrious novel, The Great Gatsby:

“I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park through the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets… I saw him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without.”

Quite often, college will feel like the experience that Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, in his wild and fascinating variations on life. BUT, F Scott Fitzgerald notes that despite Nick own personal story taking place in the middle of Manhattan, he was still “within and without” in his own story.

So do we do about this ‘within and without’ business and make sure we have a real connection to whatever student body we wish to be a part of? Simply…

Be involved.

When most of us hear this phase, we are transported to a time when involvement simply meant signing up for a new club or trying out a new activity. If someone attempts to join a new organization without having any physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual connection, then they will continue to feel as though they are a part of the shell of the group, and always wonder if they should be somewhere else on campus.  


The state of being, which in our case is involvement, is all truly about creating meaningful connections AND profound associations. When this is done, every interaction is appreciated and every gesture is a sign of gratitude. Instead of creating artificial bonds that seem to all but dissolve by the light, strive to make a few deeper ties into your own reality. By removing this synthetic zone of fixation on what we could be doing, we allow ourselves to become fully engrossed in what we are doing. Without worrying about trying to have ‘the best story on campus’ or the ‘most notorious reputation’ we allow ourselves to be involved in much other rewarding activities that don’t question our social status, but rather our spiritual elevation. With such rooting in the self and the soul into everything that is joined or experienced, life itself becomes an even more enjoyable process.

And THAT is when college becomes the wonderful experience it is cut out to be. It is your choice, to be within and without, or to be completely involved with every part of your being in this fascinating new experience. Your call, your choice, your college dreams are ALWAYS your choice.

(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at

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