10 ways college life can be like your favorite sitcom

Let’s face it, real life can be unpleasant, but life with a laugh track is exciting.

Even though you’re probably not going to be besties with any of the random strangers you met on your class’s Facebook page, and you may end up hating the roommate you requested, but can’t complain because, after all, you requested each other, try thinking of life in the context of your favorite sitcom. After you do that, you’ll find that college life does not always have to be as serious as you may initially make it out to be.

1) “Sometimes it’s the family you were born into, and sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.” -Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex and the City”

When you get to college, you quickly realize that the world is bigger than wherever you were holed up for the past 18 years of your life. Who knew there were so many different people? The worst thing you can do is gravitate towards the familiar. When you’re around so many different people in such close proximity — residence halls, classes, etc. — you realize that you’re more similar than you’d assumed before talking to them. And those similarities — ranging from past experiences, values and even future plans  — will provide you with opportunities to learn from one another, while the outward differences will make those moments interesting. Most importantly, they’ll give you experiences and perspectives you would have otherwise never gained.

2) “Sometimes we search for one thing but discover another.” -Barney Stinson, “How I Met your Mother”

I am horribly directionally impaired. I don’t go anywhere without a GPS. In college, you realize that everyone is lost in some way — not just navigationally. It takes a while to find people behind the masks they put up. But, when you find a group of people worth being vulnerable around, you find that they can turn into an alternative GPS. They’ll show you parts of yourself you wouldn’t have discovered on your own.

3) “Welcome to the real world! It sucks! You’re gonna love it.” -Monica Gellar, “Friends”

College is full of tragedies. You get locked out, you sleep through a final, your roommate hates you, you get lost — the list goes on and on. If these moments don’t become something you can laugh about later, life gets difficult very quickly. It’s the reason we like sitcoms. Misery loves company, but it’s more than just a shared sense of misery, too. Enduring and conquering similar challenges with a group of friends turns tragedy into comedy because it often takes a fresh perspective to find those shards of humor in a mess like a power outage coupled with a midnight deadline. Often, we only see the worst in our situations, but a tight-knit support system can brighten your outlook. Extra points if you can find a nonfictional Joey Tribbiani. 

4) “Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” -Ted Mosby, “How I Met your Mother”

We often enter college with a common image influenced by the movies and TV shows we grew up watching: endless parties, endless flings and endless failed attempts to go to class. This lifestyle could realistically be yours. But, it would be endlessly boring. The stories of boozing or meaningless hookups aren’t the ones you’ll remember years from now and tell your kids. Rather, you’ll share the substantial memories: that hiking trip you took or the study abroad trip in Europe. You’ll learn from, and thus teach others, about these meaningful moments that you’ll always remember. 

5) “I’m not insane, my mother had me tested.” -Sheldon Cooper, “Big Bang Theory”

Everyone thinks that they have a good idea of who they are when they come to college. God forbid, we remained the people who we were when we first arrived. If college doesn’t change you, you’re doing college wrong. Being exposed to such a large campus with all of its diverse perspectives will be a prominent source of that change, because what you expose yourself to will ultimately determine the experiences that you will have. Not all of these experiences will change you, but they will broaden your horizons. In fact, what you initially thought of as crazy in high school might become one of your favorite hobbies in college.

6) “Find your lobster.” -Phoebe Buffay, “Friends”

A lot of people meet their future spouses in college. Romantic relationships are as much a part of college as friendships. They sneak themselves into every sitcom because, honestly, they often spice up the plotline. Sharing a relationship with someone comprises part of your social dynamic and it gives you something to believe in, too. It’s a substantial sign of emotional maturity to be able to share a large aspect of your life with someone else, and it gives you hope that adulthood isn’t truly that far of a reach.

7) “Challenge accepted.” -Barney Stinson, “How I Met your Mother”

It’s a dangerous combination when you give a group of people who have never made any large decisions on their own an unlimited pass to do so — most college kids do not know the first thing about saving money, for instance. But it’s the essence of college life. College is about learning how to live on your own — just make sure you’re not alone to do it. In other words, college may be about learning to be independent, and that is certainly one of the most important things you will learn, but you must also know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Actually, it’s probably one of the most underrated ways in which you can overcome a challenge. 

8) “Coulda, shoulda, woulda.” -Samantha Jones, “Sex and the City”

You shouldn’t leave college with regrets besides, perhaps, the debt you’ve just recently accumulated. The friends you make should be lifelong and the experiences unforgettable. Like many sitcoms, there’s that scene where the main character is running in the rain after the love of his or her life. These characters know that if they don’t pursue what they want, they’ll be kicking themselves for it later. Seize the moment, take a risk and be the cliche sitcom lover you’ve always wanted to be. It ususally works out in the movies, so why can’t it work for you? 

9) “Assistant to the regional manager.” -Dwight Schrute, “The Office”

I feel like everyday I get asked what I’m planning to do with my life, and my answer has changed so many times over the past year. There’s a part of everyone that is slightly undecided, whether they declare a major or not, and that’s good. College is the place where you discover who you want to be in the world — and not just the career you want to pursue — but that journey is far from easy. Becoming who you want to be after college will require work and dedication. Use your passion to drive you through the challenging times, and one day, you’ll be proud of who you will become. Whether you end up a doctor performing open-heart surgery, or a member of the Peace Corps building houses in Haiti, who you want to be will depend on how you take advantage of your time now. 

10) “It’s going to be legen … wait for it … dary!” -Barney Stinson, “How I Met your Mother”

Everyone’s mind churns out the same list of insecurities, often including woes about physical appearance or personality and character flaws. They often seem trivial once you find a group of people who have seen you at your best, but more often than you may have wished, at your worst, with mascara dripping down your face or bitterness spewing from your words, and chosen to remain in your life regardless. That’s the heart of every sitcom.

Write Bethel at [email protected]