“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” -Rumi
Want to know some important questions to ask yourself if you are feeling miserable in college?
As someone who spent the past 9 years in school pursuing their Ph.D., only 3 of those past years weren’t spent in complete agony over my life and the path I was on.
What changed?... I did.
Awareness is the first step to breaking any psychological prison.
Here it is: I was miserable in college because I had no idea who I was, where I came from, and where I was going.
I don’t mean where I came from in the literal sense, but I was clueless about my Source.
Beginning the journey of self-discovery, the one I detail in my first #1 Best Selling book, Crystal Clear: A Journey of Self-Discovery (From Public Housing to Ivy League), is what helped me gain clarity and freed me from the painful cycle of self-doubt and uncertainty about the future.
So, I have listed some important questions to ask yourself while in college that I had to figure out. These questions are in no particular order of importance but can only be answered by you. I encourage you to seek the support of mentors and leaders who have walked the path before you.
This post is all about important questions to ask yourself if you are facing difficulty as a college student.
Important Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Do I really know who I am?
Many people walk around clueless to the untapped wealth they have within. I will let you in on a secret: You are not your background, race, sex, gender, social class, name, etc.
All of these superficial things are labels, given to you upon birth. They are not your True Self. Your True Self is much more. It is the invisible part of you that has no end and no beginning.
Self-Knowledge is your key to freedom
2. What brings me happiness in my daily life?
Never place your happiness in the hands of others or the hands of the future.
This is a trap and a very good one at that. Look around and notice all the people who displace their happiness with the hopes of it one day falling in their lap. It won’t because happiness isn’t something to be pursued. It is created and it is created in the Now.
Eckhart Tolle explains this concept beautifully in his book, The Power of Now.
3. Am I listening to my inner guidance?
This question may take years or a lifetime to be revealed (I ask myself this every day), but it is worth being aware of. You see, it is an important question to ask yourself because most times our misery stems from our lack of self-awareness.
The people who love us the most offer us their insight, but they have no idea what your path will be. You are the only one who fully comprehends what you are capable of, which means you are the only one who knows when you are on course.
In my own life, this inner guidance has come in the form of a small voice. Not small in its significance, but small in its ability to grab my attention.
What listening to your inner guidance feels like.
It is quiet and usually drowned out by the opinions of those in our external environment. You have to be honest with yourself if you want to learn the wisdom this voice reveals. Some call it intuition, God, Allah, Higher Self, or Universe. It doesn’t matter what you call it, only that you recognize that it just is.
It is the part of your being that is all and is connected to all. The part of your consciousness that knows the way and is always waiting for you to ask for guidance.
4. Am I striving for external validation or true freedom?
This was the hardest question for me to ask myself because I was too afraid to admit that all of those years of striving and trying to get degree after degree was to prove my worth. I thought that external validation would give me the freedom I needed to be myself but that was far from the truth.
You see, seeking external validation and seeking true freedom are roads that diverge in opposite directions. In one path, no matter what you do, the end goal will always elude you. It is a bottomless pit because you will never be able to truly please everyone in your life. It always seemed to me that older people mastered this concept beautifully, but I didn’t understand why I had to wait until I was old and grey to stop asking other people to see me and accept me as I am.
Never ask for permission to be who you truly are.
It's interesting because the more I stopped asking, the less it mattered and the better response I received from those in my environment.
I was no longer desperate for the approval of others, so I was free to show up as my authentic self, and that was the beginning of the path to true freedom
5. Am I the type of friend I would want in my life?
In my previous blog post, 5 Best Tips for Making Friends in College, I mention that a significant part of making friends is becoming a friendly person.
When you ask yourself the important question of your own friendliness, you find out aspects of your life that may be keeping you from attracting the type of people you desire to have in your circle.
Would you want a friend around you that always pretended to be someone that they weren’t? Would you want someone around you that constantly told you that you weren’t good enough or smart enough?... So, why do you speak to yourself that way?
You are light and love in its truest form.
You just have to remember who you are, and sometimes letting go of false concepts that you were programmed to believe in takes time.
6. Am I suffering in silence out of necessity?
Don’t feel bad if you have concluded that you don’t have to suffer in silence.
These important questions aren’t to make you feel even more miserable. Their purpose is to bring awareness to the dark areas of life and send love to our wounds, even the ones that are self-inflicted.
Utilize your resources. For years, I suffered in silence because I didn’t think other people would care about my pain. I didn’t think they would understand. It was only after I started seeking help through counseling services offered by the school and later finding a therapist in my city that my silent suffering became less and less.
You are not your trauma or pain.
You are only experiencing it, which means that there is a part of you that is aware of your experience. There is a side of you that is without pain: the observer (seriously, read Eckhart Tolle's book! He explains this a lot better than I could in one blog post). That is the True Self.
You connect with this side of you through honest self-observation, realizing that you are not to blame for your past trauma, but no matter what, it is up to you to do whatever you can to heal these parts of you so that you may walk in the fullness of all that you truly are.
7. What would make me smile today?
In states of misery, it’s often difficult to focus on the opposite, but it is in our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
When I was suffering in college, I asked this important question every chance I got because it caused me to focus on a different mental image. One where I had everything I needed even if I didn’t really feel that way at the time.
Use mental imagery to answer this very simple question: What would make me smile today? It could be as simple as a phone call from a long-term friend or reading your favorite book in a sunny park.
Whatever you choose to focus on is enough because it comes from you.
You are enough!
I have said this many times before and I will continue to share this truth with you over and over: You are enough. End of story.