Faith on the Quad Patience: Essential to College Life

In my last article, I discussed the importance of having solid friends for support in college life.  In this article, I want to examine some of the challenges of college friendships.

One of the biggest adjustments for incoming college students is the lack of privacy.  In high school, students are generally able to end a busy day of classes and after-school activities by going home to a relatively peaceful household, and spending time alone and with their families.  In college, however, there is no such thing as “alone time.”  Dorm life is hardly ever quiet or peaceful.  It can be difficult to make the transition into a world in which one is around other people all the time.  Yet that is what college life is for many incoming students who live in dorms or apartments.  Students spend all their time surrounded by their peers: they go to classes together, study together, eat together in a large cafeteria, spend their free time together, and share a common bathroom.  Even when they are sleeping, they are not alone; they most likely have one or more roommates sleeping in the same room.

Spending all of your time with other people can be difficult.  Even if you are friends with your roommates, it can be tough to be surrounded by them all day, every day.  Disagreements are inevitable when you spend so much time with the same people: lack of sleep, stress, and moodiness can all contribute to irritability.  If you are not careful, intense arguments can break out, even among the closest of friends.  Therefore, one of the greatest challenges for incoming college students is figuring out how to maintain control when tempers run high.

Patience is the key to successfully living in close quarters with other people and is one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  St. Paul tells us, “A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness” (2 Tim 2:24-25).  Patience is what allows us to deal with our friends when they irritate us, forgive them when they wrong us, and work through difficult times with compassion and understanding.  Therefore, patience is a vital virtue in helping us make it through our college years.

Learning to live together with other people can be viewed as a preparation for later life. Most people will one day get married.  In a marriage, patience and understanding are an essential part of living out every day of one’s life with another person.  Spouses must learn how to deal with frustration, impatience and annoyance.  They must learn to how to cope with irritation in a patient and loving manner, willing to discuss problems that may arise and make compromises to solve disputes.  For those who enter a religious order, patience will also be essential to community life.  Regardless of the vocation to which one is called, the ability to live and work with others is an important one, and college is a good time to develop the necessary skills and virtues to make this possible.

College can be both one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging times in a person’s life.  College friendships can last a lifetime, and college memories will remain for years to come.  Strong friendships are important in college, and the strongest, richest friendships are those that are built on virtue.  To get the most out of our college friendships, we must work on developing the virtue of patience and pray for God’s help to treat others with love and understanding.  It takes prayer and practice, but with dedication and the grace of God, we can succeed as we strive to imitate Christ in our college lives.

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