When I look at where I was on August 22nd, 2015 and where I am today, April 24th, 2016, I don’t really know how to put the year into words. All I know is, it’s been a year.
My senior year of high school was picture-perfect. The thought of leaving my friends, family, hometown, and my high school was absolutely terrifying to me. Anything related to college completely scared the shit out of me, for a lack of better words. I would physically remove myself from a room when I caught my friends talking about anything college-related. I’m finding that I was so terrified because of my lack of knowledge about college. What even is it? What do you do? Why does no one in college ever talk about it? What was so special about it? Why are they the best four years of your life? Are they really? What about my life at home? I had so many questions and no capacity to handle all the answers.
I grew so much my senior year. I became myself really – I reached out to new people, I built strong relationships with people I cared about, I got my first boyfriend and learned what love was, I stopped caring so much about the little things. I truly believed that I had “found myself” that year and that I was not going to “find myself” in college.
Little did I know that I would grow even more than I did in the previous year. The type of growing I did my senior year was so completely different than my freshman year of college. During my senior year, I grew from all the highs. However, this year, I grew from the lows. And it’s taken me 8 months to realize that it’s okay and that the lows are inevitable. With this year came many highs as well, and I cannot neglect the good moments.
In September, I found myself wishing to be home with my friends. I hadn’t formed any true bonds with people at school yet and was wondering when I’d “find” my college best-friend. It seemed like everyone else was having the time of their lives – going out on weekends, hanging out in each others’ dorms, adventuring in fun places around campus. I felt that was missing the “college experience” and I didn’t really know what I was doing wrong.
My first semester of college was by far one of the biggest learning experiences of my life and a time of unsteadiness. It was all about getting my feet on the ground and finding my place here. I felt guilty for going home on the weekend because I felt that I should be making an effort to connect to people. But weekends at home made me happy, so I did it anyway. It consisted of sunny days in the courtyard, exploring campus, meeting tons of unique people, getting involved, studying hard, occasional coffee trips, countless struggles, tears, and laughter.
As second semester rolled around, I found myself coming to several moments of realization.
- It’s okay to be uncomfortable
- Going home for the weekend is okay
- College doesn’t have to be your “home” if it doesn’t feel that way
- Unsteadiness and unhappiness spark growth
- A coffee addiction is a completely normal thing
- Be unapologetically yourself
- Learn to willow (go with the flow)
- It feels GOOD to learn, even if it means an early morning class
- Every single person I meet is in my life for a reason
- Be patient
- It’s okay to not have a plan
I wish I could put better into words how much this year has had such an impact on me. Unfortunately, one of my biggest weaknesses is putting my feelings into meaningful sentences that get across what I truly want to say. What I do know is that the lessons I’ve learned this year are things I will take with me for the rest of my years in college, and essentially for the rest of my life. The semester ends in one week and I’ll go back home and hangout with my friends as if no time has passed. Next fall, I am confident that I’ll be ready to tackle whatever my sophomore year has in store for me. Thank you, Freshman Year.