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What I Wish I Knew As A Freshman

Thinking back to freshman year brings a gentle, thoughtful smile to my face. I can recall the nervousness of taking on a new chapter in my life and the excitement through which opportunity seemed endless.

For much of high school, I craved independence and the freedom to be on my own; naturally, I believed college would be the epitome of those things. And in many ways it has been. Still, the college experience has taught me that a healthy dependence on others doesn’t make you weak or needy—it makes you human.

I also looked forward to college life as a chance to “start over” or “reinvent myself.” I was never the girl who had a flock of besties waiting to hang out every Friday night or the one who was invited to every party. High school hadn’t been exceptionally awful for me, but it wasn’t emotionally fulfilling either. In many ways I viewed beginning college as the time to really put myself out there in ways I hadn’t before. While I happily made friends with those who shared similar interests and were looking to build a new life in college much the way I was, I learned that embracing a new life meant being open to finding value in different ways. Joining organizations and other activities became more fulfilling than I could have imagined. Don’t get me wrong—I still love a carefree night out every once in a while—but time has taught me that happiness can come from more than the number of likes you get on social media. 

It can be so easy to get caught up in the swift pace through which college life moves. It’s painfully easy for me to remember the haste and frantic drive I thought was necessary to be successful. I was so naïve about what I thought the “right path” was that I forgot to pause for a moment and enjoy the beauty of what it means to be a college student. College is the time to explore, and not narrow yourself in. Take a class in a subject that you’re truly interested in or that simply sounds intriguing to you. If it takes you a bit longer to adjust or you feel you need some additional time for your own mental health, take it. There is no such thing as a linear path or a normal experience; we have to want to accomplish things, and therefore must be able to do them when it’s right for us. And for the love of all that’s holy, please DO NOT major in pre-med because you think you have to. There are paths to success for every major out there (yes, even the humanities!), and you simply have to be willing to follow your passions in order to find your way.

Finally, I wish I had realized as a freshman how important it is to view life with an open mind. Whether you are sitting in your first honors course or the hallway of your honors dorm, meet each opportunity to learn something new or to meet someone new as the chance to grow. There are countless ideas and people to learn from as you navigate this undiscovered part of life, and you truly never know when something or someone inspirational might change your perspective for the better. Keeping your heart and mind open to the possibilities that await you, rather than shutting yourself off or passing up an opportunity out of fear, will help you develop into the person you want to be both inwardly and outwardly. In paraphrasing Shakespeare, “The world is your oyster.” Don’t be afraid to take your chance at finding that special pearl.

Abbey is an Ohio native currently caught between the charm of the Midwest and the lure of the big city. She loves all things politics and pop culture, and is always ready to discuss the intersections of both. Her favorite season is awards season and she is a tireless advocate of the Oxford Comma. Abbey will take a cup of lemon tea over coffee any day and believes that she can convince you to do the same. As a former English major, she holds the power of words near and dear.
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