I’ve never been this far away from home…alone, so stepping outside my comfort zone was more than just physical. I was anxiously waiting for my move-in day and to begin my new life across the country. Then, I remembered the advice my family, friends, and even strangers on the internet were telling me. These are the 5 reminders I tell myself any time I am down, anxious, or any feeling – Going away to college edition:
Cherish those who stuck around through thick and thin.
College is a time of new beginnings, struggles, and experiences. So much is happening and changing all at once, and it can be hard to navigate all alone. While we make new college friends, it’s still important to maintain the relationships we have with those we were close with back home. As much as things are changing now, even more changed during our adolescence, and the friends we had during those times helped get us through it all. Just because they may not be close to us in proximity, we can still lean on them from afar during hard times. Whenever I’m feeling anxious or homesick, I like to phone a friend and catch up. It always pulls me out of my worst moods and brings me a sense of comfort. Staying present in these relationships won’t just benefit you, but also ensure that your friends from home know that you’re there for them, too.
Don’t fear simplicity.
To take a page out of everyone’s favorite internet big sister, Emma Chamberlain’s book, there is nothing wrong with simplicity. I think a lot of people come to college and expect to immediately make an abundance of friends, be going out every night to a different party, and not have a second of downtime but, in actuality, the college experience is what you make of it. Don’t be pressured to live up to what you see your peers doing, comparison is a dangerous game to play. I know we all struggle from time to time with FOMO, but clearing time in our schedules for the simple things in life is key to maintaining stability in mental health. There’s nothing wrong with taking a night off and having some alone time; or setting a Saturday aside for journaling, taking a trip to the farmers market, or snuggling up with your favorite book or movie.
Don’t let the world make you hard.
Navigating off-campus trips alone, getting hit on by older men, friend drama, and even more I dare to mention, are unfortunately pretty universal experiences for most women upon coming to college. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, these things don’t get much easier and can be extremely emotionally taxing. These experiences may make you want to close yourself off to the world and curl up in a ball in your dorm room and hide forever. Or, it can cause an overall distaste for these things and result in withdrawal from the things we love and a loss of the kind, optimistic sides of our personalities. In these times, it’s important to remember more people in this world are, they are bad. Despite the bad experiences college has so much to offer, and it’s important not to let the small portion of the bad outshine the potential for an amazing time on campus.
You are more than enough.
Whether it’s in friendships, romantic relationships, or just in classes, we all end up feeling like our best isn’t good enough from time to time. It’s crucial to remember that these feelings are completely normal, and even the most seemingly confident people still doubt themselves and have insecurities. When I find myself being self-critical, I just picture my younger self and think about how proud that little girl would be to see me now. I would never let her feel even slightly like she wasn’t enough or tolerate anyone who made her feel that way, so why would I now? When it’s people that make you doubt your worth, just remember that at the end of the day, you’ll always have yourself to fall back on. In terms of school, remember that your peers are more than likely just as lost as you are, and even those at the top of your classes got there by faking it until they made it.
When you find a partner who loves you as much as your dad does, marry them.
Dating is hard to begin with. And when you add going into a college known for its notorious hookup culture, relationships become even harder. It’s honestly unlikely to find the one while in college, but it’s certainly not impossible. You’ll just have to pick through a crowd of emotionally immature and unavailable people first. When it comes down to it, love isn’t found in the anxious spaces we often expect to find it – outings with friends, sweaty frat parties, or in the cute boy in math class. Too frequently, we mistake butterflies for anxiety or gut feelings and end up in relationships where our worries and insecurities only intensify. Instead of looking for a spark, we all should try to look for that safe, familiar feeling that can only come from our family and close friends. That’s the type of love that will withstand anything life throws at us, keep us calm and make us feel safe and secure. When that love comes your way, don’t run from it – cherish it, and hold on tight to it for as long as you can.
I know that these are my tips that I remind myself of when I notice myself struggling, but I have a specific joyous feeling when I remember my worth because of these. Self-empowerment may be a tough subject because too often, society mixes confidence and arrogance, but let’s just make a memory, a friend, and to class on time.