2018 in Review: Happier & Healthier

2018 was and still is quite the rollercoaster of a year for me. As it draws to a close, I reflect on how my experiences thus far this year has informed important lessons moving forward. It was a year of many firsts: first-generation college student, first time away from my family for extended periods of time, first college friends, and first dissolution of friendships. Here are the lessons I learned or reaffirmed over the course of the year:

Homesickness is Perfectly Normal. I remember returning to my dorm room at night instead of going to socials or parties after orientation because I desperately missed my family. We never had a proper goodbye and I felt overwhelmed by the influx of activities and information during orientation while I emotionally digested the fact that I wouldn’t see my family for 1.5 months. Thankfully the worst of it passed within a week. I still experience homesickness around breaks and immediately after but the emotional adjustment is no longer as lengthy or painful.

Mental Health is of Utmost Importance. I never truly realized the importance of maintaining my mental health until a domino effect of mental symptoms left me unable to function last semester. I’ve attended therapy consistently for the last 5 months and it has slowly helped reframe my negative thoughts and cope with any sudden onset of symptoms.

Each Friendship is Unique Need-wise. Not all friends can be your rock, anchor, emotional support, etc. and that’s perfectly okay. It’s okay to have a friend you party with, a friend you study with, or a friend you go rock-climbing with. There’s no one-size-fits-all model for a friendship.

Friends Come and Go. No one warned me about the friendship turnover during the transition between freshman and sophomore year. After months of a bitter, frustrating, and emotional fallout, I’m now at peace. I was and still am terrified of how much more alone I am now but I’m no longer miserable because of desperately holding onto friendships that were no longer feasible.

Consistent Contact with Friends and Family is Healthier for the Mind. Part of what contributed to my loneliness and isolation last semester was inconsistent contact with friends and family. As classes kicked off and I developed a daily routine, I conjured up daily excuses as to why I didn’t reach out or reply to friends and family sooner. This semester, I attempt to message my friends and family daily or at the very least, weekly. Even if our conversations are stale at times, it’s comforting to know that we make time, however little, for those who matter to us.