I had been counting down the days until I could leave for college since middle school. The idea of living in a new city, far away from my small town and everyone I knew was absolutely enthralling to me and was my subject of obsession and fantasy for years. When the time actually came for me to leave Ohio and make the trip down to South Carolina, it all suddenly became incredibly overwhelming. I was only 18! And here I am leaving my family and everything I know! Suddenly, my dreams became much more real, and I was filled with second guesses because of my college decision. There have been a lot of moments I’ve doubted myself this first semester, and I know there will continue to be a lot of moments where I doubt myself up to and after graduation! I’ve got no doubt that most other people feel the same. I’ve been trying to cope and work my way through the best I can and I thought this could help other people! So without further ado, I present:
“Some Stuff I’ve Learned That Might Be Helpful To You!”
(In no Particular Order)
Commitment and Confidence
You are not always going to make the correct decision. Something is very difficult to decide on- and no one is going to get the answer right one hundred percent of the time. The one thing you absolutely can’t do though is to avoid doing something because rejection scares you. You’re not supposed to be perfect one hundred percent of the time. This is college, the time where you’re actually SUPPOSED to mess up and learn. It’s normal and expected and completely okay for you to be afraid. Don’t sell yourself short or miss out on wonderful new things because you think you aren’t good enough. this is the time to try and find out where you belong. Failure is a wonderful thing, certainly not something to be afraid of.
I am a vocal major and I signed up for an opera workshop this semester. I had never sung opera before and my audition, in front of the entire class which included many sophomores, juniors, and seniors, did not go well at all. I was petrified, and in tears by the end of the audition process. I told my professor I thought it would be best for me to drop the class and try again when I was more prepared. She eventually convinced me otherwise. Though it’s still incredibly embarrassing and difficult sometimes, I’ve learned so so much from being in that program and I know for certain it has helped me conquer a lot of my previous fears about singing classical music. I hope to repeat the course and see how much I’ve grown! Not to mention, to my surprise, everyone else in the class was incredibly kind to me. I had initially assumed they would look down on me for not having as much experience as they do- but most all of the people I’ve talked to have offered me nothing but help and kindness, to the point it finally feels like I belong in the program.
Awareness and Motivation
Keeping in mind what I said in that last little section, be aware there is a difference between trying out new clubs and friends and general experiences and having a disregard for your own safety and wellbeing. I’ve witnessed many people I care about to go off to college and make some pretty horrible decisions that have affected their mental, spiritual, physical and financial wellbeing because they assume they’re untouchable now that they aren’t living with their parents. This is not true. It is essential for yourself that you learn to treat yourself and the people around you with respect. Obviously, you will not do everything perfectly one hundred percent of the time, but the college experience, I believe should honestly be about learning to better yourself. That means going to class and working hard at what you want to achieve. Every decision you make will eventually catch up with you. Take care of yourself and the people around you.
I personally do not handle stress well. I get very easily overwhelmed and assume the worst case scenario. This first semester had forced me to get comfortable and consistent using a calendar and dealing with my problems as soon as possible. Some less legal opportunities have become available for me too and though I personally wouldn’t take them anyways- It’s important to remember to try certain things only with people you can absolutely without a doubt rely on to take care of you.
Meeting new people do not have to be as hard as you think it is. Joining a club or sport can open so many doors for friendships. Don’t be afraid to stop and ask someone about their day. It can be very hard for knowing no one when coming to college. There is ZERO shame in downloading Tinder or Bumble or Meetup. Get exposed to different elements of your new environment and keep an open mind about the people you meet. You will eventually find the people you’ll get along with best, but in order for that to happen, you have got to put yourself out there and make yourself known.
My first few weeks out here were, and still kind of is definitely pretty lonely. No doubt things have gotten better in that department, and I know they will continue to get better as I meet people here. But it is hard to be patient and find your group or your special someone in a new place. Before I got here I always figured dating would be a waste of time but I figured I should take a shot and branch out and things are going pretty well! Every day I talk to someone new from my music classes and have made different groups of friends through the departments I am in, and I’m so grateful for the little groups I have now! Patience is key, I think. Don’t settle for people who treat you badly just because you’re in a new environment or are scared you won’t find anyone better. There are always people out there that will blend well with you and treat you right.