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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

There was a time when I was excited about changing. I thought what I most desperately needed was a change, and I was so confident in myself and my identity that I believed I could handle it. With my freshman year of college almost over, I often think about who I was a year prior and the difference is astonishing. I went from knowing everything to knowing nothing, with the confidence I felt becoming a memory. I used to cling to what I once knew and remembered, hoping that by repeating the past I could feel comfortable again. As this year went on, I realized that change is an uncomfortable, invasive and brutal experience. Once something I ran away from, change is now something I’m learning to confront.

My senior year of high school was everything I could have asked for: I finally found friends who understood me, I discovered my passions and interests and I was completely and utterly happy. I had what I needed and I thought college would be the same, with everything I had found remaining intact and undisrupted. In a blink of an eye came graduation and with another blink, I was settled into my dorm, away from everything I built back home. During my first semester, I continued to assure myself that I would find new friends and quickly feel secure in my new home. No matter how much I attempted to comfort myself, I felt my prospects begin to dim.

I felt isolated and empty, and the confidence I once had slipped away. The people I did meet were miles ahead of me, already having their established friend groups and their lives seamlessly together. Before starting college, I was told freshman year was tough. I consistently heard the old saying “You’re where you’re meant to be,” but I began resenting this statement. New conversations felt like meaningless interactions and everything I said didn’t feel authentic. I found myself altering my personality to fit who I was around, with my identity slipping in the background. I spent most of my days alone, finding comfort in my classwork. My rationale was that if I focused most of my energy on homework, I wouldn’t have to think about everything I couldn’t control or manage. I crafted a daily routine for myself: waking up in the morning, getting changed, grabbing coffee, going to class, working on homework and walking home. It’s almost as if I had an internal bell system that told me where to go and what to do next. I felt comfortable with repetition because it was one of the few aspects of my life I had control over.

I craved that sense of authority because it meant I didn’t have to confront the mess following closely behind. I guess you could say I felt like I was always on film, where on camera it seemed like I was put together, but the minute “cut” was called, the destructive chaos behind the scenes unfolded. When the fall semester ended, I told myself that my mental war was finally over. I thought by going back home, I would return to the carefree ease of the year prior. While being home, I did feel myself return but I still sensed a looming void, almost as if my mind went hollow. I was in my hometown, a place I knew like the palm of my hand. Everything around me was predictable, so I shouldn’t feel incomplete. I came to realize that it wasn’t my hometown that changed, or that I was living in a new location: it was me. I had outgrown what used to bring me joy, and for the first time, I was officially afraid of growing up.

Throughout my whole senior year, I positively thought about the future and the prospect of becoming an adult. Initially, I found my perspective to be naive and I often wanted to tell my past self, “You’re wrong! Turn around!” I found myself resenting the future, wishing I could halt time and stay in one place. Now with my sophomore year approaching, I realize that my past self, while optimistically clueless about her future, had something. She had hope.

Spring semester has its challenges, but I decided that upholding my insecurities and mentally comparing myself to those around me wasn’t worth the energy. The enthusiastic energy I had a year ago is returning because I’ve learned that growth isn’t linear like I was led to believe. My senior year was just that: it was a straight line and I think that’s what made life seem easy. My mental bell schedule is what I knew, so the control I yearned for wasn’t my own; it was crafted by my high school and extracurriculars. With one fall semester down and almost a month of spring left, I’m coming to terms with the fact that life is an uncontrollable mess and not a straight path. Have I exactly cracked and mastered the code to change? Absolutely not, but I’m getting there.

No matter how many times I was told that the transition from high school to college was difficult, I didn’t believe it until I was experiencing it. Accepting and embracing unpredictability isn’t a relaxing task, but it’s one I’m now glad to take. If I could tell myself from a year ago one thing, I would tell her to open herself up to unfamiliarity and not rush the process. Sitting in discomfort and thinking about the parts of yourself you’ve always wanted to avoid isn’t going to shatter the mirror. Those cracks are temporary and proof of accountability. Most importantly, I’d thank her for having hope. At least we got that right.

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Sophia Ferraro – Florida State University HerCampus Chapter