What I Learned From My First Semester as a College Student

Everyone tells you your first semester in college is going to be amazing. Parties, friends, new experiences… but, no one, and when I say no one, I mean absolutely no one tells you that for some people, it is extremely hard to acclimate. My first semester of college was a rollercoaster of emotions, some days I was bright-eyed and excited, and others I never wanted to leave my bed or socialize with another person, ever. I was trying to balance all aspects of life, both new and old. I wanted to make friends but didn’t know who I wanted to be friends with, I wanted to learn about things I was passionate about but didn’t know what those passions were, and most of all I wanted to try and distance myself from my high school life, instead of learning and growing from it. It felt like a year of new experiences and emotions all crushed into four short months. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from those few months, I made new friends, I grew independently and gained new life experiences.

I am the type of person who likes to plan, and sometimes to my demise,  it doesn’t work out. For example, senior year of high school I planned out exactly what I wanted my freshman year of college to look like: new friends, parties, extracurriculars, amazing grades, and a great social life. But what I ended up with was good grades, one or two new friends, some extracurriculars I wasn’t so passionate about, and poor mental health. My first semester was nothing like I imagined. I didn’t live up to my expectations and I took it to heart. I was a mess. I didn’t really want to socialize, I felt really alone and anxious and just heartbroken. I went home for winter break feeling like I was the only one who had a terrible semester because on social media all of my friends seemed to be having the time of their lives. Little did I know, that’s exactly how I looked to them. I spent the three weeks we had at home talking to my friends about their first semester’s, and though some of them did have an amazing time, most of them had just as bad of a semester as I did. It may sound awful, but I felt sort of relieved that I wasn’t alone.

I learned a lot from my terrible first semester. Firstly, I needed to stop being so hard on myself and not accepting change as it came. I set expectations for myself and thought they would come to me with little to no effort. I learned that it’s important that I put myself out there, and not just automatically assume people will think I’m annoying. Ultimately, I wasn’t alone, and a lot of people felt the same way. Secondly, I needed to stop trying to impress the wrong people. It’s simple: if someone wanted to make time for me, they would, if they don't reciprocate the effort and put their time elsewhere, it is okay to assume that that is more important to them. I needed to stop caring what other people thought of me and accepting the fact that it doesn’t always have to be me that’s the problem, maybe it’s something wrong with them. Finally, I learned that I just needed to take college and life one day at a time. Finding a balance between social and academic life is difficult, but it’s also necessary. Spending time with friends and making new connections with different people is extremely important. Building relationships with people who actually care about me and my life was the missing part of enjoying my college experience. I am now two weeks into my spring semester with realistic expectations, growing relationships, and a more open mind. I am excited to see what the next three years at Florida State University bring!

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