Article Photo: Author’s photo from her final first day
‘Tis I, your local final semester senior, staring down the barrel of the real world and the end of my time on campus. Everyone tells me I should be excited, and I am, but I’m also terrified. Being at college, though it might break you on a weekly basis, is like having training wheels on your bike. It’s fun, this freedom, but it’s also safer. People are still willing to bandage your scraped knees and right your bike for you. They know you’re learning and you’ll be imperfect.
I was lucky to have parents who could help me financially. Not as much as they wanted, but more than I know many others could expect, and I knew that if I was in a pinch or if an expense came out of nowhere, they were there for me. My dreams were ideas and my fears were so far away and now I graduate in December and I’m pretty sure my calendar is wrong and 2020 will never come.
I don’t mean to belittle how terrifying freshman year can be. I only mean to say it will get better, and you will likely enjoy your time, even if you don’t realize it. You’ll count and mark and wish the days away, wanting desperately for classes and school to be over forever and maybe, maybe that’s how you’ll be, right up ‘til the end. I had friends like that, and that’s okay.
But maybe you’ll be like me. Sometimes I crave the future so much it physically aches in my chest and then other times the mere thought of it puts me at the edge of an anxiety attack. The unknown can be daunting and exhilarating and confusing all at once.
So, my little freshmen, deep breaths. You’ll have projects that will be easier than you thought and exams that’ll crush your soul and you’ll cry and you’ll laugh and you’ll do everything and somehow more. You don’t know as much as you think, but somehow you also know what more than you’d expect. It’s okay to be undecided in school, in love, in life. I’ve found admitting I have no fucking clue to be one of the quickest ways to bond with another student. 9 out of 10 times you’ll see the other person light up and admit they’re as confused as you are.
This is where we get to my advice, right? Enjoy it. You’re paying out the ass for this tuition (or maybe your parents are), so do what you want. I’m not saying f*ck classes, get lit, or screw it, I’m staying in though that thought will cross your mind many a time and sometimes that thought will lead to actions and that’s okay, that’s college. What I mean is…
Join something that sounds fun, a club, an intramural. Meet people and pad your resume with something that isn’t workworkworkwork. Quit something you were comfortable with, but aren’t sure it’s you anymore. Make friends with the people you saw in high school or in movies or books or whatever and told yourself I want to be them. They exist. College is all about niche interests, find yours. Find yourself.
I don’t know if I’ve found all of myself yet, but I’ve found a lot. I’ve found the courage to go after what I want, the determination to better myself, and the ability to understand what I’m capable of. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like much until I remember how fifteen year old me would see everything I’ve accomplished. I like to think that I’m making her proud.
I’m not sure how much of my personal experience was college or Hamline or just that time in your life, but I loved it and I’m scared to leave it. That being said… I’m not sure I’d do it over again if I could. I did my time with training wheels. It’s time to see if I know how to ride a bike.
So freshmen, from a senior, it’s going to be terrifying, but there’s also a really big chance it’s going to be okay. So relax, take a minute for a mental breakdown if you need to (no one will judge you), and get to work making the most out of your time.
I promise you, graduation is closer than you think.