What I Wish I Knew Before Freshman Year

Freshmen year is tricky. Even coming from four years at boarding school, I had no idea what to expect in an actual college setting. The amount of independence you’re given can have pros and cons but if you look on the bright side: you have much more control over the next four years than you’ve ever had before. Especially if you’re leaving a toxic environment behind, coming to college will be a breath of fresh air so remember to put your best foot forward. I experienced some bumps in the road over my freshman year, but I’m thankful for all the memories it has brought me. The following are some lessons that I wish I knew before starting freshman year:

 

  1. No one cares as much as you think they do

Your biggest critic is yourself. I promise, no one is watching you eat alone, no one keeps track of how many classes you attend, people don’t always remember how much you go out. Running in sweats to your 8am or tripping up the stairs on the way to Farinon? I doubt anyone will notice, but if they do, it’s only to lend a helping hand. People and life don’t always look picture perfect, so don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards! Cut yourself some slack and do what makes you happy.

  1. Yes, it matters, but it doesn’t all matter. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You’re still figuring it out as you go, and that’s okay. Your friend Susie has a year-by-year Pre-Med plan and research internship lined up while you still struggle to choose which cereal you want in the morning. Don’t fret, you have three more years (or your whole life) to figure it out. That one bad grade or semester GPA won’t determine your success during the rest of your college career. Comparison is the thief of joy. -Teddy Roosevelt.

  1. Use your free time wisely and step outside of your comfort zone.

It is incredibly easy to waste your day away and get into the routine of going to the dining hall, class, and then back to your room. Get out of that routine! Eat meals with different people or change up which dining hall or restaurant you go to. Just do something. Spend time exploring what Easton has to offer whether at Crayola, the weekly farmer’s market, or thrift store! College is the time to expand your horizons. I came into college planning on studying neuroscience, and now here I am, an intended Gov/Law and A&S major interested in journalism and marketing. Your sky is the limit in college compared to high school (okay, well, a car on campus helps).

  1. Talk to anyone. This isn’t high school.

Coming from someone with serious RBF, it’s okay to smile at strangers! So what if someone doesn’t say hi first, what’s the harm in you saying it first? Or even a simple smile? Also, if you’re having a hard time with feeling homesick, there will always be someone there for you. Open up to someone from class and ask them out to lunch one day. We all picked the same college, after all, there’s got to at least be some common interests between you two!

  1. Self-care is key

Whether self-care means going to bed early, cozying up and watching your favorite rom-com or treating yourself to dinner with your girls. Reward yourself after studying hard or staying up all night working on a paper. What you make of your college experience and how you take care of yourself is completely up to you. The independence can be a double-edged sword but let it benefit you the most in terms of creating your personalized self-care routine. Let yourself fully relax after a long weekend and take time to be present--that means signing off of social media too!

  1. Learn to say yes AND no. You don’t always need to have it all together and do everything at once.

“You can do anything but not everything” is an important quote to keep in mind during your freshmen year. There were always be another semester to get more involved in a club, join a club sport, , so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t think you’re as involved as you should be. Try to avoid feeling FOMO after saying “no” to plans you’re too busy for or not entirely interest in. Juggling things all at once will only lead to an overwhelming mess after it all becomes too much for you to handle. Prioritize your needs and don’t feel obligated to satisfy everyone around you. Just because you’re focusing on yourself, sometimes you have to be selfish to stay sane in the midst of a chaotic semester.

  1. You’re not alone.

As I said before, comparison, especially over social media, is your worst enemy. People only show the highlights of their college life in their social media posts. You may have never known the girl with the crazy tailgate Snapchat stories failed her exam the next day. Also, everyone is figuring out how to properly adult, most of us failing multiple times before we learn from our mistakes. We’re all just small fish in a 2,500 pond, making it up as we go along. Even if people seem like they have it all together, they are probably on their fifth month without changing their same bed sheets from move-in day.

 

What once seemed like a foreign land will become home if it hasn’t already. You will find yourself, your people, your niche, your major. Take it one day at a time and don’t let other’s criticisms stop you. Listen to your gut. If you feel pulled to a new hobby or strange class, go where the wind takes you: A.K.A. make the most of your college experience! You will stumble across people, places and passions you never knew would even become an important part of your college life, don’t be close-minded. A lot is in store for you these next three years! Why not take the bull by its horns?