After my first day of classes I called my parents to tell them I was dropping out. I had big balls and suddenly decided to drop them. In stereotypical Persian fashion, they completely dismissed my declaration by saying the only way I could drop out is if I transferred to Harvard or Yale. I told them that I would drop out the second I became a social media influencer or if Lorne Michaels decides SNL needs a token Muslim cast member. We reached middle ground. I’m not sure why I wanted to drop out or why I had even had an inclination to (very stupidly, I may add) tell my parents that this college path wasn’t for me. The college path is for me, I love higher education, I love my community, I love learning and expanding my knowledge, but in that moment I felt like I couldn’t. I could say it was because of my long history with mental illness or because my professor assigned us the entire “Die Hard” script the first day of class, but that’s not quite it. Something just didn’t feel right. I felt like a first year again.
I thought these feelings weren’t supposed to reoccur. I had already done this. I had already shed my tears, covered my walls in memorabilia that remind me of home, sent numerous unnecessary texts to my mother about the most mundane and frivolous parts of my day. I was afraid that suddenly, I was reliving the worst parts of freshmen year, which very easily got to me.
I had endured the first year blues, but this time, I’m standing in the face of the brand-new reds, A la Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The first year blues are horrifying in the sense that almost everyone experiences those greedy little bastards, but everyone is too busy adjusting to being in a marvelous, yet terrifying atmosphere to even acknowledge our intrepid loneliness. But the reds, oh man, the reds are vicious and controlling. They absorb your entire body and mind, leaving you to question if you’re even supposed to be here. The reds are an attack, and you’re no where close to being Switzerland. They make you feel guilty, unworthy, and ungrateful. Nobody told me they existed.
This time around I’m not worried about whether I’ll make friends or what my roommates will be like or if I’ll like the school. The fundamentals have been established. My sophomore year so far has been a consistent state of wondering if anything I’ve done has value and if I’m even doing enough (in typical New School fashion–we all overwork ourselves).
“Should I try to switch friend groups, majors, schools? Why do I still miss my parents and my friends so much?”
These thoughts flooded my head. I had already solved all the problems, but here they are again, bigger and badder. They’re the Alphas (Yes, I’ve been re-watching Teen Wolf, don’t come for me). But as I’m sitting here in my rent controlled apartment with my friends, the house centipedes, I’m starting to realize that those feelings don’t go away, just because you’ve done it once before.
You’ll miss home. You’ll miss a parent, a sibling, a pet, a friend. You’ll miss having some sense of routine. You’ll miss the Wendy’s by the used car dealership that your friend threw up in–more than once. You might wonder why you miss home and all the places and people you swore you’d never mention once you left. And that’s the problem. It’s the idealization of your school, your campus, and of New York (or really wherever you are). Just because you move back or you move away doesn’t mean your problems will fade into the background. I spent so much time fixating on the fact that everything will be better once I leave, that I wasn’t prepared for the challenges when I came back (even though I had already done this once before). You might not even miss the entities themselves, but what you’ll miss is the familiarity, the conformability, and the routine. And the worst part is that feeling is truly never eradicated and like the New York weather, a bad day pops up when you need it the least. There’s not a way to speed up the process or get rid of these feelings, but you can find ways to make the attachment and isolation ephemeral.
I shouldn’t allow myself to feel guilty or ungrateful for feeling bad or homesick. It’s a part of the process. I’m sure it will happen my 3rd year, 4th year, grad school (If Lorne Michaels really decides he won’t be needing my assistance), and maybe even for the rest of my life. I don’t know. Nobody really knows. I’m not going to say it’s gonna get better or that it won’t get worse, but what I can do is manage these feelings and proclaim that it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to doubt yourself. Even though I have a year under my belt, I still have no idea what I’m doing. I still want to be a cheetah girl, a philosophy major, a writer, a stand up, an Upper-East side housewife. Like so many other people, I want to do all these things but I have no where to start. That’s what this time of our lives are for. We don’t have to have the answers. We don’t have to have a plan. We’re allowed to let it happen and be aware of our situations without obsessively noticing and dwelling over every small detail.
If you’re like me, and you’re freaking out over the fact that you’re freaking out, take a deep breath, make an appointment with a therapist or your advisor, hit your JUUL, grab a drink with friends. Calm Down. It’s hard, but you’re not alone. It’s okay to admit that it is all a bit frantic because you’re back in a new environment and school year. This is all natural. Conflict, anxiety, and deep emotions are human and they are natural, but it’s important to recognize when the thoughts in your head and taking over your body and when it’s time to get help. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help and conversely, don’t obsess over the fact that you’re not as worried as your friends. We’re all processing things in different ways.
In times like this, I like to think of the Michael Scott quote (would it really be my article if I didn’t reference Michael Scott), “I Braveheart. I am.” Always remember, you Braveheart, you got this.