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Closing the Yearbook

All throughout high school, when daunted with painful question of, “so...any idea where you want to go to college?” people constantly followed up with the statement, “well, no matter where you go, it’ll be the best four years of your life!” This promise of sudden happiness and thrill never allowed me to process the fact that, yes, this very well could be the best four years of my life, but it could be some of the hardest as well.

Being a sophomore now, I can assure you that freshmen year was one of the most transformative periods of my life. I was subconsciously trapped in a high school bubble, popped by the transition to a new state, school, room, etc. I was on my own, meeting countless individuals all who were in the same position as me: transitioning and nervous. Yet, I felt so alone.

Sometimes we forget that others are going through the same exact experiences as us. Everyone around me looked so happy, so I began to convince myself that I was “in love” with college in hopes I would appear just like them. Despite making friends, joining a club sport, and attempting to attend every social event possible, I continued to wish I could go back to high school. I missed my friends, my parents, my home, and even the little things like being able to walk into the senior lounge and know everyone in the room. I found myself thinking more about how much I missed high school and everything that came with those four years rather than embracing the new path I had just embarked upon.

From an outside perspective, I appeared to be “peaking” in this new environment through the photos and stories I picked to share with those from back home. Everyone asked me how I miraculously fell in love with college so quickly, which I believe helped convince myself that I could not be happier.

Ironically enough, the person who was able to see through my cover knew me for the least amount of time. It’s funny how sometimes those who know you the least pick up on things you don’t even see in yourself. Little did I know his advice would change my perspective on college for the rest of freshmen year. In about mid-October, I found myself reflecting on how much I loved high school and the excessive list of things I would do just to repeat those years over again.

“You really have to learn how to close the goddamn yearbook” he said bluntly. Confused, a little offended, and at a loss for words, my eyes began to water. I loved college. I had friends, I went out, I was healthy. But hours later, it began to hit me. I realized that whenever I felt myself getting homesick, missing my ex-boyfriend from high school, or just having a bad day, I would immediately text or facetime my mom or a friend from home. I acknowledged how one of the ways I became extremely close with my friends during high school was through bonding over similar emotional situations, especially when it came to feelings circulating friends or relationships. So, I texted one of my friends from my freshman orientation class asking to hang out. I went in with an open mind, ready to spill this internal struggle of missing home that I was feeling. Despite the comfort I previously felt when thinking about venting to a friend I had known for years, I went into this conversation with an open mind. I told her everything, ranging from how much I missed the food from home to how often I cried thinking about how little I would see my high school friends that year. And you know what? She felt the exact same way. She even kept thanking me for reaching out because she would never have had the courage to. It was this mutual bond that flourished a friendship that I still have today. From there on out, I knew I wasn’t alone. Knowing that I could have these types conversations with people I barely knew helped me realize that I could find mutual connections with just about anyone on this campus.

 

Life is always going to be constantly changing. You’re going to move, and you’re going to attend schools far from your home. You’re going to travel for pleasure, or you’re going to travel for work. You’re going to make new friends, and you’re going to lose some friends. You’re going to break someone’s heart, or you’re going to get your own heart broken. There will be moments that feel so perfect that you wish you could relive them countless times, and there are going to be times where all you just want escape from the situation you’re in. And that is why life changes; we will never live in a perfect moment, but we will also never be stuck.

At first, I failed to recognize the beauty in change and growth. I mean, why change something if it brings you happiness? Overtime, however, my mentality of “high school forever” began to change. No, it wasn’t an overnight process; it took time and self-reflection. Sure, I will always look back at high school as some of the best times shaped by people that I continue to surround myself with today. But, I needed to realize that in order to make the most of all the new experiences I would face in college, I did need to take a step back, focus on myself, and close the yearbook.

In summary, it’s inevitable that during your freshman year and maybe even beyond, you’re going to miss your friends, your first love, your parents, and everything you associate your high school years with. However, life is about learning how to embrace change and learn how to find the positives in everything it hits you with. You’re not going to be happy all the time, you’re going to make plenty of mistakes, and you’re going to surround yourself with people who you’ll drift apart from. But that is just life. Sucks right?

At first, I initially thought so. For me, this was a hard mentality to embrace. However, after learning to accept change, freshmen year of college DID become one of the best years of my life. However, it is these difficult situations that shape us as people and allow us to grow and develop in order to thrive when life changes in our favor.

Yes, sometimes I still sneak a peek at that renowned yearbook, but it is no longer a reflection of a place I wish to return. It has become a reminder of how since those days, I have learned to value every moment as nothing is forever. Good or bad, it is important to value every person and place you find yourself attached to as there is a way to better yourself from all situations that life throws at you. Appreciate these learning moments as soon enough, life will change again.

 

Kathryn Elliott

Syracuse '21

Kat Elliott is a sophomore at Syracuse University. Studying in the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and the Whitman School of Management, Kat plans to pursue a public relations career in the business world. Kat grew up in Natick, Massachusetts, where she attended two all girls schools in the Boston area. She credits her love for writing to her alma mater, the Dana Hall School for girls in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
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