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Freshman Year Being Tough on You? Hang in There, You Are Not Alone.

For me, freshman year was a total disaster.

Because of my own experience, I decided to dedicate my first article to all the freshmen who are struggling with surviving their first year in college. The first thing I would like to tell you is that you are NOT alone. There are many freshies just like you who are already making plans to fly back home and say to hell with all of it.

 

That’s you by the way.

As I was saying, there many factors that can determine why you would want to go back home. If the only factor is your lack of social skills or homesickness or maybe both, then continue reading this because I was Kermit once − I know how hard it is.  

 

The first advice I have for you: don’t be a quitter.

Trust me, you are much stronger than you think. You cannot give up simply because things are not going your way. As a matter of fact, life only gets harder, us humans we have to just learn how to handle things better. Now that you are in college, you have been thrown into the terror of adulthood without any notice and it is a DARK place. It is a place where you have to make an effort to meet people, you have to wash your clothes, be responsible for feeding yourself and making sure you don’t get kidnapped; basically, you are now responsible for yourself and having that much responsibility for the first time in your life may seem overwhelming. Learning that the stupid things you do actually have consequences is dreadful.

 

But one thing that was made clear for me sophomore year was that everything I endured as a freshman made me an even stronger person. It might sound cliché, but it’s the truth. This being said, why shy away from something you will eventually have to go through later in life? For instance: job interviews, blind dates, standing up for yourself, moving into your first apartment, meeting your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents. EVENTUALLY, life will find a way to push your boundaries and when the time comes, these difficult experiences will mold you into a stronger person. I know it might be scary and frustrating and I know that you’ve googled endless ways to make friends. I also know that you have convinced yourself that going back home is your only option.

But I am here to tell you it is not.

 

With this being said, here’s my second advice to you: put yourself out there.

 

Living in Puerto Rico my whole life and moving away to the states always seemed like a terrifying yet thrilling idea for me. When I first got here there was a strong cultural shock that influenced how well I socialized with the people around me. It was hard, to say the least. One of the first things I noticed was that I couldn’t make people laugh anymore. Being funny had always been a social clutch of mine, yet the first thing I noticed was that translating my jokes from Spanish to English resulted in a lot of awkward moments and stares. I no longer had a clutch for socializing and also, to be honest, I had never needed to make any friends because I grew up with my friends back home. I don’t even remember how most of them even came into my life. I never switched schools; my best friends had sort of always been there and because of this I had to learn how to make friends, and in the process,  I did silly things that have now turned into lessons.

One mistake I made was expecting people to come up to me when I wouldn’t dare approach anyone.

You are now in college, and college is very different than high school. Everyone has different schedules and different things to do; nobody is up in anyone’s business. Our campus has over 8,400 people, which although it may not be a lot compared to other campuses, it is still a LOT of students; you are bound to encounter different individuals every day. The only way you will make any friends is by making that first move and facing rejection. After all, rejection is the whole reason you are reading this article. Rejection is, unfortunately, a part of life and the more you confront it the less you will fear it and therefore more opportunities it will open for you in the future. As a freshman, I tried socializing with many types of people, and it did not work out with most of them −which is fine. A good friend of mine explained something that was hard for me to learn, which was that you don’t have to click with every person you meet, but you do have to try meeting people.

But be careful, another mistake I made was forcing relationships.

If it is not working out with someone or a group of people, it just isn’t. There are so many wonderful people and clubs on campus for you to explore that forcing things is just a waste of time. Be open to the idea of continuing the friend-making process. Knowing people should never be a one-time thing, just because you hung out with some girls the first two weeks of freshman year doesn’t mean those girls have to be your best friends. We cannot let anyone into our lives just because they stumbled across our paths. Remember that the people you let into your life will bring with them all of their vibes. Don’t let negative people into your life just because you are struggling to make friends. When you learn what you bring to the table as a friend, you will understand the type of people who really deserve you.

 

Third piece of advice: learn how to be alone

This was one of the hardest things to go through last year and one of my beautiful sisters gave me this advice. She explained that I had to learn how to be at ease with being alone.

Never in my life had I experienced having nobody to sit with at lunch until I came here. I would wonder about how nice it would be to sit with a nice group of friends again like back home. It was lonely and frustrating at first because I would always ask myself what I was doing wrong. But the truth is, I wasn’t doing anything wrong and neither are you.

It might be complicated to understand where I am coming from but at the end of the day, the most loyal person you have in this world is YOU. Take this time to figure out stuff about yourself. Learn that you don’t have to be surrounded by people all the time to be okay because you are enough. Take this time to test out how it would feel like to  go to Plant Park and hammock, go scootering downtown and try some pizza from Eddy and Sam’s, take a stroll by the River Walk or go to a soccer game by yourself. These small moments will help you understand that even though you might always have people who love you and support you, at the end of the day it is you against the world. The quicker you understand that the less lonely you will feel when you are alone.

 

My fourth advice to you: be yourself.

It might sound like a common advice, but one of my mentors back home once told me: “You will make it far in this life by being yourself.”

I’d like to pass on this advice to you, I know we are in college and some of us are still in the process of figuring out exactly who we are. But always remember to follow your gut (not your heart cause sometimes that girl doesn’t know what she doing). Being yourself is so important because if you pretend to be someone else, you will eventually find yourself surrounded by people, who deep down, you don’t like.

 

It is easy to compare others with your friends from back home, don’t do this either. Always remember that your friends and family members are only one phone call away, call them. Your friends are all probably going through the same thing you are, and if they’re not they probably have a lot of juice to talk to you about.

 

My final advice to you: don’t bottle all those feelings up

It might sound silly but keeping all those confusing emotions to yourself is very self-destructive.  The University of Tampa has great counseling services offered at the Health Center, don’t be afraid of setting up an appointment and speaking to a counselor. After all, the first step into battling negative emotions is to try to understand where they are coming from. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with a counselor, a family member or a friend; I urge you to find a place where you can write down all of your concerns and things that currently bother you.

 

Sometimes putting our thoughts into paper help us come to terms with what is happening in our lives. And once again, always remember you are NOT alone. If you would like to reach out to me about this subject feel free to email me at [email protected]

Take care and until next time lovelies!

-B

 

Bianca Candelaria is a proud Puerto Rican pursuing a degree in criminology/criminal justice, psychology, and speech studies at the University of Tampa. She is passionate about people and enjoys writing. Most of the topics she writes about aim to help other women sail through the struggles of being a college student.
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