Life as a New TCNJ Freshman

As I sat on my freshly made bed, fitted neatly with brand-spanking-new sheets, I watched my parents pull their car out of the Norsworthy Hall lawn to make the 40-minute trek back to my home.

Then, I realized: I am a freshman in college, just three weeks into the new semester, and I’m terrified.

I think a lot of freshmen, including me, try to acclimate as quickly as possible, with the idea that the longer it takes for college to feel like home, the more doomed we are. The longer it takes for us to finally get used to communal showers, bland dining hall food, and three-hour long lectures, the less equipped we are to handle college. 

Because of this, I’ve been trying to really “put myself out there,” as everybody’s mom likes to say. I’ve been propping my door open, smiling at every student I see, and signing up for a million clubs I know I’ll never actually go to. Sometimes it’s really fun. I’ve made some good friends already, friends that I already know will be around for a long time. But that doesn’t mean college life isn’t super difficult sometimes.

It’s hard to constantly have to talk to and hang out with people you hardly know. As an introverted person, the never-ending socialization can be exhausting. Leaving my door open feels like I’m letting complete strangers stare into my private space. Smiling at people so much makes my face hurt. Signing up for tons of clubs quickly became overwhelming and tiresome. I thought to myself, multiple times, “Why am I doing all this?”

I don’t really have an answer for why, but I am hoping that this will be good for me. I admit that I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m in the same boat as all the other nervous freshman who show up to class 20 minutes early and don’t know how to go to the bathroom without asking first. 

But I do think that it will get easier, eventually. Everything does.

Sometimes, it feels like it’s already getting easier. I’ve been learning how to balance hanging out with new people with much-needed alone time in my room. I’ve learned that I don’t need to smile at every single person I see. I’ve sifted through the different clubs and found a couple that I’m actually interested in. It’s taken some time, and it’s not a perfect system yet. But I can tell that I’m still learning.

For the other freshmen like me, the freshmen who still anxiously scan the dining hall for a semi-familiar face, the people who still can’t find some of their classes, and the people who sometimes find themselves itching to go home on the weekend: I think that’s okay. It starts out hard, but I think it will get easier.

We’re all in it together — so let’s do it together.