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Career > Her20s

Message From A College Senior

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TX State chapter.

Anyone who knows me knows how much music has the ability to shape my mood and understanding of my life’s circumstances. I have an increased sense of loyalty to the musicians who have helped me through difficult times, or enhanced my enjoyment of happy times through their work. It only feels right then, that in wrapping up my final semester as college, and final few days with Her Campus Magazine, I include the songs that best sum up what each year felt like. 

me in my dorm room
Original photo by Melanie Love Salazar

Freshman Year: “evermore” – Taylor Swift

I began college in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, August, 2020. After a mix of a sometimes blissful, sometimes melancholic four years of high school that was absent of its last three months due to the pandemic, I truthfully did not feel ready for college. Just a few months before March of 2020, my life and social circle looked drastically different. I had a consistent group of friends and a naive sort of confidence in myself. 

But when March 2020 hit, so did a lot of other challenges–my friend group dynamic shifted, disrupting bonds I had previously thought would last well into adulthood. I was humbled by my sense of confidence and idea of perceived independence. It had become near non-existent through facing the brunt of lockdown, social distancing, and experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety about existing in such a chaotic time. 

The days of April, May, June, and July were filled with me trying to cheer myself up–through long drives, painting (which I don’t even really like to this day), YouTube, and devoting myself to my faith more consistently. All of it did lead me to grow, but it also at times felt like desperate attempts to not feel what I needed to at the time. I was going through unprecedented changes and it made sense that I was having a hard time dealing with it. 

When I finally chose the college of my choice, Texas State University, after a DIY tour (since nothing in-person was happening, anywhere), I felt unsure about it but glad I chose something. I found myself interested in the creative writing classes that were offered and secretly glad I would get to boast about attending such a beautiful campus.

I showed up to my dorm as an eager, terrified, and excited freshman, and was told that most of my classes wouldn’t even be in-person. This wasn’t anyone’s fault, but it did make me feel confused about the point of being there. The day I saw the most people on campus that year was move-in day. Other than that, I was convinced either no one ever left their dorm, or they all went home after realizing how different their freshman year college experience was going to be.

Freshman year was one of the loneliest years I have ever experienced thus far, as a 21-year-old. If organizations, sports events, or in-person activities hosted by the school were somehow still running that year, I either didn’t know about them, or became so used to forcing myself to be okay with being alone that I didn’t feel comfortable going to them. 

Nonetheless, I did make some friends that year and enjoyed the time I spent visiting other colleges because I had so much flexibility to not ever really have to be on campus. I had space to spend time with my family and be in my hometown.

That year was so hard that most of the positive reflection I can do on it is in hindsight. I found ways to cope with really difficult circumstances, a lack of friends, and a lot of alone time. After that year ended, I felt strong because I made it all the way through. I knew I could handle more than I thought I did. I also felt like things had to get better going forward.

Sophomore Year: “I Wanna Get Better” – Bleachers

Sophomore year, things started to look up. I moved into an apartment with people I really liked, got a part-time job on campus, and decided it was time to join an organization, now that they actually were starting to meet in-person with safety precautions. That year brought about a lot of changes that at the time, I didn’t know were going to shape my continuing college years. 

I realized as introverted as I am, I loved living with people. I was able to experience female friendships I felt comfortable and appreciated in again–after months of not having a consistent group of people to hang out with or talk to. 

I joined KTSW 89.9 as a web content contributor and got experience writing for a college publication. I felt really proud to write for them and receive the guidance from those leading the web content team. I found myself writing about what I felt passionate about at the time–mental health. 

Due to the fact I had struggled so much both my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I felt like I had a lot to say. Although I didn’t necessarily feel like I had many answers or solutions, I did feel like I could offer a sense of understanding to those who were experiencing some of the challenges I was facing. 

Additionally, in working my part-time job at Texas State’s University Writing Center, I was able to experience a sense of community. I remember being terrified for the interview and having a sense of imposter syndrome about starting as a writing consultant. However, working there is one of the choices I am proudest to have made. I feel so lucky to have been able to work at a place that is led by people who prioritize empathy, understanding, and genuinely want the best for their staff. I could not have imagined working anywhere else during my time as a student that could have suited me better. I owe so much of my growth, confidence and writing skills to working at the University Writing Center. I was able to grow as a writer, help others feel more confident in their skills (and see their growth in real time–which was awesome), and experience what it’s like to be in a leadership role. I told the staff there this once–that I didn’t see myself as a leader. I’m happy to say that with time and their support, they have changed my once stereotypical idea of a leader, and helped me see how what I perceived as my weaknesses, can be strengths. 

Ultimately, sophomore year, I put myself out there. So much so, that at one point, I felt burnt out with all the writing-related, social activities I was participating in. Looking back, I think this was just a normal human response to acting in a way that was so drastically different than what my last year and a half looked like. I really prioritized getting out of my comfort zone, being vulnerable with my roommates (who I didn’t know that well at the time), and putting effort into doing well in my classes. Above all, the main thing I tried to do sophomore year was get better. 

Junior Year: “Growing Pains” – TOMORROW X TOGETHER

Junior year, I found myself feeling burnt out with my studies as I tried to navigate four writing intensive classes along with a part-time job and extracurricular activities. 

However, I also found myself more authentically exploring my passions and hobbies. I went to multiple concerts and flew out of state for the first time in years. I moved into a new apartment and strengthened my relationships with both my family and friends–which heavily impacted my ability to get through the year in somewhat of a positive mindset.

Although the year is a bit of a blur because of my mental state, it consisted of many “firsts” and showed me how grateful I was to have people in my life that believed in me, most of the time, more than I believed in myself. It happened without me noticing, or necessarily trying. 

Junior year showed me that a lot of the time, you don’t have to try so hard to play your cards right, plan ahead, anticipate disaster, or be the best version of yourself for circumstances to play out okay or for people to care about you. A lot of the most important people you meet–the people who will change your life more than you realize, will care about you even when you aren’t capable of being the best version of yourself. They will offer you friendship and encouragement even when your “best” doesn’t look how you want it to.

Senior Year: “End of Beginning” -Djo

Senior year was definitely my happiest year. The culmination of the years before led me to want to put my mental health higher on my list of priorities, rather than at the very bottom and then pushed away altogether. Once I committed myself to doing that, my other circumstances became easier to manage, even though if anything–my responsibilities grew.

I became the senior editor at Her Campus at Texas State, which gave me an opportunity to start writing about my passions again. I was relieved to find that I was able to love writing again. Previously, feeling burnt out made me terrified for my future. I found myself thinking “Was journalism the right choice for me? What if I can’t do it?” Although it is normal to question these things, it felt more daunting as writing isn’t only something I wanted to pursue as a career, but it at one point had just been my biggest hobby. 

Joining Her Campus and working with the amazing women in this organization made me feel empowered. Every week, I was motivated by their commitment to this organization and the different skills each member carried. 

This year, I didn’t feel as big a need to be liked or seek validation from people I didn’t know. It is such a change from my mindset freshman year and I don’t think it would have been possible without the many difficulties I faced over the past few years. 

When I look back over the past four years, most of my most impactful, life changing decisions happened through making a choice while I was scared or unsure of the outcome. From the very beginning, choosing to attend Texas State University was something I was unsure about. I changed my major and felt nervous about it. I walked into the interview for my on-campus job unsure if working as a writing consultant while being a journalism major would be too much writing to handle. I applied for my role at Her Campus unsure if I possessed the skills necessary to lead a team, unsure if I was good enough at writing at all. 

A lot of the time, for me at least–I have to make a decision while being unsure about it. I have to take action without being confident that things will turn out the way I want. 

Although I came into college feeling like I lacked a sense of community, I am leaving with such a strong appreciation for my group of friends and family–and spoiler alert, my group of friends isn’t much bigger than I came in with! Mainly, my mindset is different. I have gotten a lot better at not wanting my life to look a certain way just because other people’s do. I have spent a lot of time and energy letting go of what my past looked like and embracing my present reality.

I am endlessly grateful to my friends, family, professors and my team at Her Campus: Kadence, AnaBelle, Kayla, London, Courtney, Amanda, Cara, Nina, Julia–they have made me a better writer and I am constantly motivated by their dedication and creativity. 

Although I know there is so much to come, it really is starting to feel like the “End of Beginning.” The good thing about that is it means there’s so much more to come. I’ll try to keep that in mind as I walk the stage today.

EatEm Up, Cats, forever!

me in my grad attire
Original photo by Melanie Love Salazar
Melanie Love Salazar is Journalism student at Texas State University. She has written for the student-led radio station at Texas State and has experience writing across various media platforms. One of her biggest passions are for live music, and other hobbies of her's include going to drive-in movie theatres, reading, and drinking coffee!