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Mental Health

A deep dive into the mind of a freshman who’s ThRIvING

If you’re like me, the last 7 weeks have been nothing short of eventful – both good and bad. It’s your first time living away from home and you’ve been thrusted into an adulting experience that you’re not really sure how to navigate yet. You’ve already run through all the food you packed from home, still aren’t sure of what buses to take around campus, been locked out of your dorm room more times than you can count, can’t manage your bank account or budget to save your life, made like a grand total of two friends, have no time and you’re way too overwhelmed with your workload, maybe even tanked a midterm here or there and are trying to cope without having some crazy breakdown? Because, same.

But as every middle-aged person you have ever encountered in all of existence has said, “College is the best 4 years of your life!” And while the year may not be panning out exactly how you envisioned it, here are a few tips (independent of all the other clichés you’ve probably already heard but should really start doing – ahem procrastination – so you can cope and navigate college life to get the best possible experience you can.

  1. Take a walk, take it all in, and take the weight off your shouldersCollege is nothing if not fast paced, and between running for classes and grabbing something to eat, the most forgotten aspect of your life is often introspection. Maybe take the long route home from class sometimes, walk the streets and just soak up the college experience. Reanalyze your expectations from college and life, do some soul-searching… hell you’re 18! What do you even know about anything? It is so important to be in tune with yourself…. I literally cannot stress this enough. You don’t need to feel pressured to chase unrealistic goals set by you or others, chase you own happiness and constantly reflect just so you know you’re on the right track. This is really important for your health, so put your phone away and admire the fall beauty, kayak in the arb, or have an impromptu photoshoot with your friends in law quad. Don’t forgot to truly be present in the moment, because you’re only going to be here once, and it’s as wholesome as its going to get.
  2. Find your people

    You’re not a superhero so don’t try and do everything alone. Let go of the trying to fit in, because your people are out there and you’re going to find them if you haven’t already. Call home or a friend while heading to class and just rant if that’s all you want to do. Build yourself the perfect support system and find comfort with similar, understanding individuals. Relationships are in the little things, so start somewhere and don’t feel awkward about introducing yourself in the hallway. It’s not too late to make friends, and we all know the best ones…those relationships always start off weird. So, find yourself some partner to navigate these new waters with.

  3. Go all out and breakdown I’m not even kidding a little bit when I say go all out Jessica Day after a breakup cry^^. Separation anxiety hits different when you’re in college and no amount of fairy light/pictures across your wall is going to make you feel completely at ease with friends and family being scattered across the globe. You’re homesick, you’re single, your social life is non-existent… maybe you’re an international student and don’t understand football (let’s be real the only kind that matters is the one you kick with your feet, sorry don’t @ me), you’ve tanked your first set of midterms and are unsure what exactly to do now, because this isn’t what college life seemed like through a movie screen? The truth is, it’s okay and you’re probably not alone.  It’s okay to not be okay and sometimes you just need a good cry. So, cut yourself some slack and tailor your expectations to what will make you happy. Embrace your new independent life, learn and experience things out of your comfort zone, set some goals for yourself and chase them best you can. But it’s okay if you don’t always succeed. Sometimes you just need a good cry so in a bad moment just Jessica Day all over this city
  4. Get a plant!!!!

Even though it probably doesn’t feel like it yet, balancing academics, mental health, and your social life without completely crumbling from the mere weight of it all, that isn’t you trying…it’s you thriving. So, don’t worry too much, you’ve got this college thing down!

Probably not the first point you see on a college survival kit guide, but somehow I’ve found this to be quite important. Scientifically plants are supposed to increase your concentration, give you some fresh air etc. etc. etc.  But my view is more along the lines of – they’re cute and add a splash of color to your dorm, it’s fun and basically requires minimum work to maintain. My pseudo pet (doesn’t replace my dog back home but she’s still wholesome) is a succulent I call Jennifer PLANTiston (cause she’s cute and timeless). I’m still trying to figure out how, but a plant really does put you at ease and can be a real mood changer on a gloomy day so go grab yourself one, I’m sure there are plenty plant puns to go around!

I'm a freshman at the University of Michigan. I'm majoring in Computer Science and love soccer, dance, experimenting with food, reading and bingeing tv shows. I express myself creatively by hurling opinions at you in a chaotic organization of thought, and then call it writing.
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