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Why I Lost Myself My First Year of College

I came to college a wide-eyed freshman excited for all the adventures and experiences college would bring me. I ended up coming home an empty shell of a person with absolutely no identity. If two quarters alone could do this damage to me, how much would three more years do? Spending spring quarter in my hometown taking classes from my childhood bed, I could not help but think about all the experiences I was missing. I should be at Picnic Day. I should be in front of the Memorial Union drinking a smoothie. I should be with my roommate gossiping on our respective beds. I should be with my friends on Friday nights picking outfits for going out. I should be taking sunset pictures on the top of the Hutchinson parking lot. I should be doing this. I should be doing that. I should be with her. I should be with him.

Point is, when I came home, I didn’t know how to just sit at home and do nothing. My first two quarters of college, I was always doing something. If I wasn’t freaking out over my nightmare of a GPA, I was out with friends dancing the weekend away. I was always with someone: a friend, an acquaintance, or a study buddy. I was always out and about. In college, I completely forgot the concept of “a night in.”

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In quarantine, every night became a night in. I was forced to sit and think about the person I had become, and I had no idea who she was. Without even knowing, I had somehow transformed into an irritable workaholic and control freak who not only needed to constantly do work but also needed that work to be done perfectly and efficiently. Even during the first month of quarantine, I was distraught by every minor inconvenience and always needed to be on a Zoom call with a friend to keep myself occupied. How did I get here? And why was I here? These were questions that I never really took time to ask myself until just recently.

The reason I lost myself my first year of college was due to two major things, the first being that I didn’t know how to be alone. I quickly grew accustomed to always being around company and always having people to hang out with. It was hard for me to tell them I wanted to be alone for a couple hours or that I didn’t want to go out that night, so I never did. I became a pushover and after spending almost 20 weeks constantly being surrounded by people and having plans after plans, I forgot the importance of being alone. In fact, I was scared to be alone.

The second reason I lost myself was because I felt the pressure to live the stereotypical college life. College is always described as the best four years of your life. I didn’t want to waste it staying in and watching Netflix. I can do that when I’m forty, but I can’t go out three times a week when I’m that age. While I did not waste any time in college, I certainly wasted my energy. After two quarters, I was already burnt out. I was tired all the time and felt almost ashamed to stay in. This is not the way it should be. College is about finding yourself, and I had completely lost my sense of identity.

After realizing this, I was determined to get back on track. I’ve dedicated an hour of my day everyday to just sit in my backyard and reflect, and I’ve started spending less time on my phone or stressing over work and more time just sitting and watching my favorite TV shows. The truth is, I will never be who I was before college agan. That’s just not how it works. However, I am on my journey to finding my new self: a college student, sorority girl, and so much more. At the end of the day, despite finishing up my first year of college online, I’ve learned the true purpose of college: finding myself.

Hi! My name is Ashley, and I am a Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major and a Communications minor :)
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