Lately, I have been struggling to accept the fact that my first year of college is over. It truly is such an odd feeling realizing that time has moved so fast– I can’t even fathom that I have lived in a dorm and on my own for eight months. This has led to me reminiscing about my experience so far. I have grown so much and I have gained new perspectives about myself and the way I interact with others. So, I wanted to share what I have learned so far:
- It’s okay to struggle with making friends.
Everyone knows that freshman year is supposed to be the time that you build a friend group and there is some pressure that comes with this preconceived notion. But trust me, it is far better to be patient than to force friendships. Focus on meeting new people naturally rather than with the sole intention of finding the next person that will join your newly formed posse. It will be worth it in the end.
- Don’t take things personally.
If you find yourself having a disconnect with your highschool friends, realize that they are just as busy as you are. Chances are, there is nothing more to it. On the other hand, if you meet new people at school, don’t freak out if you only hangout once and never see them again. College is about experimentation and that requires a lot of trial and error. There is nothing wrong with that– or you
- You’re not alone.
This sounds cliche but let me explain. Most likely, all of the emotions you feel, whether in a social or academic setting are widely held by everyone else around you. As freshmen, we are all going through the same transition period and it is not an easy one. School gets stressful. Everyone wants to make friends. Use this to your advantage if you ever find yourself feeling “abnormal.” Nothing is as perfect as it seems.
- All you can do is try your best.
College classes easily become overwhelming because it seems like we are now being held to a higher standard than before. I used to be unable to accept certain grades and would dwindle my perception of myself down entirely and label myself a failure. After reflection and growth, I now tell myself that if I try my hardest, I can not be mad. It is out of my control at that point. If you find yourself in a cycle of regret for not trying your best, reflect and push yourself to show growth whenever that next opportunity arises.
- Practice being comfortable with yourself.
Regardless of how outgoing or reserved you are, we all need time for ourselves. College is such a great time to grow more comfortable with being alone because you are beginning to experience independence. This can be as simple as going to get groceries by yourself, taking walks alone, or even going to eat at a dining hall solo. It is so important to have these moments of solitude for reflection and to ensure that you are never alone–you always have you.
- Be Bold.
College is a new chapter in your life which means a fresh start. Nobody knows you (or maybe only a select few do). You can use this however you like. Reinvent yourself if you want. No one knows how timid you may have been or if you were the social butterfly in high school. Be as bold as you want, or do not want to be, because this is a rare opportunity in your life where you don’t already have expectations on you or a pre-established notion of how you are perceived by others. So go out there and walk up to that group of people that you are admiring from a distance!
- Take breaks.
I am still working on this one myself. Breaks are needed both socially and academically. Know your boundaries. And when you do know them, do not feel guilty in listening to how you feel. You come first. Personally, as an introvert, I know that I like to go out but I also acknowledge that I am not recharging while doing so. So, I find time to be alone when I am drained. Do what you can to avoid burnout by determining if you need time alone to recuperate or need to be out with your friends. Find a balance that works for you.
- Reach out for help.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to not face your first year alone. Talk to your family and friends. Go to therapy. Listen to how you are feeling and work on how you can improve your mental or physical state which are often intertwined. There is no shame in struggling or seeking professional help. Use the resources you have at your college for mental health.
I hope that my knowledge as a nineteen year old girl can help some of you. My friend often reminds me that life is more than just school and that it is okay to prioritize other things. Take that mental health break. Go spend a weekend with your family. Visit that friend you are missing. School will always be there when you get back. College is a time for growth and reflection and that can not exist without failure. Embrace it all because you will find yourself wondering where all the time went.