Anxious and sweaty from a last-minute trip to Walmart to purchase duct tape because I forgot to label my belongings is how I arrived on Xavier’s campus. Despite knowing in my heart Xavier was the place for me and being a self-identified extrovert, I was still feeling timid as I opened the car in front of Buenger, especially as the Manresa Move Crew all screamed hello in my face.
Fast-forward to exactly a month later and I’m sitting in a classroom in Alter doing homework speaking with my friends about how some first years look like they’re twelve but that we could pass for sophomores, maybe even juniors. While I know well enough that I certainly look like a freshman, wide-eyed and unprepared for everything college invokes. I am left wondering about a first-year’s experience.
From having older siblings, watching the season of Gilmore Girls where Rory goes to college and hearing endless warning stories from my college counselors in high school, I already felt that I had been to college before I even started. Parties, studying, late night random roomie chats were narratives constantly explored in the popular media. TV shows, movies, and books all detailed the big overarching themes of transiting to college: making new friends, being uncomfortable, and the importance of time management.
(from left to right: Sophia Gentile ’23, Adrienne Nguyen-Storer ’23, Larkin Thomas ’23, Naomi Jackson ’23)
Although there are a few logistics people forgot to tell me! Like giving your stomach a good two weeks to adjust to the café food. Every first-year I spoke to has detailed the sudden change in their bathroom habits, especially how often they were going. How about realizing no one has any personal hygiene habits because everyone is suffering from the stuffy nose and itchy eyes. I should mention I am currently writing this with a head cold and can’t breathe through my nose. Needless to say, I might be resentful and biased.
And then there is the conundrum of validation. When everything and everyone around is new is it natural to overcompensate? New clothes, new environment, new challenges. These ingredients all combine to make you instantly start doubting everything you believe in. Now, while I have always had a strong sense of self, even coming to college made me wonder and doubt what I was doing. Given this change in attitude, it makes sense when you hear the horror stories of students who go flying off the edge upon gaining their first taste of freedom. I have witnessed my fair share of flying after my parents dropped me a month ago. Can this action of going flying be dialogued as overcompensating because the sudden newness brings all your insecurities to the surface?
While no one will deny that the transition to college is hard I am left strategizing about how not to fall into this trap of craving validation. I am not above feeling anxious about wanting and making friends, but my main case is that it shouldn’t be all your thoughts or fill your Instagram feed. So far I have been reminding myself of what I am grateful for, what qualities about myself I like, and the things I don’t want to do.
So now here I am. Happy and still adapting. Wish me luck as I continue the hunt for a set routine, try to motivate myself to make the hike to O’Connor, and find Café food I like that’s not from the bakery.