I know exactly how you are feeling. You’re in an unfamiliar, overwhelming place. You’re always surrounded with people but somehow you’ve never felt so alone. You’ve never had such wild nights and been involved with such engaging academics, but you miss your family, your dog, your bed, and your life back when you were OK. As I tell everyone, college is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me.
Everyone seems to be doing great and excelling in their social lives and academic interests. However, this is just a social media induced illusion. I have yet to meet a freshman that is simply OK. Let that provide you with solace in that literally everyone is struggling too. Here are some simple things you can do to relieve some of that cooped up anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with being a freshman in college.
1. Stop and talk real with a friend for a minute.
It may feel as though you have only acquaintances and no friends here, but you’d be surprised how far these “acquaintances” would go for you. Ask someone you’re most close to how they’ve been feeling. Then share how you’ve been feeling. Chances are, they are just as lost, confused and anxious as you are, if not more so and they are willing to listen. You are not alone.
2. Go outside.
It doesn’t matter if it’s snowing, raining, hailing, night or day, just get outside for a second and breath some fresh air. Our dorm rooms can feel pretty restrictive at times, so notice all the space that is surrounding you and breathe it in. You have space.
3. Call mom or dad or grandpa or grandma or auntie or tio.
Call an adult back home and be completely honest with them. Tell them how you’re feeling and really listen to their response and advice. It is understandable for you to want to automatically reject the idea of you getting along with them or them being able to help you but if you give them the chance, you may be surprised. Accept their wisdom. You have people supporting you.
4. Open your blinds.
Let the natural light shine through. Let it brighten your day both literally and figuratively. You aren’t stuck in the dark.
5. Get off campus.
Go do homework at a cafe somewhere else. Take a hike. Explore a park. Get out of your campus’s bubble and experience something new. You aren’t trapped.
6. Do something alone.
Enjoy your uninterrupted thoughts. In the chaos of frantically making friends, sometimes we forget how to be alone. Don’t be afraid to venture off campus or even just go to the dining hall alone. Nobody is judging you. In fact, the few people who even notice would probably applaud you for being so confident. It’s OK to be alone.
7. Go to sleep.
In a world where almost everyone is not getting enough sleep, it is almost certain that a few hours or even just minutes of shut-eye can help your mind feel clearer and enhance your ability to focus. Even though you may not want to believe it, sleep deprivation makes it seem as though everything is falling apart. Even if your mind is too busy to allow you to fall into slumber, just resting can be really helpful. You can be revived.
8. Put things in perspective.
You are in college and that’s huge. You are getting a superb education that many people cannot afford. Understand that you are so incredibly lucky to be where you are and that although it may be painful and difficult now, getting through it will only get easier. Once you get through it, you’ll be set for success. You are in a great place.
9. Forget the pressure.
Don’t drink if you don’t want to. Don’t declare a major you don’t want to. Don’t do anything just because it is what your family or friends think you should do. You are in college for you. You are faced with massive decisions every day and the thought of your career seems to be looming over you. Forget about all that because a lot of these decisions may not need to be made yet and the answers to them may seem clearer farther down the line. Give it time and relax. You have options.
Get some exercise. Have a dance party. Go to the gym. Take a walk. Do something to get your body moving and your blood pumping. Not only will it help take your mind off things, but it will also make you feel worlds better. You are okay.