I think we all know by now that this past school year has been really hard on students. Being a college freshman especially, everyone always tells me how sorry they feel for me — we lost the end of our senior year! We haven't had regular classes in a year! We don't know what the college experience is like!
And every time someone (usually an older adult) starts talking about it to me, I just want to yell "Yeah, I know! This past year has been really hard! I don't need to be reminded!!!"
But besides the many external things I've missed out on, I feel like the things that have changed the most for me have been inside me. I used to be surrounded by constant distractions and responsibilities to complete, but then I had all my time by myself. Throughout the spring and summer, I became used to being at home a lot and even established a little routine for myself. I didn't love being alone with my thoughts so much, but I was somewhere familiar and comfortable.
Then September came and surprise, I was moving on campus! I knew I should have been excited, but I was a nervous wreck. Everyone assured me my worries would melt away once I was there... but that didn't happen. I missed my friends, I missed my girlfriend, I missed my pets and my house and my familiar town.
After about a week at school, I got the feeling that everyone had found their "group" except for me. It's really hard to make friends when you're surrounded by people you don't know anything about. When seeing everyone around me having a good time, I began to wonder what it was I was doing wrong. More so, I wondered what was wrong with me.
In my first semester, I tried my best to find sources of happiness at school, but it was hard to feel like I truly belonged. I had people I talked to a little bit, but no actual friends who asked me to hang out. In early November, I felt so fed up with these feelings that I started to seriously consider transferring schools. It felt disappointing because I was so excited about college, but I had really hit a low point.
However, strangely enough, as soon as I started thinking it was time to leave Oxford, things started to change. I had two girls on my floor have dinner with me, and I started to talk with them more. I joined my first organization (Odyssey!) and finally decided on a major. By the time I went home, I was starting to feel more positive, but I was still unsure of what the rest of the year held for me.
Two months later, I was back on campus, wondering what the spring semester held for me. Spoiler alert: I was a LOT happier this semester. My roommate was also on campus, so I was no longer alone most of the time. Thanks to chatting lots over break, I had strengthened my acquaintances into friendships and met some new people. I was no longer anxious about simply walking to the dining hall and felt like I might just belong here.
Even though I've still had a few low points recently, such as moments with my mental health, I've gotten through them a lot easier and bounced back quickly. As the end of the year approaches, I'm proud of myself for making it to this point. I may not have loved all of it, but I've learned a lot. Sometimes what it takes to heal is just time, and I'm glad I took my time.
This Friday, I'm getting my second vaccination shot, and I feel hopeful to look at what next year may bring me. Time may work in mysterious ways, but with trust in myself and my abilities, I can be prepared for whatever may come.