With only one more month until move-in day, I'm sure the other first-time college students will share in my emotions of scared, excited, and nervous. Everyone is constantly asking me if I'm excited, or what I plan to do, or where I'm going to go to school. And while I'm super proud of where I'm going, and I am excited something keeps holding me back. It's a hard feeling to describe, but I like to think it's similar to when you go down a roller coaster and your stomach drops. You're excited but scared at the same time. Now, I've had people tell me there's nothing to be nervous about all my life, but college is a huge step. Not only are we being thrown into an environment where we are forced to rely on ourselves, but we are also on our own, possibly, for the first time. I'll be ten hours away from my home, and for some of you, you may be whole countries away. Take comfort in knowing that thousands of kids across the world are facing the same challenge as you and me and that you're not the only one.
Here is what I've learned through my anxiety about school. First, enjoy every moment at home while you can. You're not going away forever, but the first month may be really hard to not see your mom or your sister. Second, soak up the sun with your friends. You may all be going to different schools, and this could be the last time you're all this close with each other again. Finally, listen to your mom's advice. I know this last one may not go over well with some of you, but it seriously helps. As soon as I said I was scared about school and getting involved and whether people will like me or not, she offered up some really good advice. "Don't stop liking something because you want to be liked by everyone else."
Variations of this have been said by many, many people time and time again, but in the context of getting a fresh start for school, it reminded me that I shouldn't pretend to be anything I'm not. I shouldn't give up band because some people think it's nerdy, I shouldn't leave behind the blanket I've slept with since I was a baby because "it's not cool", and I shouldn't leave my true self at home, and take on a new personality at school because I want to be popular. A lot of people talk about how in college you can re-invent yourself, but I'm not sure I want to. I would rather go through college being true to myself and have five friends than be someone else and have 100.
So as you prepare for school, I implore you to not forget the teddy bear your dad gave you, to not give up on your passion for art or books or sports no matter how "nerdy" or "uncool" others may think they are. You are in school for YOU, not them, and you don't need a fresh start to grow in college. I know now that I'm going to be unapologetically me all four years, and I hope that you will too.