Going to college is a weird experience. You leave home and go to a brand-new place, and you are expected to live there for the next four years. Your first roommate could be a stranger. So many possible ways that it could go wrong... and you are expected to not freak out. I certainly did.

Freshman year, I began studying computer science, a field that I knew nothing about. I did not know anyone on campus. My family was also moving, which meant that I would have a new ‘home’ to go to. It was the biggest change I had experienced in life so far. I felt completely lost. My roommate was super sweet, I made amazing friends, and I started dating my first real boyfriend. I joined an amazing sorority.

But despite all of that, I was constantly thrown in this loop of “Who am I?". In high school, I sang in choirs and performed in musicals. I listened to music and played video games when I had the time, though mostly I worked on homework and studied. I was in honors and AP classes and doing well in them. I walked out the door every morning with my hair in a messy bun – no effort required.

Now I'm in college, and I don’t have the chance to sing anymore. I don't have time to play video games. I’m stuck in classes that are unlike anything I have had before. I stress about my looks. I straighten my hair every day and put on makeup that I used to not even know existed. Everything was different, and before I knew it, I was drowning. I fell behind in my classes because I was stuck in my head.

I don't remember freshman year that well. I started classes with excitement and adrenaline but ended on academic probation. I went from first honors to failure. This failure was devastating, but it was important in my growth as a person. Winter break gave me a lot of time to reflect on myself, and I knew what to do.

It took a lot of analyzing my situation to figure out how to fix the hole I had dug myself into. I had to look at my past to see what I had done before. I remember the summer after high school graduation being the best time of my life. Why was that? It was a combination of confidence and freedom. I no longer cared what others thought of me. I officially knew where I was headed, and it gave me the ability to start being myself. I was ready to move on. I was on top of the world and nothing could hold me back.

These thoughts helped me to find what I had to do. I went back to wearing sweatpants and feeling confident. I put my headphones in for my walk to class, and the music was the soundtrack of my life. Spring semester of my first year, I was a different person. I was able to keep up in classes and stay on top of the game. At the end of the year, I was off probation and then some. This began my climb to where I am now.

I am now a Junior, and I’m proud to say that college has changed me. It has given me independence, responsibility, and the chance to rediscover the woman I am. I feel confident in my own skin. I feel confident in my knowledge. I have found the strength to move on from the challenging transition into college life. At the end of the day, I’m depending on myself for happiness. College has given me that luxury.

For all of you who are stuck in the semester you want to forget or the year you don’t know how to move on from, take the time for YOU. The awful truth is that college will suck the life right out of you sometimes, but how you learn from it and move on is what will define your success. Free yourself from the past and move on.

Figure out what you wish you had. List the factors of your personality and history to answer the question "What makes me... me?". Don’t be afraid to lay it all down on that list. Maybe you have strayed from the person you used to be but remember that you can’t lose who you are forever. Never be afraid to get help if you don’t know where to go or what to do. You will thank yourself later, I promise. You are amazing. You will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.