College Will Change You, And That's OK

College Will Change You, And That's OK

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.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Lorenzen

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A Letter To My Freshman Dorm Room As I Pack Up My Things

Somehow a 15' x 12' room became a home.

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Dear Geary 411,

With your creaky beds, concrete walls, and mismatched tile floors, you are easily overlooked as just another room we were randomly assigned to— but you were different. Inside your old walls, I have made some of the best memories of my life that I will hold on to forever.

Thank you for welcoming my neighbors in with open arms who quickly became friends who didn't knock and walked in like you were their own.

I feel like an apology is needed.

We're sorry for blaring the music so loud while getting ready and acting like we can actually sing when, in reality, we know we can't. Sorry for the dance parties that got a bit out of control and ended with us standing on the desks. Sorry for the cases of the late-night giggles that came out of nowhere and just would not go away. Sorry for the homesick cries and the "I failed my test" cries and the "I'm dropping out" cries. We're sorry for hating you at first. All we saw was a tiny and insanely hot room, we had no idea what you would bring to us.

Thank you for providing me with memories of my first college friends and college experiences.

As I stand at the door looking at the bare room that I first walked into nine months ago I see so much more than just a room. I see lots and lots of dinners being eaten at the desks filled with stories of our days. I see three girls sitting on the floor laughing at God knows what. I see late night ice cream runs and dance battles. I see long nights of homework and much-needed naps. Most importantly, I look at the bed and see a girl who sat and watched her parents leave in August and was absolutely terrified, and as I lock you up for the last time today, I am so proud of who that terrified girl is now and how much she has grown.

Thank you for being a space where I could grow, where I was tested physically, mentally and emotionally and for being my home for a year.

Sincerely,

A girl who is sad to go

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When Was The Last Time You Were Alive?

If you can't post it for everyone to see, was it truly a remarkable moment?

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Being alive is an essentially effortless act.

In theory, as long as you're eating food, drinking water, and performing as a human, assuming no major health conditions, most of us are living.

The tragedy I see most often is so very few of us are alive.

Now, I'm not suggesting you drop your textbooks and sprint up a mountain, or go broke trying to find yourself in new activities and events.

That's the illusion pressed onto so many of us. Social Media, more importantly, FOMO, has taught us that in order to truly be alive we need to make sure we travel far and wide, eat gourmet and unique food, and essentially, immerse ourselves in something phenomenal. However, regardless of what you do- don't do it without an audience and the value of your experience will only be justified by the number of likes you accrue on your #bestvacation ever because you #lovenature. With your back to the camera and wispy hair flowing in the beach air, you hit all of your angles, how else will you prove that you're alive to Instagram?

I fell for this too. I spent so much of my life constantly trying to get to the next phase life had to offer. High school was fun, but I was counting the days until graduation. Growing up in a small hometown wasn't awful, but I had sticky note calendars until my next vacation. And day in and day out, events would happen all around me that were just too "normal." I wasn't alive, but I was living.

Setting your soul on fire and truly living is so much more difficult than you could ever expect, but not because you have to drain savings and take along a buddy to snap all the perfect moments.

Choosing to be alive is realizing how important it is to be in this moment or phase in life and accepting it for all its worth. Instead of racing to the finish line or trying to sprint into your next season of assumed happiness, take time to notice all the beautiful and small things that make this moment so important. There is so much life to be found in simple moments.

Semesters are ending, we are all racing to summer. Perhaps in the process, take note of the routine cafeteria worker that constantly smiles at you and says hello. Or perhaps, giggle at the fact that in just a few short weeks that bus driver you see every single morning won't be apart of your morning routine.

The farther I get from what used to be my normal, the more I miss that season of life. I haven't lived in my hometown since I was eighteen, but I miss the simplicity that came with my drives to high school listening to Kanye West and the coziness of a small town opening its doors to start a new day. I never stopped to be alive in those moments, I was just simply living.

Wherever your next phase of life might be, it will always be there. You will always have something else coming. However, once this moment is gone. It's truly gone. Don't waste beautiful views trying to capture just the right picture for Instagram, take in the moment.

Living and experiencing life can be as simple as trusting that you're exactly where you need to be in life. Cherish each moment as you're in it. The next moment is coming whether you're ready or not.

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