The feeling of being out of place is not uncommon for college students. You are thrown into a world filled with people at all different stages of their life and it can get intimidating. I hadn’t thought through what all college was going to expose me to. I had attended school with some of the same people since kindergarten. I was just excited about making new friends. I was nowhere prepared for what was in store.
“Check your privilege at that door”
The minute someone said that during our discussion of class rules and etiquette, I knew I was well over my head. This class was not what I signed up for nor was it one I wanted to sit through for the next 16 weeks. I sat there in silence for the rest of the class period counting down the minutes until I could run back to my room and fill in my roommate on how awful my life has become. Did I forget to mention that the class is three hours long? Needless to say, that first class took what felt like a million years and I knew that it would take a whole lot of convincing from my roommate, multiple pieces of Dove chocolate, and my favorite peach tea to get me to go back to that class a week later.
Growing up in a small conservative town, everyone had genuinely the same ideas and morals. I always loved dreaming about what it would be like to live in a big city with all the different people and different cultures. It was a dream so far fetch from my own little piece of heaven that I knew it would never happen. The closest thing to experiencing the big city and all it had to offer was college. I knew that I wanted to go to college and be able to experience the real world. Growing up in a town with a population around 2,000, it feels like you are trapped in a bubble where all the problems the rest of the country and world are dealing with really never pertain to you nor do you have to deal with the controversial consequences of them. Attending college was finally my chance to experience and see what my little bubble protected me from.
Fast forward to my first day of class where I was told to check my privilege at the door. First off, no one likes to think about what privilege you obtain or in what ways you are oppressed (both topics I had to discuss in a journal for class). I was thrown into a shark tank filled with experts on topics I had never had to deal with or discuss in my life such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ Rights, Feminism, etc. I sat in class and thought to myself “Everything I have ever held to a high standard of truth was just thrown to the ground and stomped on.” I was overwhelmed with emotion and felt as though I didn’t know who I even was. The way I was raised was being contradicted by the course material that is supposed to help prepare me for the rest of my life.
I left the classroom unsure of what my next step was. As it turns out, I was not prepared for college. That three-hour class destroyed every ounce of self-confidence I had built up to make my transition to college easy. For the first couple of weeks of class, I dreaded going in fear that I would say something wrong and offend someone or I wouldn’t be able follow the class because the topic we were discussing wasn’t one I had ever heard about. It wasn’t until I came to a journal entry were we had to write how we felt were doing in the class. I was brutally honest and said, “Everything we have talked about goes directly against everything I have ever been taught. I am afraid to talk and state my opinion because I think I am the only one who feels the same way I do.” When I received my journal grade back, I had a comment from my teacher and she told me that was so happy I had stuck the class out and she wanted me to feel comfortable speaking up in class because the way I viewed these topics would allow us to have intelligent conversations as a class.
This moment turned the entire class experience a whole 180 degrees from the week before. I finally felt confident walking to class because I knew I was confident in my morals, my views, and I wasn’t ashamed for how I was raised. College is all about finding yourself. Little did I know that taking a class on a topic I knew nothing about would help me realize everything I needed to know. This is what I have learned through this experience:
- Night classes are a challenge of their own.
- NEVER be afraid to tell your professor how the material you are learning is affecting you. They are here to be your friends, not make your life miserable.
- Talk to your classmates. Bets are; other people have the same views on you. (I didn’t find this out until week 6 of the class and it has made a world of difference. I finally have people I can talk to that can keep me grounded when the material has thrown me all over the place.)
- Talk to your parents and family members. Tell them about the experience and ask if they have any advice to make your class go smoother.
- Just because someone views a topic differently than you, does not mean you cannot be friends with them. Some of the best friendships are the ones that you can discuss intense things and you may just learn something from them.
- Don’t get down on yourself if you feel like you can’t talk during a discussion. Not everyone debate you are going to feel comfortable talking in and that’s OK!!! Take the time to compose yourself and kill the next one.
College is a once in a lifetime experience. Make the most of it and don’t let one class ruin your mindset. If you stick true to your beliefs and aren’t afraid to stand up and fight for how you see something, you will more successful than you could ever imagine.