I’ll never forget my first night. Mom and Dad were on their way back to the comfort of my quiet little home town, a place I yearned for so deeply. Lying in my minuscule dorm room bed, with the hum of the fan soothing my racing heart, I stared at the ceiling and it hit me. For the first time in my life, I was completely on my own. It was just me now in the big city of Ann Arbor, a jittery little freshman with an eagerness to explore every corner. Here I was, starting the first day of the rest of my life. Then I froze. I thought to myself, where do I even start? If I only knew then the places my mind would travel to, the memories to come that continue to make me laugh until tears floor my eyes, and the people who would be there every step of the way, I would stop. I would stop mid track and look around me because days turn into months and now here we are, at the end of a short-lived era. The unfamiliar butterflies each day of freshman year brought have faded, but it’s not over. It’s just beginning.
Leave The Expectations Behind.
With social media dictating our minds and creative outlooks, incoming students think they know it all. They do, because Facebook pictures tell the whole story of what it means to be a college freshman, right? Wrong. Be unique. Daydream, and let your mind wander to the many possibilities of being the new kids on campus. It’s comforting to come into college with a network of friends. We all love knowing familiar faces, as it makes the transition smooth and easy. However, don’t stop there. You owe it to yourself to meet everyone and anyone around you. I promise, you don’t know everything there is to know before stepping on campus, and that’s the best part. Let yourself be surprised by what college brings. Ignorance truly is bliss.
Change is Good.
If you come from a small town like myself, a city will amaze you. Even a small city will dazzle your eyes, with its rows and rows of restaurants, stores, movie theaters, and endless opportunities on each street. Don’t be scared to be risky, and take advantage of your college atmosphere. How will you know what you like until you’ve tried everything? Being a freshman is like opening the doors to Dylan’s Candy Bar. There’s an entire story of sweets and chocolates to choose from, but you don’t want to pick the same Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup you always do. Try out classes your high school would never offer, meet people from all over the country, and most importantly, get involved in something you’ve never even heard of before. Find a passion, and never stop exploring. College goes by too fast to have regrets about what could have been.
To the friends who love me for all my quirks, thank you. To the teachers who accepted my creativity and pushed me beyond my safe and familiar boundaries, thank you. To the people who stayed true to themselves no matter what was thrown their way, I respect you. Never change who you are for anybody. College is a playground for people to discover their true selves, so don’t waste it trying to be someone else. In the midst of a huge transition in your life, make time for yourself. Having personal time is just as important in the efforts to build character as being surrounded by loved ones. No matter what you do, do it with pride. College can be messy at times, and you don’t always have to be the best version of yourself, just the true version.
Finally, close your eyes and take a breath. Take a second and smile because making it through freshman year is something to be proud of. However, as I sit in the library approaching my last exam, I remember the place I’m leaving and people I won’t see for months and sadness fills my heart. Don’t rush through the year, always looking forward to the next big event everyone raves about. Due to the college workload, weekends feel like a gift. However, they run out fast and you’ll miss Monday nights spend studying and taking down Insomnia Cookies with friends. Approach each day with optimism, and fill it with only things that make you happy. There’s just no time for anything else. I say my final goodbyes, but really, this is just the beginning. Until next time, Michigan.