Most big events in life come with a set of our own fabricated expectations. Take your wedding day for instance. You dream about it as a little girl, you plan it out as a young teenager. The dress, the music, the cake, the person. You make a beautiful fantasy in your head, and this fantasy becomes the "bar," or the ornate expectation constructed by your own brain. The problem is that things hardly ever go according to our fantasies.
I mean this in the worst and best of ways.
For me, my grand and ambitious expectations were for my life as a college student. I had a fantasy. Since my freshman year of high school, I dreamed about living in a dorm filled with people who would soon be my life-long friends. I dreamt about traveling the country as a college athlete and making memories that would last a lifetime. In my mind, it would all be perfect. I progressively got more and more excited to leave. I thought I was so ready.
Here's what I didn't know.
1. You're going to miss home, even if you think you won't.
We all have something that makes it hard to leave. It may be bigger for some than others. I left behind my parents, my three brothers, a giant group of best friends, two dogs and a home state I didn't realize how much I loved. I was shocked to find when I got here that not everyone had such great friends at home, not everyone even had good relationships with their families. I was lucky. But regardless, everybody misses something. It might just be the privacy of your own room, your queen size bed, actual good food or your pets. It's normal to feel this way, and important to acknowledge it.
2. It's OK if you don't make a million friends on the first day.
Everyone always told me how fast you make friends in college. That may be true for some people, but not everyone is the same. For me, it took a little more time. I had an extremely close friend group at home, and in my mind, nothing could ever parallel that. I was very closed off for the first couple months, and I'm just starting to open up a bit more. And that is OK. Give it time and don't force anything.
3. At times you might feel too "stupid" for college.
You're not. The truth is, college just requires more work than high school. If you don't put in the time, of course you are going to feel confused and frustrated. Finding a concrete study routine changed everything for me. (And coffee never hurts either.)
4. You're going to feel sick pretty much all the time first semester.
This is just the reality of being a college freshman. I think I had a cold from the week I moved in in August until December. Being in a confined environment with thousands of people from all different parts of the world, eating strictly dining hall food and getting little to no sleep will do this to you. Eventually, your body will adjust to the new environment, but until then just know that it's normal. There is (most likely) nothing outrageously wrong with you.
Safe to say, I am a dreamer. I've been told that's a blessing, but I've sometimes perceived it to be just the opposite. My mind has the tendency to make everything seem perfectly rosy and wonderful. Unfortunately, life does not always have that same tendency. It's taken more than a couple crushed expectations for me to realize that things hardly turn out like we will imagine they will.
But that's OK. Sometimes things turn out even better than we imagined they would, and that's a beautiful thing.
Time can change everything if we allow it to, and I'm so glad that I did. So don't give up if you feel any of these things I felt first semester, or if you had grand expectations that were rudely crushed. You will get there, but any big change like this requires some time, a whole lot of bravery and like three coffees a day. And above all, don't stop imagining things, because sometimes that's the only thing that keeps us going.