Do not let anyone fool you that they had an "amazing first year" at college. All of us experience highs and lows, but as a society, we have a tendency to only focus on the good. We don't want to acknowledge the bad and show weakness, but we all experience low periods of our lives. What really is the deciding factor is how we handle these situations.
Temple University is my home away from home, and it took until the middle of my second semester to realize that. I mean, I literally cried when my mom and I were driving back to Pittsburgh just because I knew how much I would miss college. If you would have asked me how I was feeling at the end of my first semester, I probably wouldn't have had the same reaction.
For me, I struggled the most with being homesick and trying to maintain friendships I thought were meaningful. Moving so far away from home and attending a big school where nobody I knew went, I felt like I made a bad decision.
It also didn't help I had people in life that were telling me I made a bad decision by moving to North Philadelphia. It messed with me so much I really didn't embrace my college at first.
I went to the Tech Center so much just because it was a room filled with other people. My roommate and I didn't get along, so it wasn't like I had someone to vent to about the social challenges I was facing. I had a few friends that I hung out with, but I felt like I was missing out. I didn't really party my first semester just because I didn't want to be the girl who came by herself. It felt kind of pathetic to me.
With today's technology, it should have been easy to keep in contact with old classmates and friends. I could have FaceTimed with my friends, looked on Facebook and Snapchat for updates on their lives, and liked their pictures on Instagram just to stay in the loop. I tried, believe me.
In reality, it didn't work that way. I felt like I was missing out and just missed home. I was somewhere new with no one really to help me adjust. It sucked hearing about all the memories my "friends" were creating with classmates who went to the same school and staying in contact with everyone. I wanted to come home. They were achieving amazing things while I was having problems landing positions.
I had people back home who talked down on my achievements. From the moment I announced I was going to Temple, I was warned left and right about how dangerous North Philly was (spoiler: it's not that bad). I also was advised I would end up moving back home after my first year. I came from a very negative hometown that never has supported anyone or anything that is different. I was letting their doubts fill my mind
Starting in mid October, I felt very depressed. I've always struggled with my mental health, but it felt like I had hit an all time low. I called my mom crying a lot. I tried going to my school's counseling services, but they believed I wasn't adjusting because of my sexuality and referred me to numerous LGBTQ+ groups on campus and therapy programs.
That wasn't the problem. I just felt alone. It wasn't because I was uncomfortable with myself. I just didn't feel like I belonged on campus. I felt like coming to Temple was too big over my head.
All of the emotions I was feeling got so bad that I impulsively submitted a transfer application to the University of Pittsburgh. I filled out all the forms, paid all the fees, and submitted my transcript from Temple. I just wanted to be somewhere I was familiar with and knew I would be okay. My whole childhood, I grew up near the University of Pittsburgh so it felt like it was becoming my best option.
I was so wrong. My mother told me I wasn't allowed to transfer anywhere until the end of my freshman year, if that was what I really wanted. However, she made me promise to continue to pursue every opportunity I can and give Temple my 100%.
Maybe it is a bit overdramatic, but joining a sorority saved my life. After my breakdown and a long conversation with my parents, I decided to go out for formal recruitment. I would at least find something to do on campus and a reason to stay. I mean, I fell in love with Temple the first time I came here, so there had to be something that could make me stay.
Now I have a group of friends that encourage me to be the best version of myself. I have sisters I can turn towards in moments of crisis. I have a big who is literally like the big sister I've never had. I began to feel at home.
So for anyone who is a bit nervous about their first semester of college, it will be rough. You will have moments where you will doubt if you made the right decision. However, you cannot let the days that are bad take over the bigger picture. Everyone has bad days, but it is really all about how we handle these days.
In all honesty, if I had just sat back and relaxed rather than letting my anxiety take over, I probably wouldn't have considered transferring or allowing people's doubts to control my mindset. Temple University is my home away from home, and it took until the middle of my second semester to realize that.
If I can get through my rough patch, so can you. Go ahead and embrace all that your freshman year has to offer, even the bad times. It's all worth it in the end, I promise.