I have seven classes and I’m struggling in just about all of them. My work schedule is crazy and my sorority has been pounding me with time-consuming events. My room is a disaster and I haven’t slept in days. I have finals coming up and papers due in almost every class. My life is actually a mess. And yet I’ve never been happier.

With two weeks until the end of the school year, everything I do is becoming ~nostalgic~. Every time I go to the library, eat at the dining hall, or go to class, I get a little sad to leave everything behind for a few months. These are all things college kids typically cannot wait to forget about for the summer, but for me, college represents the truest and purest form of myself.

Coming into college, I was excited. I was ready to leave high school behind and step right into my next adventure. The first few weeks of school, I was LOVING life. But then the newness and excitement wore off. The honeymoon period was over. I was making friends, but I didn’t feel any real connections. I was having fun, but I wasn’t having the time of my life like everyone said I would. Things, people, and experiences weren’t coming naturally anymore like they did at the beginning of the school year.

I didn’t realize it at first, but it was because I wasn’t trying. Unlike high school where friendships were just passed from year to year, being alone meant I had to make an effort. If I wanted to have friends, I would have to go out and make them. As obvious as that sounds, it was a difficult realization. Acting on this, I joined a few clubs, played on an intramural sports team, and became part of a sorority.

The more I surrounded myself with people, the more I became comfortable with putting myself out there. Once I involved myself on campus, those feelings of natural attainment came rushing back. As I made deeper and deeper connections, I became more and more satisfied.

Comparing myself now to who I was ten months ago, absolutely nothing is the same. As cheesy as this sounds, before coming to college, I was never able to truly be myself. Being in the same friend group for years in high school, it was hard to change my role. My place was a reflection of who I was when I was younger, and even though I had changed as a person, my friends perspective of me never did.

There was never anything horrible about that, but it’s hard to flourish when nobody can really recognize who you are. But in college, I was not automatically set to a status quo. I could be who I wanted. For the first time in years, I had the ability to choose how I wanted to be seen. I was free to paint my own persona.

And I knew that I wanted to be seen as nobody but myself. By being myself, my friendships are authentic and genuine. I’m not afraid to be myself EVER because there’s no one I have to pretend for. I surrounded myself with AMAZING people who double as both my best friends and biggest role models.

As I became involved on campus and continued to make friends, I became more and more confident. Confidence was never something I was full of and it has given me so many opportunities to grow. I became comfortable with who I was, which I can now say is the most important part of life.

Confidence goes a long way. It’s not just being able to talk to people easier. It’s knowing what I stand for and not backing down just because someone tells me to. It’s speaking up for myself and not being afraid to speak up for others. Confidence isn’t the ability to be fearless. It’s the ability to be fearlessly authentic. It’s knowing my worth. It’s being able to rock my quirkiness. It’s being strong enough to empower others. It’s being brave enough to break down boundaries and take risks.

So yes, my life is a mess. But at the same time, everything is exactly where I want it to be. Throughout these past ten months, I’ve become the person I’ve always looked up to. My friends took a little while to find, but they’re the type of friends I would wait a million years for. School is difficult, but I’m head over heels for my major and class is something I always look forward to. Time is hard to come by right now, but if I survived the past ten months, I can survive the next week.

This year has been a total roller coaster, but after realizing who I am and what all I can amount to, I have full faith and trust that everything will always work out. I’m simply along for the ride. So to the incoming freshman reading this, don’t worry. If life isn’t everything you want it to be right now, in just a few short months you will have the world at your fingertips.

My advice to you, never be anything less than yourself, don’t forget to put in the extra effort, and remember that just because your life is a mess doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect.