My Freshman Year is Coming to an End, and I couldn’t be Happier Looking at the Person I’ve Become

My Freshman Year is Coming to an End, and I couldn’t be Happier Looking at the Person I’ve Become

A Year of Change, Self-Exploration, and Craziness
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Clara Comiskey

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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