Starting your first year of college can be a very exciting experience. It certainly was for me. I was in a new place, three hours from home, surrounded by new people and new opportunities. And initially, I thrived in this new environment. Everywhere I looked there were opportunities to meet new people and create new memories. I made friends fast and spent very little time in my own dorm, and enjoyed every moment of it. But the sunshine and rainbows did not last, and reality had to set in sometime. I quickly realized that while I had met a great deal of new people, not all of them were really, truly, friends. And in my excitement and eagerness to meet new people, I lost touch with my closest friends, my true support system, that I left behind when I came to college.
Fast forward to the present, I spend most nights sitting alone in my dorm, binge-watching "Manifest" or starting my tenth rewatch of "Agents of SHIELD." Occasionally I will go over to my friends across the hall, who are arguably the best friends I have made since arriving on campus. But even so, I have found that I have no true support system here like I did back home. This has forced me to reevaluate what a support system should be and what forms that could take. Which is where I arrived at the conclusion that, maybe, I could be my own support system, instead of relying on other people to give me all of the support I needed.
Becoming your own support system is not easy initially, and even I am still learning how to make it work for myself. Everyone handles taking care of themselves differently. Some people read, some people take up journaling, but for me it was going on walks. When life started becoming more and more stressful, I started going on nightly walks, listening to whichever one of my many playlists fit my mood that night. While this may seem very simple, just putting myself in this routine helped provide a great amount of relief in many ways. Beyond that, there are many mental aspects that can attribute to this task. Positive self-talk, openness to change, and just focusing on yourself and what you need in the moment are all huge factors in being your own support system.
The most difficult part of this process for me was learning that I cannot continue to rely solely on others to give me the support I need. Prior to arriving in this new environment, I had a stable support system that came in the form of the friends I had back home, where we had years of shared experiences to build the foundations of that support system. This lesson that I needed others to support me continues to take the longest to unlearn. This is not to say that it is not helpful to have others support you or that you should not allow others into your support system, but rather that you cannot simply rely solely on others to give you that support at all times.