October 14, 2016. I pull up to my house and check the mail like I do every day. I open the mailbox and find my acceptance letter from Louisiana State University. I immediately go inside and get a picture to post on my Instagram because it's an essential social media post these days. My parents are not completely convinced yet because of some financial concerns, but once I opened the acceptance letter, I knew I would be in Baton Rouge the following fall.
Fast forward about two months and I receive my score report from my most recent attempt on the ACT test. I finally scored high enough to earn a more substantial scholarship from LSU to help pay my tuition. At this point, I am certain I will attend LSU and not have to worry much about the price of tuition.
Nine months later I stand in my dorm room with my mom, dad, and sister as we unpack my belongings and arrange my room for the start of freshman year. I expected to gain some knowledge from classes and meet some new friends throughout the year, but I did not expect I would actually change as a person.
Throughout my first semester, I met some new friends, got involved in some clubs and activities on campus, and tried various Louisiana foods which definitely contributed to my freshman 15. I enjoyed my new "home" at LSU, especially during Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium, but I felt something was missing in my whole college experience.
In December I made the seven-hour drive back to my home in central Texas. I was able to catch up with friends and family I had not seen in several months, which was comforting. However, at some point during the break, I decided I needed to go back to school in January and take a different approach to college. Ultimately, I wanted to make myself take more risks and become more social.
At some point in January, I received an email about participating in a leadership program for freshmen and sophomores at LSU. I decided to give it a try and I eventually met some new friends and gained some new knowledge on how to develop as a leader. The program required me to step out of my comfort zone, which was the spark I needed to begin the spring semester.
Weeks later, I landed a manager position with the LSU women's basketball team. This position once again took me out of my comfort zone and helped me develop some additional communication and responsibility skills. I met some new people and even matured a little as I worked with the team throughout the remainder of the semester. The position was even more special because it provided me with some experience in the field I want to work in later on.
During the spring I also started going out more with my roommate. I learned to let myself relax and just enjoy living in the moment while I sang along to Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, and many others on those Friday and Saturday nights at Mike's. I also met some new friends by going out, so I began to have more social connections on campus.
Later on in the semester, I got a spot on the homecoming committee and I earned a spot in student government as the assistant director of athletics. These positions along with everything else I was involved with just continued to help me grow my personal skills. I could tell I was more social than at the beginning of the semester and I was definitely more willing to try new things.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned from this previous semester is to enjoy your time in college and realize the little things are important. Those drives around Baton Rouge at 11 p.m. with the windows down and music blaring are what college is about. It's also a time to develop your own skills and make memories you can tell your spouse and children about in the future. This is the reason I chose LSU because I thought I could make memories and meet some amazing people all while learning from the exceptional faculty.
I still recall my first night in the dorm. I sat on my bed and wondered if I had made the right decision by choosing LSU. I think back on that moment now and just laugh. At the end of the spring semester, I was honestly sad because I had to leave the college life behind and come home for a few months. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a few chances, which in turn created a new college experience I don't want to leave. The good news is I have three more years.