I guess what they say is true. Time flies fast when you're "having fun", but even faster as you get older. I know I'm only 19, but I can see that with every day that passes.

This past year, I started college and to be completely honest with you, I was not expecting it to go how it did. It was bumpy at many times, and still is (finals season is coming up soon, so you can see why that makes sense). But I wasn't expecting the mental growth that came with the passing of this year. I definitely tried to expand my horizons and reach out, and that didn't always work out, but in some cases, it has and I'm excited to continue on those horizons next semester. Most of the mental growth can be attributed to learning how to study differently, actually having to muster the willpower to attend my classes, and being left 100% responsible for my own well-being. The hard science and math classes I have had to endure are definitely strength-testers, and there have been many times where I've contemplated just giving up (interpret that however you wish- you probably won't be far from the truth no matter how you do). Sure, there are endless resources on campus for me to reach out to if I'm drowning, but no one is really watching over me and so in some instances, that has translated to both some healthy practices and unhealthy practices.

Let's start with the former. Now that I don't have to structure my life based on a pre-determined school day schedule, I can literally do whatever I want, whenever I want. That might seem pretty obvious to most people, but for me, that's a whole new world. Look at it from my point of view. Not only am I an only child, but I also am one of the most ridiculous goodie two shoes; I don't like conflicts with authority, even though I'm quick to snap back when I feel like the situation is wrongly structured. Also, when I say I can do "whatever I want", don't let your mind wander too far. I'm referring to things like going on random walks, walking the trails on campus at Lake Herrick, walking into random practice rooms at the music school to play some simple chords on a baby grand...super nerdy things, I know. I'm also talking about midnight Snellebrations, random trips downtown to the CVS and the Bubble Cafe or to window shop at Native America. But previously (and still sometimes now), I feel like I didn't have the freedom and the independence to do that. Sure, I still feel trapped because I can't do much off-campus since I don't have a way to transport myself that doesn't involve my mom and her cute red Honda Fit that she drives at 30 miles an hour even on the Loop.

For the unhealthy things, also don't let your mind wander too far. I'm already a horribly picky eater when it comes to food, so imagine someone not forcing me to eat three meals a day, like you're supposed to. I've gotten into a horrible habit of just completely skipping meals, sometimes even going the whole day before even eating a snack. It's not that I don't have access to food- it's just that nothing really compels me to keep going. If I'm honest, I only eat to stay awake and not faint, which are more things that are last resorts for a body to signal that it has to eat.

But apart from these minute healthy vs unhealthy lessons I've learned, I've just appreciated not having to consider things beyond this first year. By this time next year, I'll probably be in full-time test prep mode for medical school, and I'll have to be balancing a bunch of extracurriculars on my plate, along with my classes, which will certainly not be easier after this year. I'm just in shock that this semester has gone by so fast, and there are definitely a lot of things that I regret not doing or experiencing. But I still have three years or so to make up for a little of that, so here's to hoping this last month of the semester doesn't fly too fast. I need lots of time to prep for those finals, and even more time to temporarily say goodbye to the good friends I've made on campus.