My freshmen year of college is coming to a close in only four short weeks. I would love to sit here and tell you that my first year was everything I had hoped it would be. I would love to tell you that I went out every weekend, made a ton of friends, and had the time of my life since moving here in August. But I can't tell you any of these things because they simply aren't true.
This year has been an absolute roller coaster, filled with more downs than ups. In high school I was known, at least from what I have been told, as this really happy and bubbly person who never let anything get her down. Of course I had my bad days, everyone does, but I laughed and smiled through any pain I endured. I was a member of my high school marching band. I took all advanced classes and made the honor role every year. I had a big friend group and a best friend I saw every single day. I was an editor-in-chief of my school newspaper and won awards over the years for my writing. Writing is my true calling, I have found.
There are a few things I was absolutely sure of throughout high school. I knew who I was. I knew what I did and did not like. I was confident in myself and my beliefs. I knew what I wanted to do for a career and where I wanted to attend college. I knew I was outgoing and fun, yet loved spending my Friday nights sitting on the couch with my mom watching "Game of Thrones."
Another thing I was really sure of was the man I wanted to be with. This might sound crazy, but falling in love with your best friend when you knew you couldn't have him was something that happened to me. But then, something really amazing happened. I did get to have him, eventually.
You would think that after getting into my dream school and dating that man I've always wanted to be with, that my first year of college should have been absolutely perfect. It was at first, but about two months into the year, I broke down.
After weeks of staying up until 3 a.m. working on homework every night, missing my family and boyfriend back home, not having my best friend with me every day, and feeling as though I had too many extracurricular activities on my plate, one night in October, I had a complete breakdown.
I called my parents crying ballistically. I felt as though my whole life was collapsing, when it really wasn't. I had good grades, I had my boyfriend supporting me, and I was making a few friends. However, my brain simply couldn't take all the change at once.
My life had completely changed, seemingly overnight, and I couldn't handle it. I went into shutdown mode. I treated everyone around me, including my family and boyfriend, awfully. I would have panic attacks almost four times a day. I would cry every day because I could not understand what was wrong with me.
Eventually, things got better. The panic attacks stopped, my worry was gone, and I was living my life again. But this was only for a few weeks. And it was in late February/March. Almost five months since it had started. The past two weeks, it started back up again. I had to go to the doctor because I was seriously convinced that there was something psychologically wrong with me.
But here's the thing I realized: There's nothing wrong with me.
The only thing that was wrong was my frame of mine. I was so convinced that I was going to come to college and adjust perfectly. I would get perfect grades and get perfect sleep and make a whole new group of friends right away and I would just be this perfect college girl. I wanted to do every activity possible and be as busy as possible. I wanted to go out to parties and do dumb stuff even though I knew in my heart that I hated parties and night life.
I am here to tell you that my freshman year was FULL of trial and error. It was full of emotional breakdowns and anger and frustration and hatred and stress. And it is OK.
I realized, over the last few days, that there really was nothing wrong with me. I put too much on myself. Everything changed too fast. I couldn't handle it. And instead of being kinder to myself and loosening the reigns a bit, I kept pushing. I pushed myself into a breakdown.
Be kind to yourself. Just because you don't do a thousand extracurriculars your first semester does not make you a failure. Just because you don't make a ton of friends as soon as possible does not mean that you are unlikeable. Just because you are feeling overwhelmed does not mean that there is anything wrong with you.
Just because your freshmen year didn't go as planned, does not mean that you did anything wrong.
Take a yoga class. Quit your campus job. Try meditation. Plan out your days better. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy. Exercise. Just breathe. Do what you need to do in order to get through the rest of the year. Just because it was a bad year does not mean that you live a bad life or that all of college will be like this.
Use this year as a learning experience. Take it from someone who practically killed herself with panic attacks for months on end. You are doing just fine.
Your future is going to be wonderful. One day you are going to graduate and have a degree and get a job and marry and have kids. Stop killing yourself over worry and stress.
From here on out, I just want to be happy. I want to love my boyfriend. I want to get decent sleep. I want to enjoy my time with my family and friends. I want to live, and live well. And I hope that you can realize that everything is going to be OK. Take a breather. Live. Be yourself.
Don't worry, just be happy from here on out.