Nobody could have prepared me for how different junior year of college would be. I really hope that I’m not the only one feeling the mixed emotions of wishing I could start over again and wanting to finish classes as quickly as I can.
As I start this second half of my college experience, I have a million thoughts going through my head, but before getting to those, I'll explain my first half of college.
Freshman year was a whirlwind of excitement, nerves, new experiences, emotional breakdowns, new friendships, learning to be on my own, figuring out how to feed myself—the basics. Being away from home for the first time was both the best and worst feeling. I loved the freedom, don’t get me wrong, but I was also terrified I’d somehow mess it up. I was so irrationally nervous that I’d be that student who would have a nervous breakdown and end up dropping out, having no other option but to go back home.
No worries, that definitely did not happen. What did happen, though, was that I made life-long friends, declared my major, found a part-time job (or three), and made unforgettable memories. I changed more during my freshman year of college than any other year before, and definitely in a good way. With those changes came a multitude of ups and downs, but every experience had a purpose and helped me to transition into the all-so-new college life. I wouldn’t trade my freshman year for anything, it was without a doubt a one-of-a-kind experience.
Now onto sophomore year of college. Again, an entirely different story than the year before. This time around, I was coming off of a summer where I’d gone back home, but only to get my “fill” of home before going back to college. I’d say at this point, college still wasn’t my home, but soon enough it would be. My hometown would always hold a special place in my heart, but I was laying down roots for myself in a new city. I already had college friends I was dying to get back to. I knew exactly what to expect when it came to my classes, I was involved in three different student groups on campus, I had a boyfriend at school to support me, and I was already used to the whole "being on my own" deal. The best thing about sophomore year was that I could have fun without feeling like “real life” was quickly approaching. I felt like I had all the time in the world before I even had to let myself think about what came after graduation. Sophomore year was one of the best and worst years of college, but I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way. I learned a lot about myself during this year, and I don’t regret a single part of it.
I am currently in the first month of my junior year of college and I can already tell it’s going to be different. I’m living in a new building, some of my friends have started more full-time jobs, there’s very few things that seem “new” to me, and suddenly the new freshman class seems so much younger than they did last year. All these new things aren’t bad, just different.
I know I am crossing the halfway point of college, but that also means I have two years left. For someone who loves to be around people constantly and doesn’t mind school, college is actually the perfect place for me. And while I'm in no rush to get out, suddenly, I can start to see the start of 'real life' out on the horizon. I have time, yet it feels so close.
Although this year feels very different, it's a sign I’m growing up and preparing for the adult world. I guess that isn’t a bad thing, but it’s definitely a little scary. Realizing that in two short years I’ll have to find a job, a place to live, friends outside of school, a church, possibly move—it’s intimidating. I don’t feel anywhere near ready, but I don’t need to—not yet anyway.
The funny thing about college is things seem to somehow fall into place without any of us realizing it. College is meant to prepare us for being on our own, and it definitely does that. So yes, I’m worried, but I’m also excited that this year feels so different, because if I were stuck in freshman year of college for the rest of my life, I think I would go insane—despite how much I loved pulling all-nighters, spontaneous trips downtown and pushing my assignments to the absolute very last minute.
Two years is a long time, so for any college juniors feeling like the end is nearing quickly, stop, take a deep breath, and remember that 730 days is a very long time. Nobody is expecting you to have your entire future figured out today.
So here's to a great second half of college, I'm ready for you.