Although they didn’t know it at the time, most first semester freshmen severely struggled. Tossed into a sea of disparity and confusion, freshmen don’t initially know how to act. However, through a series of agonizing trials and painful errors, the first-semester freshman gradually gains their bearings and by second-semester, they are young professionals… sort of.
Take my story for example. First-semester was a true test of my sanity and security as I stumbled through time. Being a very self-sufficient teen, I logistically knew how to take care of myself. I knew I needed to eat three nutritious meals a day, do laundry every other week, and budget my time and money. Unlike many other college freshmen, I already had all of that figured out. Instead, my battles were mostly inside my own head. In all honesty, bouts of anxiety and depression dipped in and out of my life as I experienced the highest highs and lowest lows I have ever ventured through. The harder times consisted of a whole lot of negative emotions and energy which at times spiraled out of control. I didn’t know what my major should be, I hadn’t a clue what to do with my free time, I didn’t know if I really liked my friends, and I convinced myself I was rejected by every group I had joined. All in all, I often felt completely aimless, alone, and denied by my surroundings.
Luckily, along with all of my fellow freshmen, I fought through first-semester on pure survival mode and made it through. Discontent with my group of friends and questioning if I should be involved in the groups I was in, I was more than happy to get away for a few weeks and rejuvenate at home.
Almost overnight, I became aware of why I was so restless and decided that it was simply because I didn’t give anyone enough of a chance. To my astonishment, I started to yearn for my return to school. Near the end of my vacation, I became so excited to go back, looked forward to becoming more integrated into the groups I was in and aimed to gain a sense of which friends I actually liked. My attitude had changed so drastically because I decided that the lifestyle I adopted first-semester was simply no way to live. If I was going to be putting so much of myself into my education so far away from home, I sure as hell was going to enjoy it. Besides that, I vowed to myself that I simply would stop hanging out around people that provoked those familiar feelings of rejection and anxiety, allowing myself to release the uneasy feelings regarding my friend group.
Sure enough, it all worked. I got a job which keeps me busy so I don’t even have the time to concern myself too much with my social life. When I do have free time, I am now more inclined to take a minute to check in with myself and spend the time on me, rather than obsessing about others. Right off the bat, I devoted a lot of my time to analyzing my friend group and have successfully managed to gain an idea of which ones I really get along with, and which ones I don’t particularly fancy. A huge part of this came with the understanding that just because a few individuals in a group don’t exactly vibe with you doesn’t mean the whole group is crummy and should be thrown by the wayside.
So my advice to college freshman is this: don’t wait to start enjoying yourself. You have every right to surround yourself with fun-loving people, and believe it or not, they probably exist right in front of you. You are not stuck for the rest of your life with the mediocre friends you desperately made first-semester. Accept people for who they are and give them a chance. Even if you don’t feel completely comfortable, take solace in the fact that when second-semester rolls around, you will certainly feel way more grounded.