This time last year I was just finishing up my first semester of college. It's crazy to think about — everything was so different.
As far as academics go, I was in a completely different major that just wasn't a healthy fit for me. I was learning things that were interesting, but I could never really figure out where they applied in my life. I failed my first class ever — which was a hard blow. A lot of the classes I took were gen-eds, so I wasn't entirely invested in them. I would go to class, take notes, go back to my dorm…Stay there until my next class, maybe go to dinner…If I didn't, I'd probably just eat a Poptart and call it good.
I didn't really make any friends. I mean, sure, I made some acquaintances in my classes and on my floor. The only time we talked was in class and it was usually about the homework. They weren't meaningful relationships. I didn't have anything in common with the people in my classes.
I didn't go out much; I was in my dorm room more often than not, and I chalked it up to not having anybody to do anything with. I ordered out a lot, mostly because I hated eating alone. And when I did eat at the dining hall, it was probably cereal or a bagel (so not all that healthy).
It was my first time really away from home, and I struggled. I think it takes a lot of courage to admit it, especially when people have this belief in you that you're going to do well. Struggling seems to be letting them down in some way.
I thought that because I was going to classes almost every day and getting my homework in on time, I was doing fine. But I wasn't thriving.
Being in the major that fit changed that. A new major and a year later — the University of Maine is finally home. Part of me wishes I could stay here over winter break. It's going to be hard to leave for a month, and while I'm excited to go home and see my family and my dog, I'm going to miss being here.
Of course, I'm not going to miss dining hall food or community showers, yet putting up with those things is just a small price to pay to be at the place I love every day.
Things were grim for a while last year; I thought my entire college career was going to be stuck between my dorm room and classrooms. I'm not sure what's different about this year; maybe it's because what I'm doing feels meaningful…I'm not sure.
If you're struggling, it's okay. If you aren't thriving right off, it's okay.
I spent a lot of time feeling bad that I wasn't out and about making the best of my first year. The people I was acquainted with were making friends so quickly, almost instantly. Hearing the laughter in the hallway — I wished I could've been a part of it.
I am now. I think we need to struggle to understand what happiness feels like.