As my assignments dwindle to a number I can count on my fingers and finals week gets closer and closer, I can't help but marvel at how much has changed since the beginning of the semester. Because at the beginning of this semester, I was ready to transfer.
My mom was the one who pointed out I wasn't happy at the college I thought I had chosen so carefully. She could tell just by our weekly phone calls. Maybe moms are just like that, or maybe it was so obvious I was the only one who couldn't see it. (That happens sometimes too.)
I knew I had been feeling down, but I never would have thought it might be because of my school. It's not like I had picked my college on a whim. I did my research. I took tours and met professors. It should have been a good fit.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized my mom was right. I didn't feel like I was a part of the community at my college, something that had been so central to my high school career. I only had a small group of friends, and was in barely any clubs at that point. Maybe the school really wasn't a good fit. And if that was true, that was a good reason to consider transferring.
But my mom also pointed out that I hadn't really given the school a fair chance. And she was right about that too.
First semester of my Freshman year I did all the right things. I found a group of friends. I found a job. I got involved with the school paper, and I worked hard in all my classes. I loved college. Or rather, I loved being on my own, just like all Freshmen do.
But second semester things started to change. We all started to realize that this was permanent. Living away from our parents and making our own decisions was the new norm. This hit some of my friends really hard. Combine that with winter in western New York and everyone ends up with a bad case of seasonal depression.
I had taken on the role of counselor in my friend group during our first semester, but all of a sudden people's problems were a lot more serious. And then the problems at home started. And then the guy I thought was my best friend treated me like crap and refused to apologize. And needless to say I got a little overwhelmed.
So I started to withdraw into myself. Unable to deal with my friends' problems, I started to distance myself from them. I dropped most of the clubs I had joined. This lasted into first semester of my Sophomore year, until eventually I was doing the bare minimum. I went to work. I went to class. I sang with the Chorale group I had joined Freshman year, and I wrote weekly articles for the school paper. But that was it.
I'm all for re-evaluating life decisions. Which yes, might sometimes lead to withdrawing from a class, or even transferring schools. You've got to do what's right for you.
But I'm not a quitter.
If I didn't at least try to find my place at my college before transferring, well, then, I would have been quitting.
So I made a plan.
I would join another club to branch out my friend group. I would try new things, including applying for campus jobs, scholarships, and honor societies. I even decided to take six classes, because, being the nerd that I am, I figured that was another way to meet people. Especially in a class like Advanced Statistics, where you've all pretty much got to band together to make it through.
And at the end of all that, if I still wasn't happy, then I could transfer.
But first I had to stick with the plan. Even when it was tough. Even when I was uncomfortable. Even on my shyest days, and even on the days I didn't even want to get out of bed.
And it worked. In just one semester things started looking up. I made new friends at work and in class. I was accepted into an honor society and got a second job. I even made it on to the staff of my school paper.
There are still things I don't love about my college, but that's going to be true anywhere you go. No place is going to be a perfect fit, so you have to make a place where you fit perfectly. I made my place at my college. I'm doing things that make me happy, with people who make me happy. So I'm staying.
It took me awhile to figure this college thing out. Three whole semesters to be exact. Which might be a little longer than most. But if I, a painfully shy individual, can, then you can too.
We're in those weird weeks between Easter break and Summer. We got to see our friends at home and now we miss them more than ever. The stress levels are high, and it's easy to get homesick.
Happiness is much more of a choice then we realize, though. If you make an effort to find happiness where you are, you might just be surprised by how easy it is.
If you try and things still don't work? Then make the change. And do so knowing it was for the right reasons.