It's the end of April. You're studying for your AP exams, going to graduation practice, starting to clean out your locker, and dreaming of college during every monotonous, pointless lecture you have to listen to during your final days of senior year. Trust me, I know; I've been there. I thought I was so ready for college: the independence, the fun, and the freedom I'd experience for the next four years of my life.
It's the end of April. I'm starting to pack up my dorm room, beginning to study for my finals, and spending as much time with my friends as I can before I have to leave them for the next three months. And you know what? As I reflect on my first year of college, I'm starting to realize that I wasn't ready. At the beginning of the school year, I thought I was ready for everything freshman year had to offer. However, eight months later, I'm understanding that I was wrong. And you may think that you're different than me and that you're much more ready to get out of your hometown and go to college than I ever was, but hear me out.
You're not ready for your first night alone in your dorm. Let's face it, your roommate is going to either stay the night with a friend, shack with a boy, or go home at some point within the first few months. And no matter how brave or independent you think you are, getting in bed for the first time in your dorm room without another person six feet away from you is terrifying. Every branch hitting the window sounds like someone breaking into your room, and you begin to realize that your fear of the dark never went away. Your parents aren't down the hall or downstairs, and this was my first realization that I would actually be alone for the next eight months of my life.
You're not ready for your first time getting sick at college. Being sick at home is something I know you take for granted. But when you're lying in your lofted bed alone in your dorm room, you start to miss your mom's back scratches and homemade soup more than ever.
You're not ready for your first football game. You think you know what to expect, but trust me, you have no idea. And while you may be reading this thinking, "it's just a football game," you honestly have no idea what you're getting yourself into. From the fun tailgates to the roar of the crowd when the team runs out to the playing of your school's alma mater, this is the first time you're gonna realize just how much you love your school and how badly you never want to leave.
You're not ready for your first time back home. The worst part about coming home for the first time, whether it's for a weekend or Thanksgiving break, is that home doesn't feel like home anymore. Your living room might be painted a different color, you're completely unfamiliar with your family's new schedules, and you feel like a guest staying at home. While it's great that you're in love with your new school, it's heartbreaking to know that home doesn't exactly feel like home anymore.
You're not ready for midterms and finals. That's all I have to say about that.
You're not ready for the moment when you realize your best friends from first semester might not be your best friends after all. People change. And although you may think that the girls you hung out with 24/7 in October or the boys you played intramural soccer with will be your best friends for the rest of your college career, you might be wrong. It sucks, believe me, but it's a part of college that can't be avoided.
You're not ready for the day you look in the mirror and realize that you actually gained weight. You may think you're an invincible high school athlete who is too fit to ever gain the Freshman 15. Yeah, I thought that too. Those were the days...
You're not ready to say goodbye to your roommate. Although I haven't necessarily reached this point of my freshman year, I'm dreading it. Whether or not you adore your roommate (like I luckily do), saying goodbye is going to suck. They experience you at your best and worst and can be one of the greatest friends you make freshman year. Don't neglect that opportunity.
You're not ready to say goodbye to freshman year. I'm almost brought to tears every time I think of the day this May when I have to pull out of my campus for the last time. From the people you meet to the experiences you have, everything about freshman year is incredible, and having to leave it for three months and never come back to the full experience will probably be the hardest thing I have to go through this year. Freshman year has been the greatest year of my life, and although I've said some tough goodbyes, this one might be the hardest one yet.
So while you're sitting in your AP Calculus class dreaming of your future days at UGA, Auburn, Furman, NYU, or wherever you may go, stop and realize that the time you have at home with your friends and family is limited. College is incredible, but I can assure you that you're not as ready as you think you are.