I suppose it would be most appropriate explaining where I have been these past months. Did anything drastic happen to me? Where was I? What on earth could I be doing?
These past few months have been a time of reflection, of attempting to find balance. Being in college has been an incredible journey, that has allowed me to grow as an individual. College has allowed me the opportunity for independence, and choices. I have the choice of who I want to be, how I want to act, what I am going to say, what I’m going to study, who my friends are, what clubs and activities I am involved in. And to be completely honest, having that kind of power is refreshing but also kind of terrifying. In high school, everything was structured – it was a general curriculum that everyone followed: English, History, Math, Science, Gym, etc.
When I finally arrived on campus as a freshman, I was excited and nervous. What exactly was the college experience? So many people had told me I would love it. That I would enjoy it. That college is the best four years of one’s life.
I felt pressure to have the ideal first year experience. I felt that if I didn’t have the perfect first year experience, it meant that I did something wrong. That somehow I failed – that I was the oddball. But as I talk to more and more people, I realize that each first year experience is different and unique. There is no one “stereo-typical” experience.
For me, as a total introvert and generally shy person, I was scared about putting myself out there but made myself become outgoing anyway. In a way, this kind of backfired. I was able to make connections during my first week or so of college, but it tired me out quickly. Being outgoing and social, fluttering from one social circle to another was exhausting to me. Staying in my room during the weekend to study and do homework instead of going out wasn’t me. It just wasn’t who I was.
And to accept that fact was difficult for me. I felt like in a way, not being extroverted and outgoing, meant that somehow my first year experience was ruined. That I was a failure.
As a sophomore now in college, I look back to my first year and ask myself the question: was my first year experience okay? How would I rate it?
While at first there was definitely a transition from high school to college, once I found my niche – my groove, I did well. I found that I enjoyed smaller groups of friends, that I’d rather enjoy having one or two close friends, that I enjoyed spending time with them by watching movies and playing board games. I learned that joining clubs that genuinely interested me – not because my friend signed up – allowed me to meet others who also had those same interests. In fact, joining a club is such a powerful way to make connections and forge friendships.
At times, I wish that first year me could have instantly understood that each first year experience is different, that as long as you enjoy and own your experience – then it’s okay. But then again, learning and growing to understand that, coming to terms with it, has allowed me to mature as an individual – and maybe that’s what the college experience is all about.
What do you think? Leave your comments below!