I just finished my last final and I’m currently leaning on a (sharp) corner of my bedpost, surrounded by three boxes almost completely obstructing my dressers, two pillow pets air-drying on a rack, a desk so disorderly it is orderly, and the remnants of things needing to be packed or washed or both.
Freshman year is over! What? I swear, I just got here. Where did all the time (and money) go?
Here are the 10 most important things I’ve learned:
- It takes longer than three weeks to adjust. And that’s totally ok.
I thought after a few weeks, I’d be adjusted to the weather, the workload, and the new city, no problem. People always say college is great, and it is…but no one talks about feeling out of place at first. Especially if you’re going to school far away from home and don’t know a soul. Give everything time; it will work out, I promise!
2. Your people may not be apparent at first, but they are there!
Something else no one ever talks about! It can take a whole semester to find your people. That’s okay. It’s okay to be alone. After all, it’s very possible to be alone in a room full of people. Put yourself out there intentionally. Don’t try to make friends with everyone you make eye contact with. Invest in people you see standing next to you when you’re 50!
3. People come from all walks of life. Learn from them. Keep an open mind.
Confession: I judge people a lot. I think we all do. However, when we do this, we cut out valuable life stories, perspectives, and people. Remember: We don’t have to agree with each other, but we do need to respect each other.
4. Find people who float your same boat. In my case, find people who love Jesus!
I was lucky I found two groups to bounce between: Cru and Navigators! Both are filled with lovely people whom I am so thankful to have met and have had lovely, meaningful conversations with. Find people who help you find conviction in what you believe so that you keep your moral compass (whatever it may be) straight!
5. Being alone isn’t always a bad thing.
I’ve spent a lot of time alone this past year. Alone in my room studying during the week, alone during the weekend, alone during vacations. At the beginning, it was partially because I hadn’t met many people I felt I clicked with, and I felt acutely lonely. Now, I often choose to be alone by choice. For me, it’s a way to disconnect, gather my marbles, do some deep thinking, and enter the community again refreshed.
6. It’s ok if you don’t click with anyone the first week. Or month. Or three months.
It took me a few months to find my first friend who was not my roommate. It took me a whole semester to feel comfortable far away from home. Now, I actually prefer being at school versus being at home, but the feeling didn’t come as quickly as I had anticipated. Give yourself time and a little grace.
7. Get off campus. Do something non-school related.
Explore the city. If your school is suburban or rural, find something fun to do that’s not studying. Just take a break. Be happy. Not studying for a bit is not going to kill you. It may even make you more productive. Plus, books and school aren’t the only things that create a well-educated, culturally adept person.
8. College is a lot of work. More than high school. It’s ok if you feel like you underperformed the first semester. You are not a failure.
You know the saying. We’re not defined by numbers, right? Definitely true, but so hard to believe and to hold onto in the hyper-competitive world we reside in. Know your worth, and know that it comes from within. If more of us start believing that, and internalizing that, I think good stuff would start to happen.
9. Keep in touch with people. Your high school friends, upperclassmen that reached out at the beginning of the year, mentors…
I have a small handful of high school friends I make sure I talk to every week, every two weeks, or text once in a while. I’ve made sure that this past year, I caught up with my FYSOP leader and other mentor-figures who reached out to me when I first came to BU. It’s lovely to see familiar faces.
10. Get involved. Do stuff that puts you in touch with the community, develops your interests etc.
Try everything. You can always stop going to meetings, unsubscribe from the mailing list, stop volunteering, stop going to events. Don’t rob yourself of the opportunity for fun, new experiences, and new friends/acquaintances because you think you don’t have time, or you won’t fit in. This year, the organization I was most intimidated by ended up being one of my favorites, and one that I became quite involved in.
So there is this old alligator’s advice. Of course, we all have our own learning curves and experiences to go through, but hopefully you know: The best is yet to be! (But don’t forget to enjoy the moment.)