I’m in the thick of my second week of classes, and I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. Ways to study, make new, long-term friendships and approach living on my own (correction: with three, albeit wonderful, roommates) remain a mystery. My life right now is fluid – constantly evolving. Every smile may come a wave of tears; every laugh may come a longing for home. I never know where each moment, decision and action will take me.
Many hide their moments of weakness by jumping into the craziness of what college has to offer. There are constantly club events, parties, nights out, readings to do and people to meet. Though, when the craziness dies down, they’re left with scared and vulnerable thoughts. The only way to get out of them is to talk it through with a friend, advisor, RA, family member, etc. Keeping in insecurities and fears about the future only builds up negative feelings and thought. Sometimes you can’t help thinking: “College sucks.”
It really doesn’t, though. In my first two weeks, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (my hero) talked to my student organization at the Supreme Court, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations came from NYC to speak to my program, I’ve met so many passionate, wonderful and hilarious people, learned about my passions from incredible professors, and explored D.C. to the point that it already feels like home. It’s hard to think that I’ve only been here for two weeks. I’ve already been pushed out of my comfort zone and exposed to different, exciting experiences. I can’t imagine all the things I will see and accomplish during my four years here. It’s thrilling.
I know I made the right choice about where to go for college. Coming into this new and challenging life change, I was terrified that I wouldn’t – that nothing would fall into place and I’d ultimately be alone. What I’ve learned, though, is that everyone feels insecure and terrified. People generally cling to familiarity and routine, but it’s brave to say that you want to establish something new for yourself. Having the opportunity to do so also makes you extremely privileged and fortunate.
Even so, depending on your campus culture, it can be hard to avoid things that you normally wouldn’t do. Peer pressure is definitely strong the first week of college because all of us have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), or are just desperate to fit in. One of the most important lessons I learned my first week of college is to be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things and branch out of your comfort zone. However, also try to make sure that you are happy and proud of the person you are the next day. If not, that’s completely okay, but it’s a sign for you that something isn’t right. The great part is that, in college, you have complete agency over who you spend time with, what you study, and how involved you get. It’s always possible to change or re-establish priorities.
Your first weeks in college will be an emotional rollercoaster of interesting classes, meeting countless new people, exploring your new home, and figuring out how you can make the most of your four years. It’s a beautiful, exciting mess that every freshman goes through together, meaning that you are never alone – even in the scary, insecure moments.
Keep shining, loving, and spreading joy.