In the summer before my freshman year of college, I was outrageously excited. I'm talking spent-the-entire-summer-counting-down-the-days excited. I planned out every single detail: everything from what clubs I would join to how I would organize my desk. My friends often came to me for advice and planning tips because I looked like I knew it all.
As great as it sounds, I think this excitement was part of the reason I was so let down during the first semester. In my mind, freshman year was going to be perfect. I would be on my own, living by my own rules. I'd be able to escape petty high school drama and make new friends. It sounded so good in theory, but I didn't realize that it takes time to adjust.
During my first week at Virginia Tech, I made tons of friends. I was a social butterfly, introducing myself to every girl on my hall and attending all the move-in events. My roommate and I went out to a few parties, too. We ended up with a lot of friends in the beginning. It kind of seemed like we were "living the life."
Life continued to be fun for the first month or so, but reality set in soon after that. The girls on our hall partied constantly and our guy friends joined frats. I'm not hating on Greek life, but they were so absorbed that we didn't see them anymore. I ended up realizing that I didn't like partying at all, and that eliminated a lot of my friends.
People always say, "You don't have to party in college to make friends!" Yeah, I guess they're right. But the truth is that not partying really shrinks the pool. To a lot of people, freshman year is all about gaining your independence and putting yourself out there. I think that's important, but to me it was more about finding myself and planning out my academic future.
Between Fall break and Thanksgiving break, I became very homesick. I wasn't having fun anymore, I hadn't gotten a job and I hadn't joined any clubs. Things definitely weren't going as planned, and that depressed me in a way. College was disappointing me. Not only that, but I was enduring issues with a family member, too. I missed my parents, and I wanted to be home.
This is when I found God. I've been agnostic (to keep it vague) for most of my life, and I never thought that would change. I also never thought I would believe in miracles. I definitely do now. At one of my lowest, saddest points, I found God. And because of that, I had faith. This is personal to me, so I'm not going to go too far into it, but He did help me make it through the rest of the semester.
Thanksgiving break was much needed, but it was short. I dreaded coming back to college. This was around the time of finals, so fortunately, that occupied most of my time. I kept in touch with my parents throughout the remainder of the semester and counted down the days to Christmas break.
A New Attitude
Christmas break was over a month long, so I had a lot of thinking to do before I returned to college. Why wasn't I having fun? Why wasn't college what I thought it would be? Why do I feel the way I do? There was a lot I was confused about, but there was at least one thing I knew for certain: I was going to have a better second semester. I'd make sure of it.
I decided to make a bunch of plans: a workout plan, a healthy eating plan, a bible journaling plan, a pamper routine, etc. I wrote them out in pretty colors on pieces of computer paper and filed them into a binder. I started acting on these little plans during Christmas break. My idea was that if I could have a healthier, happier lifestyle, I'd have more energy and motivation to get involved.
Honestly, it worked. Come January, I applied to be a photographer and interviewer for a club at my college. When I got it, I gained a lot of confidence and momentum. Also in January, I published this blog. Having my own platform to express my thoughts and give advice was the perfect outlet for all my pent up energy. Things were looking up, but I wasn't sure if this would continue during my second semester.
When I came back to college, I was nervous. Again, I began with high expectations and a positive outlook, but I didn't want to be disappointed. It's easy to have plans, but it's not easy to follow through.
It turns out that my second semester was nothing like my first. I got involved by joining more clubs and getting a job. Through the clubs, I finally made friends with similar interests to me. I fit in. Not only that, but I learned how to focus on myself and make sure my mental health was in check. I found that balance, and I think that's the real key to success in college.
I've been busy lately, but I think that's a good thing. Instead of sitting around, sulking in my disappointment, I've been out and about, meeting people and building my professional image. I've declared my major and cognate, and for once, I feel accomplished. I wouldn't feel this way if I didn't choose to make a change.
As of now, I have one week until I go home for the summer. To be honest, I couldn't be more excited to go home; however, this time it's for a different reason. I'm not sad, I'm not lonely and I'm not disappointed. I truly feel like I've succeeded during my freshman year. I exceeded my expectations, and it's really due to a change in attitude. I knew I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities I had, so I did. I'm excited to say I can end with a bang.
I've learned a lot from my freshman year of college, but I want to highlight my most important pieces of advice.
Here are a few things to remember:
I'm not perfect. In fact, I still have a lot to learn; however, I'm constantly improving myself. I'm actively working toward a happier, healthier lifestyle. I've discovered that that's what really matters.
I hope you all enjoyed this more personal insight into my freshman year of college. It was rough at first, but I'm really proud of how it turned out.
Thanks for reading!