After a long, hard first two semesters at college, I am finally admitting to myself and to many of my friends around me that my first year of college was miserable. I’m not a negative person and I am genuinely optimistic, but I was unhappy. I was unhappy for many reasons that I didn’t understand at the time, but now I have mapped most of them out and all I can say is that not enjoying college your freshman year is completely normal and okay.
Reality check: your first year of college might not end up being the glamorous new life that you see all over social media. I got caught in a cycle where I didn’t know who to turn to or where to go, let alone who I was, because I was stuck in my cubicle of a dorm with people who I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. So here are some tips to incoming freshmen, or just people who need a little comfort in their rainy-day of a first year of college.
Your mental and physical health are more important than class will ever be.
College is scary because when you attend your classes of the first week of school, all your teachers basically say “there are no excused absences, except for deaths or sports.” I don’t know about anybody else, but that scared me. I get sick a lot and I was sure as hell not excited to be going to class throwing up or with a fever.
This is a reminder that if you are sick with the flu, sick to your stomach, or just in need of a personal day, take one for yourself. I have found that going to class when I was feeling down made me unhappier than before! If anything, it would make me more stressed out. There is no homework assignment, test, or participation grade that is worth more than your mental or physical health, so give yourself some time to snuggle up in your bed and watch “She’s the Man.” Your future self will thank you later, I promise.
You’re not supposed to stay in touch with every one of your high school “best” friends.
My dad used to always tell me that not everybody is supposed to stay in your life and that friends will come and go. Little did I know how right he actually was; I have lost so many amazing, strong friendships that I thought would remain strong in college, but have been long gone since I moved out here the first week. Although this is sad at times and you will miss those friends, this makes it easier for more people to enter your life who might actually benefit you more in the long run than others from your past. I always like to think about the quote “4 quarters are better than 100 pennies,” because it is so right.
I’m guilty of spreading myself thin, and I’m now thankful that the friendships that have actually stayed strong in college are fewer than I thought, because they have gotten stronger than they ever could be if I still caught up with people who simply did not matter.
It’s okay to miss how things used to be.
A lot of the time this past year I’ve found myself reminiscing about old memories and missing people who most definitely don’t think about me as much as I think about them. Sometimes I’ve had a really hard time accepting that, but I’ve finally realized that it’s okay. It’s okay to miss old things and miss people who meant the world to you and old memories and feelings and laughs, but what’s not okay is to dwell on how things will never go back to how they were.
There comes a time when you have to smile and be thankful for the memories and fun times that you have been given and most especially the people who have crossed your path, both good and bad, and realize that there are so many times to come that should inspire you to keep pushing and stay excited for new experiences and people to meet.
And finally, keep pushing.
On your hardest days, wake up and keep pushing. This is easier said than done — trust me. But if I have learned anything in college so far, it’s that you have the power to decide how your day is going to go. Wake up, take a deep breath, and say that you are going to have a great day. All that counts is your attitude.
Keep pushing for the people who don’t get the chance to have an education. Keep pushing for the parents, friends, and mentors who have believed in you for all of these years. Keep pushing for that moment when you stand on stage and receive your college degree. But most of all, keep pushing for yourself, because only you will know what it took to stand there in all of your glory and smile, because you made it out just fine.