I’ve had a while to reflect on my first year of college and I must say, it was all I expected it to be with some surprises.
All I originally wanted out of the experience was to have the freedom I was never granted while in high school and to escape the toxic environment that was my home. Those two things, I achieved. I was very restricted during my childhood despite being a generally well behaved kid. I was never able to be out late which didn’t allow me to go to parties. I couldn’t express myself through clothing. I wasn’t even allowed to have social media because my dad has an irrational fear of the internet but I had it anyway.
Going to college was one of the best things I could have done because it improved my quality of life drastically. I learned a lot of things about myself and the world around me.
1. I became a more outgoing person
People that know me would say I’m not shy, but I think I mostly was. I wouldn’t speak to people I recognized unless I was spoken to first. Introducing myself to random people was something I could only dream of doing. I knew OF a lot of people but didn’t know them. I made it a goal of mine to change all of these things in college. When I first got on campus I would walk around my dorm building all the time. People would always see me which caused me to quickly become friends with them. I had so many friends at the very beginning of the year already because of twitter too. It had always been easy for me to interact online so I made my presence known among other freshmen before we moved in. My first year experience wouldn’t be what it was if I had remained shy.
2. College is not easy
At least to me. I’m gonna be honest: I was one of the smart kids in school. I took all honors and AP classes and graduated with a good GPA. It felt like it took no effort. High school was a breeze. I wasn’t prepared for how much college was going to demand from me. The first week of classes, I had a mental breakdown. One of the first things we were focusing on in chemistry already had me afraid of how college was going to be. I realized I actually had to study A LOT and classes are lecture style. Learning the material is really on you. My freshman year was definitely a humbling experience.
3. I didn’t know how guys were
I dated the same person throughout high school. I didn’t really know for myself how guys were until college unfortunately. I fell for the upperclassmen that wanted to manipulate younger girls. I fell for manipulation from guys my own age. I just wasn’t used to people not meaning what they say. It sounds like the simplest thing that should be ingrained in you at birth, but it’s an important lesson I learned way too late. I now trust my gut feeling a lot more than I did, I don’t wait around to see the bad outcomes of a situation, and I value actions a lot more than words.
4. I tried new things
I experienced smoking and drinking. I actually drank alcohol before college but I experienced hard liquor during my first year. My first time getting high was the absolute worst. I was tripping out really bad but I was encouraged to try it again and it went well so I continued to do it. My friends and I would have smoke sessions often. I really liked it at first because it made me happy and it brought out a side of me I like to call my alter ego. It lost its luster when I became really depressed which is why I cut back to almost not doing it at all. It wasn’t good for me because I would get really tired and be unable to do any work.
5. Clubbing is wack
I went to the club several times during first semester. The first time was like a culture shock. I thought it was cool but I hated waiting in line for ridiculously long and how crowded it was. I also don’t really dance so if felt like not doing so defeated the purpose. I gave it a chance and continued trying it because I wanted to include myself and see if my experience would be different. I found out it’s only enjoyable if I pregame and its crowded and hot at every venue.
5. I hit rock bottom
I needed it. After a few bad people came and left my life, I had become so angry and bitter. I seemingly just couldn’t win in any area of my life. Around January and February, I hit a wall. I really decided I was tired of the same outcome and I had to take control of everything. My grades were suffering because of how sad I was and I was tired of interacting with anyone. I started to actively fight my depression and anxiety instead of accepting it was just how I had to be forever. Because of my anxiety, I had a fear of eating alone. I don’t know why but its always been a different kind of awkwardness for me. It sounds weird but to get over it, I started spending all my time alone to escape the feeling of needing others. I religiously went to the cafe with the intentions of eating alone but if someone else wanted to eat with me, I allowed it. I also went to the library every night by myself. I became so used to my schedule and so happy in my own company. I’m glad I now know how to appreciate the company of others, but not be in need of it. My depression also greatly improved during this time. I still have my moments but it’s not as bad. I needed to hit my lowest point in life to realize that I’m the type of person who is hard headed. I won’t change my ways until trauma forces me to. I became such a stronger person after building myself up from the ground.
I’d have to say, my freshman year was a time of major growth.