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to senior girls: my post-freshman year thoughts

My freshman year is coming to an end, and I’ve realized that nearly everything I thought about college was wrong.

Thank goodness.

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When I was planning for college, I thought I had everything figured out. I’d get the perfect roommate, the perfect dorm furniture and pinterest-inspired everything and it would all look like a magazine. I thought I’d be poor and hungry, struggling to get by. I thought my friends I met the first day would become my best friends forever. Honestly, a boyfriend was the furthest thing from my mind back then. I thought that the food options would lead me to a bagel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I thought I’d have no time between classes and organizations. I thought I would struggle to find out where I fit in and if I could even find organizations for my interests and hobbies and ideals. I thought that classes would be boring until I “got into” my major. I thought it would be scary.

I was wrong.

My room is a mess. It never had a color scheme; I never take my trash out until it’s nearly flowing onto my carpet. I have clothes on every surface. But it’s home. This little dorm room has become my bedroom, kitchen, study room, dance floor… you name it. It’s not pretty, but it’s mine.

I thought my roommate would be my best friend forever, but I live alone now. We both changed and found happiness in other ways, people, and spaces. But that’s okay. College is about growth, finding yourself, and learning how to make tough decisions that benefit you. Having a roommate first semester was awesome, though, and I definitely love the memories we shared during that time.

I thought I’d constantly be worrying about paying for fun things or how to get by without online shopping. (gasp!) But I got a job. It’s not glamorous, but I learn from it. And I have awesome coworkers. I make it work with my schedule, and I pay for my own things. “Adulting” is a real thing, folks.

The people I met the first day are not my friends today. They are now acquaintances, or floor-mates, but my best friends are the ones that came easily and stayed. They appreciate me for me. Dance parties, pizza rolls, too many clothes… all of it. (And I can happily add, most of them will be living with me next year!) These people have truly lifted me up and made me a better person.

If you would have told me, at this time last year, that I’d have a boyfriend right now… I probably would have laughed in your face. But he’s great, makes me laugh, and has been an awesome addition to my freshman year.

I was so scared, as a picky eater, that I’d have nothing to eat. Instead, the food options feel like the refrigerator door. You just have to open it up, dig around, and mix and match combinations. When in doubt, go off campus. 🙂

I was worried about time management. As an organizer by nature, I took the time to color code my schedule and map out all the buildings. What I didn’t realize is that it takes about 3 minutes to walk to that building, or 7 for that one, or 5 for that one. It’s now down to a science. I didn’t realize that an hour for lunch is the perfect amount of time to meet up with a friend and talk about life. I didn’t realize that 12am is the perfect bed time. (Well, maybe not, but we can try.)

I thought I would struggle to fit in and become a part of something that I enjoyed and that benefitted me personally. Instead, I’ve become so involved across campus and I couldn’t be happier. Whether its honors, Students’ Association, an awesome late-night intramural volleyball team, political activism, dance club, major-specific clubs… it’s nearly impossible to feel lost. Your hobbies and ideals and dreams are shared by others, I promise.

I honestly dreaded any and all of my general education credits. I thought that I would be bored out of my mind or challenged extremely. Instead, one of my favorite classes was a Human Geography class. Of course, my math and science requirements have been less exhilarating, but I’ve made friends in the classes that make them much more enjoyable. However, the classes that are in my major are wonderful and applicable. It’s an awesome feeling to be learning about something that you’re passionate enough about to dedicate your life to.

I thought it would be scary, and you probably do too.

Let me tell you this: you are ready to conquer the world, and this is your first step. It can be scary, but it is so exciting and so worth it. You are at a crossroads. You are ready to choose your path and grow tremendously. I’m excited for you.

Get ready, because it’s coming so much sooner than you know it. And then you’ll blink and you’ll be in my shoes. This year has flown by, but thankfully I have a million memories to occupy my thoughts as I wait until fall to make more here at this university that has become home.

You have about 4 months until you begin..get ready to be wrong.

I was, and I’m so glad that was the case.

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I hope that this brings you peace of mind, excitement, and hope.

 

 

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right in the feels

Emotions, or feelings, are not everyone’s favorite thing to talk about.

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But…The past few weeks in my honors interpersonal communications course, we’ve dedicated our time to learning about, expressing our own, and understanding others’ emotions.

I’ve always known that I’m an emotional person. I have always thought that I wore my heart on my sleeve and my emotions were fairly easy for others to understand, to read. During this three-week exercise, however, I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself and others in my class and even beyond the classroom doors.

Each person in my class was assigned to find a short video that portrayed either how they react to/handle/express emotion, or a video that made them feel a certain emotion. However, we were told to simply find a video that we could explain how it fit the theme. It was a fairly wide topic, I thought nothing of the complexity of this task while sifting through youtube and then my own brain to find a video. In the breadth of this topic, I soon found, each of my classmates found a different perspective.

Several of my classmates found humor the best way to handle emotions and emotion situations. Many others evoked feelings with music; from “Fight Song” to “Cough Syrup” to “Over the Rainbow” to “Concrete Angel” to “Brave” to “If Today Was Your Last Day” —  all of these songs had powerful meaning, some of which I had never before thought about or experienced when hearing that song. The videos, too, held powerful messages packed full with emotion. Another classmate simply attached a satisfying video of a sponge reacting to water being poured on it. He explained that he, like the sponge, soaks up the emotions of those around him and then internalizes all of it. Another spoke about letting emotions out via physical activity and camaraderie on his football team. Another explained how when visiting Greece, she experienced feelings in a place and that place now holds deep emotional meaning for her. Another included a video, entitled “I Don’t Understand God” about how faith is unwavering even throughout confusion and hurt. He explained his desire to be a pastor, and how his faith allows him to feel and express emotion. Another disclosed his depression. Another, her ADD. Myself, my PTSD. Another, his battle with cancer throughout high school. Another, whose routine surgery gone wrong may have left her unable to have children.

Each of us feels, experiences, and discloses emotion differently. For some, it was difficult to stand up and admit to their feelings or their struggles. Others spoke openly.

I always thought that I wore my heart on  my sleeve with my emotions. Some of this, I’ll admit, is true. I cried during many of my classmates presentations. However, I also realized that, like so many of my classmates, my struggle with PTSD may seem well hidden. I’m a positive person, who feels many positive emotions each day. But I struggle, I fall down, I cry. I had no idea that my classmates, who’ve been in my class all semester, had dealt with the issues that they had the courage to speak about during these presentations. It made me realize that we are truly never alone.

What I also realized: emotions are sneaky. They sneak up behind you, they sneak into your mind. You can’t even control which ones end up ‘on your sleeves’.

I have gained so much respect for my classmates. I enjoyed getting to see their perspectives on life and struggle and happiness and all the things in between.

This exercise truly opened my eyes to the depth of what every single person feels. We all feel different things, care about different things, get hurt by different things, feel happiness from different things. If there’s one thing that college has done for me, it has sure opened my mind and my heart to other people’s differences.

My (amazing) professor ended the lesson with these words, “I guess that’s why I don’t like adults as much as my students. Adults get hard. They lose that capacity to understand and appreciate and challenge themselves with others who are different from them. Don’t lose that, folks. That’s a beautiful thing.” 

New Challenge: Accept that others feel as deeply as you do. Open your eyes and your heart. Don’t be afraid to feel.

A friend of mine has recently been struggling, and she has questioned everything she has been feeling. I caught myself saying to her, “You have every right to feel everything you feel.”

You really do.

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and here’s me and my cat snuggling.

…sometimes that’s all you need when you’re feeling emotional.

always,

alex.