My Freshman Year of College: The Truth

My freshman year gave me more than new friends and knowledge–  it also helped me find a passion. I was able to fuel my interest in helping those in need around me. I was able to spend a lot of my time giving back to my community and it fulfilled me. It was also nice being able to be around other people who loved to volunteer as well because you should always surround yourself with positive influences.

A few weeks ago, I officially finished my freshman year of college, and it was great.

Now that’s not a phrase I ever imagined myself saying. Mostly because I’m a first generation college student and even though I’ve always known that I wanted to be a college student, I was never entirely sure if it was an achievable goal for me. I don’t come from a necessarily prosperous family and I didn’t really have much guidance when it came to choosing which college would be my future home, but I went with my gut and decided to go to a college that was three hours away from my home in a town that I had never even visited before.

So, it’s safe to say that I was petrified when I first walked onto that campus. I only had one friend, I was unsure of my major, and I was gut-wrenchingly homesick within the matter of hours. On my first day of orientation, I actually locked myself into the communal bathroom in my hall and cried for fifteen minutes just because I was so unsure if I was meant to be a college student.

I didn’t understand so many things, like dorm etiquette and how to get my roommate to like me and what is the best way to buy text books and should I get involved in clubs and if so which clubs should I join and there were just— so many questions that I was too terrified to ask anyone because I was too embarrassed to own up to the fact that I was not nearly as well-versed in the intricate workings of college like how everyone else appeared to be. I missed my friends, my family, my dog. I missed having the security of being at home.

And I stayed that way for, I don’t know, the first few weeks? The feeling of homesickness was just so difficult to get rid of. And I was so upset with myself for not being happier at college because I worked so hard to get where I was and then for a while I wasn’t even that secure in my decision. I wanted to talk to someone about how lost I felt, but I was too ashamed. I didn’t want people to see that I wasn’t as strong as I had let on.

But then, I hit a point where I decided to stop wallowing in the feeling of homesickness and take the leap to do more than go to college and actually enjoy college. I stopped spending all of my time in my room and made myself branch out. I went to the events that were held for freshmen to make us feel more welcome, and I asked around to see which clubs people recommended. I ended up being intrigued into joining two different organizations: a leadership club for freshmen and a sorority.

Joining these two different organizations changed my college experience in ways that I can’t explain. I surrounded myself with people who pushed me to be better versions of myself. They motivated me to do community service, meet new people, and maintain my GPA. The mixture of these clubs also helped me meet people from all across campus and even get familiar with the new city I was living in. I found myself in a new community filled with so many loving, passionate people who have so much greatness destined for them that it made me feel like I was destined for greatness too.

I still got homesick at times, and I even had a few close loved ones pass away over the course of my first semester. But since I branched out and formed close relationships on campus, I was able to find people to lean on during the hard times.

If I didn’t have them, I would have definitely dropped out after my first midterms. And not even because I had bad grades or anything, but because I would have still felt so miserably alone and homesick.

My freshman year gave me more than new friends and knowledge–  it also helped me find a passion. I was able to fuel my interest in helping those in need around me. I was able to spend a lot of my time giving back to my community and it fulfilled me. It was also nice being able to be around other people who loved to volunteer as well because you should always surround yourself with positive influences.

And these positive influences helped me push myself during my second semester. I found the confidence to run for positions in both of my organizations and ended up getting places in both. I was able to help more with community service in my sorority and somehow was given the position of president of my leadership club. I tried to set a good example to others during that second semester and push everyone else to get involved too because of how rewarding the experience can be. I found myself realizing how much I have grown as a leader and just as a person in general during my first year at college, and I realized I wanted to help others grow too.

During this time, I also had a few other experiences like trying sushi and going to an art museum and just living life with less fear than I had before college. I went from a girl who was terrified of living the simple comfort of her home in the country to a woman that was embracing all of the possibilities the city had to offer. I knew that I was changing, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t scared of the change.

I feel like college pushed me in so many ways to want to do more, to be more, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I made so many new lifelong friends, challenged my old mindsets, and grew as a leader in ways I cannot describe. I know that I had a rough patch in the start, but I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything.

And I can only hope that my sophomore year of college is just as amazing as this year.

I hope that you enjoyed this little journal entry of sorts. Feel free to share what your college experience was like! Be sure to like, comment, and follow! 

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Woes of a Child Prodigy

They told me I was smart, they told me that I was destined for greatness. All because I bubbled in correct answers on a standardized test. I understand that she said those things to motivate me, to push me onto the correct path. But all she really did was put an obscene amount of stress on a child’s shoulders. My teachers, family, and classmates looked at me like I was ‘advanced,’ and I believed it. I took every word that she said to heart and tried to be the prodigy that she painted me out to be.

But what she forgot to forewarn me of is that every human inevitably has to fail.

When I was six years old, I was pulled out of my math class and was told that I was ‘special.’

They talked about my subpar test scores, and for the first time in my life I had the mentality that I was supposed to be perfect drilled in my head. My teacher spoke to me in words that were too large for my young self to fully understand, but I walked out of her small office with an entirely new outlook on life.

They told me I was smart, they told me that I was destined for greatness. All because I bubbled in correct answers on a standardized test. I understand that she said those things to motivate me, to push me onto the correct path. But all she really did was put an obscene amount of stress on a child’s shoulders. My teachers, family, and classmates looked at me like I was ‘advanced,’ and I believed it. I took every word that she said to heart and tried to be the prodigy that she painted me out to be.

But what she forgot to forewarn me of is that every human inevitably has to fail.

Everybody screws up, that is just part of life. But when you are told from a very young age that you are special and above average, failure simply does not seem like an option for you. Any grade that is not a hundred makes you feel like you should be doing more. Any question that you might have should be left unsaid because it is expected of you to understand everything at a faster rate than everyone else. This mentality of expecting for yourself to be better than you actually are makes you spiral quickly into failure.

And when you fail, it feels like you are doing more than just failing yourself. You feel like you have let down your parents, your teachers, and your peers. It’s a harsh fall from superiority to realizing that nothing about you makes you any more special than anybody else. And while it does help you gain perspective about life that every person has something that makes them special in some way, it can still hurt you greatly.

The transition from knowing that you are something special to realizing that you are nothing has caused for an increased spike in teenage depression in the past few years. This flawed system of dividing kids at a young age due to their academic performance has created an environment that builds stress for children on both sides of the spectrum.

Why was there never a lesson where the teacher explained that every person has the capability to be extraordinary, and that academics is not the most important aspect of one’s personality? When will we not feel confined to the labels we were given at a young age?

Being a child prodigy was not easy, especially now that I am an average student at best. But being on the opposite side of the spectrum was not easy for those students either. I get aggravated with myself for not living up to everyone else’s expectations, but I know on the other side that the ones who were labelled as below-average are proud of themselves for not confining themselves to the expectations they had years ago.

I believe that this means that, overall, we should not define ourselves to others expectations. Part of growing up is realizing that you’re going to mess up, but also that sometimes you will succeed. How you performed on a standardized test in first grade does not define the person that you are now, and it shouldn’t.

The only thing that should define who you are is yourself.

Welcome to the Real World

Do you have zero idea about what to do with your life? Do you feel like you are letting everyone that you care about down?

Welcome to the real world.

For essentially the first two decades of our lives, we are controlled.

Every thought we have, every meal we eat, every choice we make, hell, every time that we use the bathroom was closely monitored by the adults in our lives. We are told to be independent and strive for greatness, but in the same breath we are reminded that if we break any of the thousands of norms that society has established for us, we fail at life. Everyone from our parents to our peers to our teachers are molding us into this codependent human being that feels trepidation before making any type of decision alone. And if we try to break free and make decisions for ourselves that aren’t traditional, we are immediately berated and forced back into the confines of society.

And we don’t complain, because the confines are the only thing that we know.

Until we reach the magic age of eighteen and everything suddenly transforms into a menacing world of self-sufficiency and major life-changing decisions. It is like as soon as you finish your high school degree, everyone thinks that you should automatically have life completely figured out. You are expected to know which college you want to go to, what major you will have, what career you will do for the rest of your life, where you’re going to live, what person you’re going to marry, how many kids you’ll want, if you will live in the suburbs or in the country, and how to file taxes when just a few months ago your school would not even trust you to go to the bathroom by yourself. How does society not see a flaw in this?

We are forced into being codependent, mindless beings for most of our lives and then the next day we are expected to make some of the biggest decisions that we will ever make. And if you express that you are confused or scared, you get berated because “You’re an adult now. You should just know.

But how can we know?

It’s not like our high school systems devote that much time to helping students actually preparing for the real world. We weren’t given courses like “Intro to Tax Forms for Dummies” or “How to Not Drown in Student Debt.” Instead, we spent years of our lives memorizing information to regurgitate back onto the standardized tests that (SPOILER ALERT) actually demonstrate very little of the actual knowledge that we hold and will never be applicable to life outside of the classroom.

And I’m not saying that we should attack teachers for how horribly underprepared we are for life. The teachers want to teach us valuable information and wish that they could break away from the rigid goals of the standardized tests. The problem is not the teachers. It’s the people who think that distinguished test scores are more important than fostering young minds to find passions and gain knowledge that will actually make them grow as a person. It’s the people who get angry at students when they try to express individuality and then later on get upset when the same student tells them that they can’t decide what they’re passionate about.

Students are being dehumanized into walking test scores, and not only is it damaging to our minds. But it sets us so far behind when the real world shoves it’s unrelenting presence in our faces. Students that excelled in school find themselves struggling when success is no longer a game of having a stellar memory. The students who fell behind are entering the world discouraged because they’ve spent their whole life hearing that they are simply just not good enough.

When you are already broken down mentally, it is hard to make massive decisions for yourself. And it is even worse to confess to others that you don’t know what you will ever be able to do with your life because you don’t want to fail at being an adult before you have even got started.

But, there’s a bright side to this. If you’re a young adult finding yourself in a similar position to the one that I’m describing, know that you’re not alone. Seriously.

Nobody has a clue about what to do with their lives.

The girl from your high school who has always been so sure about being an Engineer is probably having a mental breakdown and deciding to be an artist instead. The boy who you always just knew would become a lawyer is probably talking on the phone with his mother right now telling her that he wants to go into journalism instead. And your best friend that is currently a biology major? Be sure to motivate her when she starts crying and tells you that she definitely cannot complete the Gen Eds, let alone actually get a degree to be a doctor. We are all going to change our minds at least a million times about the direction that our lives will go. And when we think we have it figured out, it’ll probably change again because life is funny like that.

I know that this sucks right now. That the construction of the school system and society itself seriously needs to be fixed and that it can be seriously discouraging to feel like you can’t answer any of the thousands of questions being hurled your way. But just know that you are not alone in feeling about the world’s biggest idiot and that everyone is going to mess up. Welcome to the real world.

Let’s mess everything up together.