So with high school graduations in the air, I thought I would best celebrate by sharing some of the key lessons I learned in my first year of college to save you guys some embarrassment and frustration, with a little help from some of my terrible photography.
One: Being Alone Isn’t That Bad
Technically I wasn’t alone in this picture, I joined my friend as she took pictures for her photography project and then nagged her until she took pictures of me. Eventually though, whether you want it or not, you will be doing something alone in college. Normally the first thing you experience that makes you realize life is different is eating alone in a dining hall. And at first it’s terrifying. High school movies told us that having no one at a table with you is a sign that you’re socially inept. In real life though, nobody cares. I have eaten alone way more than I have eaten with people in my college career so far and honestly, it’s great. It gives you a nice alone time, a moment to recharge, to plan the day, or just to think. Then next thing you know, eating alone will turn into something else, shopping by yourself, going to events without anyone, even taking the bus downtown with a stranger next to you in the seat. And while it feels uncomfortable at first, the more you do it, the more you forget how weird it feels, it becomes second nature to you. You gain this sense of independence that only comes from doing something without anyone’s help.
Two: Change Up Your Style
Ever wanted to rock high wasted shorts? How bout dying your hair purple? Nose piercing? Now’s the time to do it. Now I’m not saying get a completely different wardrobe. That would be both exhausting and bank account draining. What I am saying is that college is the perfect time to try an outfit, a hairstyle, a trend, that you never had before. Because college is honestly just a whole group of people trying to discover themselves (as well as silently hoping they’ll get a job after it’s through). It may sound materialistic, but I gained a lot of confidence about myself from just experimenting with style. It can be as simple as wearing my clothes a different way or trying that hair braiding tutorial. But trying anything new helps in the long run. Here’s what I did:
Let’s get one thing straight. That selfie up there? Super embarrassing. But, it was something I did almost every day. I’d try on an outfit I wasn’t sure of, take a picture to see how it looked, cringe, and then walk out the door anyways.
Usually the start of my day would involve panicked questions in my head.”What if this looks stupid?” “Is this the right way to lace up boots?” “Is the lipstick too much?”. Like being alone it can be a bit nerve wracking at first. But it also becomes easier and easier. After my first class I would stop overthinking my outfit and just start thinking about my day. The more and more you do something that scares you, the less scarier it becomes. Eventually you stop caring about what other people think about your outfit and more about how you feel wearing it.
Three: Not Everything’s Going to Stick.
In college I tried a lot of clubs and wet to a lot of events (and yet couldn’t find a good picture from any of them). Some of them were great! And some of them I kind of hated. Of course that’s life, your going like some experiences better than others and sometimes it will surprise you which one is which. I signed up to write for a comedy show at a local TV. I thought “Hey! I wanted to be a screenwriter and I love comedies, this will be great!”. Eh, not so much. The type of humor the show had was not the type that I liked. I realized that it was a lot harder for me to write jokes and feel comfortable sharing because the medium just didn’t click with me. Working for the show wasn’t a waste though, I learned that I prefer writing darker pieces of writing than witty or farcical sketches. And that’s the great thing about joining a club you end up not liking, it’s not a waste because you learn something about yourself.
Four: It’s Okay to Not be Okay
This is probably the most important lesson I learned Freshman year. In August I joined the school gymnastics team. In November, I tore my meniscus doing a tumble.
Right there is the beautiful picture of my knee after I got surgery.
Just like that I was out for the rest of the season and on crutches for a month. To add salt to the wound, I was still crutching around when finals week was going on. Even though I was stressed, I said I was “Okay” over and over and over because I didn’t want to bother people with my problems. And that method works great for a few days. And then you start to crumble as stress after stress just tacks on.
One day I was just so tired that as I crutched into the dining hall I slipped. Everyone watched, gasped, and held their breath as my friend caught me. “I’m okay, I’m okay” I kept trying to say, but then my eyes started watering and my lips started quivering and then next thing I knew I’m letting out every problem big or small to my friend. In a dining hall. Where everyone was eating. Was it embarrassing? Hell yes. Did I need it? Hell. Yes. As soon as I started crying my friend took me to side and listened, waited for me to finish, and started telling me it was alright, that she was there for me. And while it didn’t make my problems go away, it made me feel that I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t hiding. It may feel like your complaining about a homework that’s due or a final a week away.But letting out your stress early saves you a hell of a lot of emotional turmoil down the line. And remember, venting is not the same as being conceited.