Dear College Freshmen,
Did anyone ever tell you that freshman year might not be a breeze? Well, no one ever told me that.
There’s a lot to like about college. It’s like a sleepover that never ends! You take classes that aren’t from 8-3 every single day. You sign up for subjects you’re actually interested in, and, maybe, if you’re lucky like me, you only take one more math class–ever!
I think many of us can agree we grew up hearing stories from our parents or other adults about how amazing their college experiences were, how much they wish they could go back, even how jealous they are that you’re just starting out. “College was the best time of my life!” We’ve all heard that, and maybe if college is behind you, you’ve even said it.
Well, as fun as it is to talk about how great college is, I wanted to shed some light on normal feelings you might have that people rarely share. It can be a lot of pressure to expect college to be just as great as everyone says, right off the bat. I didn’t really give college much thought until the day I moved into my dorm. The only thoughts I had were that I would love it, join the best sorority ever, party on the weekends, and find a big group of friends that I would have for the rest of my life, because that’s all I ever heard.
Except, those things didn’t happen for me. I want to mention that if they did happen for you, that’s great. Everyone has a different college experience no matter who you are or where you are. I don’t think any experience is better than the other, but I do think it can be difficult to accept having an experience that is unique to others. I definitely found it difficult and I’m writing this so anyone feeling different or alone in that area can relate.
I’m really happy with the changes I’ve made from last year to this year and my college experience is so much more fun now that I’ve made those changes! I’m sharing all of this because I don’t believe I am the only one in this boat, and I could’ve benefited from knowing I wasn’t literally the only one who wasn’t a fan of my freshman year.
I missed my family during freshman year (yeah mom and dad I’m admitting it). Even though I was only 100 miles away from home, it felt like I was a world away. It’s apparently normal to move away from home and be perfectly content living in a tiny dorm after 18 years of living under the same roof with the same people (not the case for everyone I realize). In my case, being independent was not an issue and still isn’t. I actually prefer to do my own laundry, clean my room, make my own schedule and go grocery shopping. I just missed seeing my family every day and knowing they were right there if I needed them.
I now go to a college that is amazing (I know I am biased) and also happens to be 30 minutes from my home. I live on campus with 3 amazing girls, spend my weekdays at school doing homework, going to class, also working, and then sometimes I’ll spend the weekend hanging out with my family. What’s so wrong with that? Nothing. Now, it’s totally fine if you prefer to live 2000 miles away from your hometown, but I missed mine. And I know some of you reading this did too! So call your fam frequently because I know I still do and go drive home if you just want to snuggle your dog and have a night in your own bed. Missing my family definitely wasn’t the only reason I struggled through my freshman year, but it’s the one I wanted to share.
Here’s another thought I want to touch on that might be beneficial to future college students. Don’t have special expectations going into college. This one really threw me off, and if you have certain expectations about a new life of yours, you might feel lost and let down if those things don’t happen. I spent the first term of my freshman year trying to push many things that just weren’t going to happen. In doing so, I blinded myself to other opportunities. Everyone around me was a business major, so I started as a business major, even though I never once pictured myself taking more calculus and accounting. My roommate wasn’t in a sorority. I thought that all of my best friends would come out of my sorority, so I spent my first term not hanging out with the girl who I now call my forever friend. I also expected to go to parties every Thursday, Friday, and most likely Saturday. You guys, I keep grandma hours. I go to bed by 11 every night. I need my sleep. So why did I ever think I could party 3/7 nights of the week?? That doesn’t make me weird, a nerd, or any of those things, I just was not a party animal! Anyone else love a movie and ice cream with your bestie?
The last expectation I had was that I would love my school and love my life there. I didn’t. It took me a while to come to terms with this. Everyone around me seemed to absolutely love going to a huge school in a classic college town, attending big games, with a million new friends right away, and everything was perfect. Obviously, I felt like something was wrong with me. Why didn’t I have a huge group of friends right off the bat? Why did I want to go to a movie and dinner instead of a frat party?
I’ve learned two really important lessons.
- Don’t feel like something is wrong with you if you are different from everyone else. I spent a while trying to find the problem, the issue, what was wrong with me. What I learned was interesting…there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. I just wasn’t happy. Often times if you aren’t conforming to what everyone else is doing, they won’t understand why you aren’t happy like they are. Most everyone around me loved living in the dorm, loved being away, loved their freshman year. Not everyone loves freshman year, but it can be really tricky when you have a bunch of people around you who don’t understand why you aren’t happy like they are. It makes you wonder why you aren’t happy either, when in reality different things make everyone happy.
- Find what makes you happy and do that. Speaking about happy, I found out what I really love through being unhappy. I realized that my dog brings me so much joy. If you have a dog you might get this one, but Timber is the happiest thing on the planet and who wouldn’t want to be around that? I also realized Starcycle, the studio where I teach, was really important to me. This might seem funny because it’s “just a workout” but to me it was a place that motivated me and made me feel physically and emotionally good about myself. A lot of people go on runs if they’re upset or frustrated, and for me I get to experience that release every time I get on the podium to teach and share that with others. I also learned that Portland is so much fun, and I have so many opportunities here. I didn’t want to miss out on that.
For those of you who don’t know me that well, or those who do and just don’t know, I am now at the closest to my dream school as I could get, doing the best jobs, and living in my dream city. University of Portland only has around 4000 students which is perfect for me because only having around 20 students in each class gives me the more inclusive class setting I was missing. It’s up on a beautiful bluff overlooking the city and the river. So walking to class in the pouring rain has its perks, I guess 😉 I’ve got a house for next year with 5 other amazing girls, and get to see my fam whenever I want to!
If you’re a current college freshman struggling, maybe unhappy for various reasons, it really does get better! But, for that to happen you have to recognize the problem and address it. It might not be transferring schools or moving to another city, but whatever it is I know there are other people feeling like you. If you’re struggling at all I’d love to hear from you and any of your thoughts, or if freshman year and sophomore year are night and day like they are for me!
Oh, and P.S: this outfit is super cute and white jeans are my go-to this spring since it’s too cold right now for dresses or shorts!
Happy Sunday friends!