Freshman year seems like a lifetime ago, and since then I have experienced more change and self progress than I have in my whole life up to that point. I am glad to have made the mistakes that I did (there were many), because it has led me to accept myself as an imperfect, constantly growing individual and become more aware of how my choices impact myself and those around me. Although if I were to go back in time I wouldn’t change anything, because I am a strong believer of the butterfly-effect, there are a few things I wish 18-year-old Kelsey knew about life that I have come to realize since.
Making Friends is an Active, Not Passive, Process
What I mean by this is that there is a certain amount of effort involved in making new friends, especially when you are dropped off in an strange environment 5 hours from home with no familiar faces. As an extremely introverted young woman who had a solid, unchanging group of friends all throughout middle and high school, I suppose I had hoped that new friendships were something that would come naturally. For some people, perhaps in sports teams or other close-knit clubs, maybe that’s accurate. But for a person like myself who was allergic to extra-curriculars, I struggled to immediately find a group of people with whom I clicked. It also didn’t help that I was clinging to a slowly dying high-school relationship, which I admit now I used as a crutch and a subconscious excuse not to have to reach out to strangers.
Be More Patient with Your Roommate
I will take full responsibility in admitting that I am not the easiest person to live with. Especially as a freshman, I was driven by my anxiety and often had trouble dealing with things not going the way I wanted. However, looking back, there were definitely times when I should have put on my big girl pants and dealt with it more maturely. My roommate was going through a lot of the same things I was, and it was unfair of me to expect her to be perfect. If you’re reading this, I apologize.
Do NOT Wear That Out (are you crazy?)
I go to a school where if it’s not winter, it’s pre-winter. Like many freshman girls, I felt the compulsive need to look bangin’ every time I went out to a party. After all, no one wants a freshman at their party, so you gotta step it up. However, I frequently ignored the weather and sported strappy sandals and bodycon skirts when it was freezing out, and pretended not to be miserable as I waddled across town to the bar. Looking back, wearing that didn’t make me (or any of the underclassman I see out now) look good, it just makes people think you’re crazy. As a senior, I’ll go out in a sweater and a puffy jacket and NGAF, but winter didn’t apply to freshman me.
He’s Not Worth It
If I had a quarter for every heartbreak I let send me into a spiral, I’d be able to pay off my student loans. Admittedly, this doesn’t just apply to freshman me, but it happened for the first time my freshman year. The end of my long-term relationship with my high school boyfriend (I realize I am sounding more and more cliché as this article goes on, but please bear with me) devastated me, and for a long time I felt paralyzed. However, after the stress of not having to worry about another person was lifted, I found it so much easier to focus on myself and improving my college experience. I think long-distance relationships freshman year can be done, but you have to make sure you’re the type of person who will be able to remove themselves mentally from their relationship and work on developing themselves as an individual in college. At the time, I was not that kind of person.
This is the most important one. Do not expect everything to be what you imagined it, especially not the first semester. At the time, I felt as if I was the only one hating my college experience. I thought about transferring every single day. However years later, after having spoken to many friends about their freshman year, I realize that this was a super common experience. It takes time to figure out where you belong. Looking back now, I miss freshman year terribly. There are so many great things about it that I will never be able to experience again. Everything is new and exciting, classes are easy, there’s little pressure to have your future planned out, and most of all, all of the guys are older than you (okay maybe not “most of all,” but seriously, how great was this). I wouldn’t change my freshman year for anything, and I am glad I decided to stick with it.
Oh one last thing, do not take freshman bio. It will suck, and you will cry. A lot.