It has been exactly one month since my first day of college. One month since I was reborn as a freshman. One month since I started a new era of my life.
I’ve been planning to make this sort of informal and more personal post for a couple of weeks now. I wanted to talk about my thoughts and experiences so far because I kind of enjoy reflecting on it personally and figured it might be useful and/ or interesting to some of my readers. Maybe you’re reading this right now because college is right around the corner for you and want to know what to expect, in which case, hey— you came to the right place.
So that first week. It was a weird one. Especially, emotionally those first few days were really rough. I felt really alone. I felt empty, sad, and excited all at once. Let me tell you. Life feels really strange after you graduate high school. That summer is like a break from reality. Like you’re on top of the world because you just graduated. Everyone’s excited for what’s next. Grad parties galore. Friends. And then… back-to-school season rolls around. People are buying up stuff for their dorms. Group chats are going dormant. Your friends from your senior class start leaving you one by one. Like people being picked for teams in gym class. Except there aren’t two teams. Some friends go halfway across the country. Some hours away upstate. Some never even leave your hometown.
But everyone goes their separate ways. To an extent.
I’m a lucky one in this regard. I have a lot of strong friendships that withstand anything life throws at us. Right now, it’s mainly all of us doing our thing, striving for success, and always remembering to catch up with each other at the end of the day because having each other is as important as it has ever been and ever will be. I’m so lucky to have great friends who will come back home for the weekend to see me or FaceTime me from their dorms to give me the grand tour. Talk about our classes. Get lunch with. Hit me up on Snapchat. Whatever.
But back to that first week. Emotionally, it was very lonely and confusing. I had a lot of underclassmen friends back in high school. I stayed home to commute to college (as did some of my other friends), so I still see them and talk to them. It was really hard for me when they went back to the high school that I wouldn’t be going back to. Talking about the classes I took. And the teachers I made friends with. And the halls I once roamed.
It was hard to adjust and realize I wasn’t going back.
It took some sinking in. It honestly was kinda depressing, like that’s it? All I got was four years and now I’m getting kicked out and into real life? While a lot of my friends are either far away or stuck in the hell hole that is high school? Yes, I said hell hole. Don’t get me wrong. I miss it a lot in some ways, but I did my time and would rather not repeat it.
I was lost. No one could relate to me. I remember messaging a friend who graduated the year before me sometime later that week asking, Man, did you go through this too or am I just crazy? He reassured me that I wasn’t alone and that he had experienced the same thing, which helped. I was also conflicted at this point. I was feeling attached to high school for a few reasons. My obvious connection to it. The fact that my mom worked there, my sister, boyfriend, and bunch of friends still go there. And the fact that I had stayed home for college. I wasn’t trying to escape I guess, but I didn’t want it to be like I never left. I didn’t want to be the person constantly visiting their old teachers or showing up at the school randomly all the time. One thing I have learned in life is that you shouldn’t overstay your welcome. Since this school year began, I have went back to the school a total of three times all for different and necessary reasons, and I honestly feel like I am handling the whole distancing myself thing all right. Not overdoing, not depriving.
But on top of succumbing to waves of nostalgia and the feeling of being shunned from the only place I knew, I was forced into a place that I didn’t know. College. Now, mixed with my little depressive mindset that week, I was like totally not feeling it on the one hand. Like a toddler crying for his mom on the first day of preschool. What is this unfamiliar environment? I want my mommy! This ain’t my mom! This was not my school. This was foreign territory and it didn’t feel right. But that aside, college was awesome. Because despite what I was going through, I liked the foreign territory. I liked getting to explore my new surroundings and familiarize myself. Walking around campus. Finding new places to get coffee or study. I liked how much more legit and bigger it felt than high school. I came from a small high school, so having multiple buildings to go to is like woah. I liked feeling like I had reached another level and that I was now apart of something bigger and better.
I like to describe college to people as “high school minus the bullsh*t”. Don’t get me wrong. College is full of bullsh*t too, but it’s a different kind of bullsh*t. I’m done jumping through hoops. I don’t have to deal with being a slave to the ring of a bell anymore. Or waking up at the crack of dawn every morning (hooray for only taking one 8am this semester!). I don’t have to deal with dumb, fluffy worksheets or being in class for no reason when I don’t have any work (or already finished it) when I’d much rather get a lecture, test, and leave. Seriously, don’t waste my time. Don’t give me anything unnecessary. Let me learn the material and get the heck out. That’s why I’m here. I don’t feel suffocated anymore. Restricted by a building, by teachers breathing down your neck to do your work. I hated that. I was a good student in high school and all my teachers knew that. Like don’t worry. I’ve had a rough day, I’m not feeling this sitting-in-a-desk-slaving-away-thing right now. Your assignment will get done before it is due. I’ve never not turned something in late much less not at all. So trust me. I do my part.
See, I don’t have to worry about any of that in college because they get straight to the point. I love it. Like, here’s your syllabus, this is what is expected of you, so do it. And that’s it.
Earlier I mentioned that I’m commuting to school. That changes some things. Making friends hasn’t been easy. It isn’t like going away. I don’t have roommates and a bunch of girls partying on my floor to meet. I have talked to people here and there of course, but it’s hard to find genuine connections with people. That’s just not the kind of thing you can force. It’s either there or it isn’t, so I’m really thankful I do have those genuine connections with all the friends I still cling to that aren’t going anywhere, and hope that down the road I do meet some other good friends as well. It’s going to take time, I’m assuming, and that’s ok.
I do have a few friends from high school that I actually have classes with, and that has been pretty awesome. We kinda grouped together and helped each other navigate this first month. It’s been great. I have one close friend that I don’t have classes with, but I see all the time in buildings and carpool with occasionally. I’m so incredibly thankful to have her experiencing all of these new things with me. It’s really comforting having a friend right there with you in the midst of the chaos.
Now about the actual commuting thing. Oh man. First, I want to make it clear that I have classes M-Th. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have one evening class. Tuesdays and Thursdays consist of morning and afternoon classes one right after the other sort of reminiscent of a typical school day. Mind you, I am not an experienced driver. I was licensed within the past few months. How is ya girl about to do this whole commuting thing? Guys. I didn’t even know how to get to the university. Where was it? What roads? Do I take the freeway? Can I manage to get there without killing anyone and in one piece? WHO KNOWS? BECAUSE I SURE DON’T! TUNE IN NEXT WE…
And this is the reason why for a solid two weeks I had to drive with one of my parents. And it was hell. I hated it. I felt like a baby, which I kind of am. But the one perk was not having to worry about parking because let me tell ya… parking at commute campuses SUCKS. Big time. Seriously, like parking becomes a science at this point. A formula for what time to show up to school to heighten your probability of finding a spot. You end up circling the lot for a solid twenty minutes. No exaggeration. Then you gotta fight off every other car the minute you see a spot available. Speed up and pull in because no homie, this one is MINE.
After I started driving on my own, I felt more free. Plus I now knew how to get to school (even if it’s the long way), so that’s always a plus. Now, I cherish that familiar route and those car rides where I just relax, blast the radio, and focus on something other than the giant paper that I’m going to knock out the night before it’s due when I get home later.
All in all, this past month has been pretty eye opening and refreshing. College has been kind to me. I’ve got great friends through it all. But I have to say, I think my absolute favorite thing so far about college though is the fact that I took Fridays off when scheduling classes. Hands down best decision ever.