Going into freshman year I was SO excited. The whole entire summer all I could think about was decorating my room, meeting tons of people, taking naps, going out—basically everything. I was borderline obsessed with the idea of college. But, when I finally got there, it was a bit harder than I thought when it came to making my experience live up to all my expectations. I know I made a lot of mistakes my freshman year. However, what follows is what I think I did right, and how it set a good preface for my overall college experience.
For whatever reason, going into college I didn’t think that I would have to worry about making friends (I know that totally makes me sound like I think I’m super cool or something—I promise you I wasn’t). But, it wasn’t that: I just had a mindset that everyone was new and we were all in the same boat, meeting people and forming relationships would just come… naturally. I thought that everyone would be looking for friends. So, how hard could it be? I thought that by simply leaving my door open and following all of the “must-do” stuff that people said would work, and my future best friends would literally come flocking into my room. As you might imagine, it wasn’t that easy.
The No.1 thing, the most important and easiest way to make friends is to join something. A club, sports team, sorority, campus ministry—Anything! And, it’s never to late to do so. I had a lot of interests freshman year but I was still unsure about committing to something. I was nervous that it would become too time consuming or that I simply wouldn’t like it. Around the 2nd week of school I started to feel the boredom, the nervousness of not making any friends and not making the absolute best of my first semester. My parents, specifically my dad, have always been pushers. I don’t say that in a bad way, though. Most of the time whenever he has pushed me, it has been for the better. Not to be dramatic, but kind of life changing (thanks, Dad).
I had done cheerleading all throughout high school and had the mindset that when I got to college I would be done, retired, chapter closed. However, my Dad gave me an ultimatum. Ugh. I had to try out or get a job (now looking back I ‘m not sure how this convinced me because I didn’t have my car at school and I missed the deadline to apply for work study). Anyways, I went through with it. After making the team, it ended up being one of the best college experience decisions I’ve made. I was working out, meeting tons of people, making friends, sticking to a schedule and most importantly, challenging myself.
Challenge Yourself and Explore Every Interest.
In my opinion, freshman year is the time to pile on the stress. Break yourself into all the changes and immerse yourself in challenges. Truthfully, it’s only going to get more difficult and stressful. Learning how to adapt sooner will make the following years easier. (But, at the same time no worries because it will also become so much more fun). I also say this because it’s a way to narrow into your interests and hone into what you want to focus on throughout your college career. I was all over the place my first semester. I wanted to go to law school, be an author, then a poet, news reporter, magazine editor, photographer, fashion stylist, CEO of some kick-ass international business, and also become fluent in Chinese (looking back I’m thinking ????????). I was a spaz. But, I went with it and I joined an online magazine club, went to law school interest days, took lots of photos and wrote a TON about everything and anything. By the end of the year, I had more clarity.
Everything was so exciting and because I explored so many of my interests, later on in my college career I was able to focus on a few of them that developed into passions (yeah, you bet I definitely ixnayed the law school idea). Developing yourself goes hand in hand when beginning your career.
Uncomfortable is fine.
Freshman year is uncomfortable. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. I’m not going to say that being uncomfortable is good, but it’s fine. It’s ayokay. You’re living with someone you’ve never lived with before; you’re taking classes that are meant to be time consuming, and you’re forming relationships with people, meeting new personalities. One takeaway from freshman year is that it’s okay to get a little “corny.” Text people first, ask people to study in the library, go out together, get coffee etc. I didn’t do this that much my freshman year because, let’s face it, it’s uncomfortable and weird. However, what I’ve learned is the making yourself uncomfortable forms social skills that will eventually become second nature when you’re out in the “real world” having to form relationships with new people again (aka networking).
One of my best friends I made in college, Christina, became my friend in Spanish class. We were paired up often and would talk about random things. One day we were talking about waxing and where to go around our school, etc. So, she ended up asking me to go with her and her friend, Keegan, after class to a salon to get her upper lip waxed (LOL). I stopped in my room after class and then she picked me up. I remember sitting in the back of her car while her and Keegan talked, and it was obvious that they were good friends. They were super nice, but I definitely felt a little uncomfortable. I barely knew them and naturally felt a little bit on the outside. After that trip to the salon, we continued to hang out and go out on the weekends together. Now, three years later, they are two of my five roommates. 🙂
Take every opportunity.
To wrap everything up, basically the key is to take every opportunity. From joining clubs to making friends, become a “yes man,” or “yes woman.” Say yes to going out on a Tuesday. Say yes to going to a tryout. Say yes to the idea of law school. Say yes to going with somebody to get their upper lip waxed. I’m sure I missed out on opportunities, but I know that the opportunities I did take, have made my college experience freaking awesome.