Growing up is tough.
Gone are the everlasting summer days when you could spend nights playing tag in your backyard, tasting the sweet morsels of infinite happiness on your playful tongue.
No longer can you ask your mom or dad to buy you toys at the store, or to patch up your knee when you've fallen to the ground.
It's time to be an adult.
A real one.
Going into college, I didn't completely understand what that entailed. Mostly, I was excited about the independence I could claim being a full time undergraduate student. I was bored of high school drama and defining people by what grade they were in. I was desperate to participate in an atmosphere that embraced social change and advocacy. I wanted to meet people from different parts of the state, country or world. I wanted to have a best friend and watch movies until the sun rose up in the sky. I thought college would be a really long sleepover with a couple of hours of homework and studying in between.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
It took me a while to embrace the college culture. But, here are few words of knowledge from someone just breaking into their first month.
Nobody cares. That's not always a bad thing, because now you can dress the way you like, talk the way you like and act the way you like without judgement. In fact, it makes sense why so many people embrace their true identity in college. Without peers of your past to ask wondering questions, you can be YOU. At the same time, that truth is terribly frightening. No one caring means that you have to discover yourself all over again. Your environment and culture can only shape you so much. Now you have to make choices. Who will you be? And is it the truest form of yourself that you can be?
I found out that the answer isn't easy to find.
One night, as I sat outside on a lonesome bench, bawling my eyes out to my friend Bea, I confessed to her my fears of not making a real group of friends. I had a crew of five girls I knew I could depend on in high school, and Bea was my train ride buddy. I knew she would be there after school at 3pm, waiting to take the D train with me. It was our routine.
But, in college, I discovered that there is no routine. You will connect with people one day and then never see them again. You will think someone will be your best friend until someone drops the conversation and that is that. It's terrifying. It's like skydiving without a parachute. No one is there to catch you. But only in those few moments of fear and heart wrenching isolation, can you discover how strong you actually are. The next day, I got up early, put on some clothes and spent a day by myself. I felt reborn.
Another truth. You will miss your family.
No matter how strong and brave you try to be, the absence of your family will creep into your mind during moments of silence. Sometimes I see families hugging in town and my throat will get heavy with grief. After receiving a stomach ache from a dining hall meal, I remember sobbing with the realization that I didn't have my dad's delicious food. I missed my cats on nights I couldn't sleep, when I remember the heaviness of their bodies as they slept on my stomach.
But fret not, because college isn't all that bad. Once you make friends (even friends that don't remain your friends), college starts to feel like home. Your bed starts to feel like your bed instead of the dorms bed. Your body will adjust and become comfortable with the dining food (for some, you may never adjust. Blueberry waffles are always acceptable for dinner. Peace be with you). You will find moments of comfort whether by yourself or enjoying the company of another person. I have met some great people, including my roommates and the girls next door in room 221. I haven't cried in, like, a whole week!
Sometimes it sucks. College truly really feels terrible sometimes, whether you're holed up with homework, bored on a Friday night or physically plagued by homesickness.
But here's another golden piece of advice from a girl just breaking into her first month of college.
It gets better.
Trust me, it does.