Freshman year of college is well known as one of the most important and major changes in our lives, and for a good reason. It’s the time where you finally start to feel like an adult; it’s usually the very first time most you will live on your own and start to truly make your own decisions. Your parents aren’t there to watch you come home at night or wish you a good day at school, and that is a major change for many people. I am fortunate enough to live in Cincinnati, and be close enough to my home that I can go back and visit or have dinner with my parents whenever I wanted to, but obviously far enough away that I never felt crowded from my parents either, leaving me less than homesick most of the time. However, my first year in college still caused a significant self-evolution. The most difficult aspect of my first year was pretty simple: people. I have never had trouble connecting with people and making friends, and college was really not much different. I was in a very social residence hall, and my roommates and I got along pretty well, with the occasional expected arguments. The first week of college was meeting people non-stop; I’m not kidding when I say I think I probably met hundreds of people in my first few weeks. Overwhelming is an understatement. I quickly realized about eighty percent of the people I was meeting, I would probably never talk to, let alone see, again. And I was right. This was very tough for me to deal with because I tend to value depth and quality over the quantity of my friendships; so while it was great to meet so many fellow students, I didn’t feel like I was really making friends, only acquaintances. And with my major in Engineering, the selection of social friends similar to me, especially girls, was very slim. I was blessed to have found one my one ride-or-die classmate who worked on every class with me, and without him, I would have probably been alone in all my classes. But with him, some of my neighbors, and my roommates, my “friends” felt limited. Even these people didn’t know me that well yet. I felt pretty alone the first month of college, and would sit and wonder if this feeling would ever change. I regretted not going to OSU, where two of my best friends chose to go, because then I could at least have SOMETHING to cling onto. For the first time I truly felt alone. And that was terrifying. But, that obviously changed, as things always do. I made the decision to go through recruitment and join a sorority, and I was definitely define that as one of my smartest choices—a true turning point. I quickly was connected to 150 other academically driven, involved, and inspiring women, and finally started to make the true friendships I desired. The Greek community is so connected, and I began to meet other Greek men and women and make more lasting connections. This story isn’t anything new; at some point, everyone feels alone and isolated, and it somehow ends up turning around and getting better. I mean, that’s basically the story of life. There are always ups and downs. And that is very easy to see from the outside, and usually much more difficult to realize when you are experiencing it. But the greatest thing I learned from this was that things really do take time. Did I really think I would make my best friends in the first week?? That’s crazy, and is very unlikely. And did I really think that I would forever be alone? Also, slightly irrational. And definitely dramatic. I really just expected everything to suddenly transition perfectly, when in reality, that rarely happens. If it does happen, then you’re blessed! And if not, welcome to the other ninety-five percent of people who have experienced or are still experiencing the exact same thing. My biggest take-away from this first year is that change takes time, and be patient, carry on, try everything, and good things will come. And if there was one thing I would change, it would be to not spend my time dwelling on my failures or the lack of progress there. I transitioned into the University Honors Program second semester, after originally being rejected from the program, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how things could have been different if I was just in the honors program. I wasted my own time, pining over what could have been, and making myself feel like a failure, when I should have been thinking about the opportunities I have and relationships I have made because I wasn’t in honors. I would have never had my same roommates, who are now my best friends, or maybe never would have joined a sorority and met my other best friends. I would have probably had a different class schedule and never met my best engineering friend. Things definitely do happen for a reason, and I am blessed to have gone through that failure so I could have the life and experiences I have had up to now.
This all leads to the three biggest pieces of advice I can give to myself for this coming year:
Be patient; take the changes that will come your way with perspective and fortitude.
Be open to things that seem like failures or set backs; everything happens for a reason
Try new things, meet new people, and branch out as much as possible
I am going to focus strongly on the third piece of advice, and make it my goal to branch out and be even more involved, especially in the first few weeks. I don’t think I took enough advantage of participating in UC’s Welcome Weekend, and I want to actively involve myself in other organizations. My goals is to fully join at least two new clubs or activities and stay involved in them the entire year. With all this reflection, I am proud of how much I have changed this year. I used to be more closed off ; I wouldn’t say I was mean to people, but I have always been very sassy, and never failed to let someone know if they annoyed me. And I would let that affect who I was friends with, which I believe limited my opportunities and growth. I am more open now, and I always try to meet and connect with as many people as possible. I have found a true passion and excitement for Architectural Engineering, and cannot wait to continue on that academic path. Through the honors classes, I realized Global Studies is a major part of who I am, and I am going to deeper explore travel and global research throughout my college years. And overall, I think I am happier. I finally am doing what I love in class, am inspired and joyed by all the people I surround myself with, and can see myself being happy in years to come. This evolution of my former self will now propel me forward, and provide me with vision. I can continue to change in these areas, and I am excited to see what transformation this next year brings for me.