I’m sitting outside in the sunshine at one of the picnic tables by the science building. Everything is finally fully blossomed and green, and currently bathed in sunlight. There’s the nicest breeze floating through the air, and after just finishing my third final exam of the week, I am happy. It may sound like a cliche, but in all honesty, I have literally no idea how the year is over. I remember moving in so vividly-the fear, the anxiety, the excitement; how hot it was, not knowing where anything is, feeling small. Somehow, freshman year has flown by-the memories made, the classes finished, final exams taking their toll on us all.
But now, I sit here feeling the opposite. Part of me is so sad to be leaving, to accept that this year in which I have changed and grown so much is over. I’ll never get back the newness of this year—having to feel my way through so much and figure out who I want to be. At the same time, I am unbelievably excited and ready for summer. Lindsay and I are working down at the beach again, this year at a cookie dough and ice cream shop. I’m spending a week volunteering with Camp PALS in July, which I could not be more excited for. I’m going to keep writing for the newspaper and working on figuring out what’s next in my life. But for now, I’m thinking about this year and all that it entailed. I journaled through lots of it, and I’m grateful that I wrote blog posts about specific months (plus one all about first semester).
Freshman Year: Growing
I used to be someone afraid, all the time, of being left out, of being mocked, of being different. Now I feel so confident in who I am. There’s a part of me that smiles at who I used to be, since it allowed me to grow into this person. I’ve accepted the parts of myself that are shy, quiet, and scared. I’ve embraced the parts of myself that are happy all the time, and bold, and spontaneous.
This year has been filled with good memories. From dinner adventures with my friends to spontaneous hiking trips, hours spent studying to hours spent laughing, I’ve done so much that I’m grateful for. The people I’ve met and had the privilege of knowing have each, in their own ways, shaped how I look at the world. Some of the friends I was closest with at the beginning of the year have gone their own ways, but I’m okay with it. Recently I’ve gotten closer with more people who I love, and I wouldn’t change that at all.
A New Normal
I’ve learned when to curl up with a stack of textbooks, some gummy bears, and pages of notes under the cloud lighting up the third floor of the Academic Center. I learned the importance of saying yes, both to opportunities academically and for leadership, and to invitations to do fun things (homework can wait, I promise!) Life here has become traipsing to the dining hall in the morning and chatting with the bakery lady who, yesterday, wrapped me in a hug after making me a waffle. So much about this place feels like home. I never really thought it would, but here we are.
I also learned that it’s okay to put myself first. As someone who gives freely to those around me and helps out whenever I can, it’s hard to say no. When someone verges on using you for help on papers, labs, homework, and more, it’s so uncomfortable but essential to say no. Learning this made me a little stronger as a person.
This past semester, I’ve spent a lot of time writing and pondering where I want to be in the future. Do I want to pursue writing? Should I look into becoming a professor? Is editing the best option for me? Grad school versus getting a job after college? The thing is, these big questions and imaginative moments don’t scare me. Of course it’s frightening looking into the future and not knowing what it holds. But life is so good, and unpredictable, I feel so excited about the prospects of becoming who I will be. I’m so grateful for the professors who, throughout this year, have encouraged me to think bigger and to dream past what seems possible. I’m so grateful that I have a family who supports and encourages and cheers for me no matter what.
Also, this semester has been filled with moments so lovely I could never forget them. My friend Nicholas and I ended up walking this hiking trail pretty late one night out of the blue. It was an uncharacteristically warm early spring night, and it was so dark and starry and breezy. 27,000 FitBit steps later, I couldn’t stop smiling because it was just such a fun night.
Freshman Year: Final Thoughts
I went on random lunch dates, dinner trips, and grocery shopping excursions (much more fun than you’d think!). My friend Lizanne and I had to walk across campus in the pouring rain, so we made the best of it by eating Dove Ice Cream Bars the whole way (I couldn’t stop giggling at what me must have looked like). We also randomly went for late night adventures for no reason other than I felt like being outside. I managed to survive finals relatively low-stress. I’ve laughed my way through English classes that veered off topic in the best ways; I’ve made my dorm room feel like home; my idea of what is possible has grown immensely.
Now, as I sit on my couch re-reading this post and trying to somehow capture everything that this year has been, I’m content. I’m exhausted from move-out day, and a little sad that the year is over. However, I’m mostly happy. Life has been good, and this first year was so great—it can only get better from here, too. The summer is going to be something special, and I can’t wait for what next year will bring.
Thank you so much for reading.