I'm sitting on my couch before move in day. It is early in the afternoon, maybe three? Looking through the screened in porch at the trees waving in the wind, I find myself thinking about college, and how incredibly ready I was, or I thought I was. I almost felt like a ghost in the garden. Completely surrounded by growth, yet unseen by all. Was I really leaving? Or was I imagining something that seemed so incredibly unreal.
When move in day came around, I was mixed with emotions. Every time I thought about home, I would feel sad. Every time I thought about college, I would feel happy, sad, anxious, and just about everything in-between. Every time I would get emotional, I would remember the undulating hills of the green mountains, and calm down. Yet, in the calm of the storm, I still felt mixed and again, everything in-between.
Now, a week after move in day, I have never been more in touch, yet more out of touch, with both myself, and the people around me.
1. In your first week, you will experience many of the lowest of lows.
After moving in, I experienced a mixture of both happiness, and sadness. It felt as if I was all alone, yet I was surrounded by others constantly. Thats the irony of college. Being alone really doesn't exist. You can Isolate yourself, but the act of being alone is close to impossible. Living at home, with my own room, and then moving into a dorm, was a huge change for me. Experiencing this was overwhelming, but working through it with positive coping skills, as I did, is a must.
"And I know, not every street is paved in gold, But even though I walk most of them alone, I'll get by."A
Experiencing these lows, like the one I experienced above, is completely normal, yet difficult to deal with. For me, when I was experiencing these lows, I thought about my major, and did a "pro's and con's" list. Again, as in any time I have done a "pro's and con's" list on the topic of college, the pro's were overwhelmingly more than the con's.
I looked out the window at the billowing clouds over the tall green mountains, and realized that life is so much greater than the ups and downs.
College is a confusing time, but I swear, in the first week of being here, I can envision my future for the first time, in a long, long time.
2. If you struggle with depression, it will intensify greatly.
"How to thrive with depression in college" is a question I ask myself on a daily basis. In the first week that I have moved away from home, I have found myself losing my sanity slowly. I have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, watching the sun rise through my window, and then gone off to a 8 am class, feeling awake, yet sleep deprived. I have socialized until I felt like I could never look at another person again. No one told me how difficult it was to be around so many people at every waking second of my life here at school, so the least I could do , is warn others about this. It is not the absolute worst thing, but it is a huge change from home life.
I am not shy about my depression. I have always had the overwhelming need to speak out about it, and how it affects me, in hopes of helping others heal as well. You see, I am not nearly close to being perfect, and I have truly realized that by moving into college.
But, the most important thing about depression in college, is that the good moments overwhelmingly out-do the bad ones.
Make sure to find common ground between yourself and your feelings. Find your silver lining, and move forward, thinking of the good rather than the bad. Find coping skills that both mix with your personality, and schedule. Coping skills are a life saver.
3. Your anxiety will be through the roof.
Once I got to college, I immediately felt anxious about everything that came to mind. When am I going to do my laundry? When will I have time to juggle all of my classes, including doing homework, writing papers, and studying? How will I be able to socialize on top of it?
Having these anxieties is completely normal. I had absolutely no idea that being nervous for college was an "ok" thing that happens to everyone. Now, after a week of anxiety, I am starting to feel myself settle; almost feel at home.
No matter how much anxiety you experience in college, just know that it will level out, and you will start to feel at home.
Slow and steady truly does win the race.
4. Crippling homesickness is inevitable.
When I first left home, I remember feeling absolutely nothing. It wasn't until I watched my home slowly become smaller as we drove away, that I started to feel crippling sadness. I looked at the dirt road I grew up on in my little home town fade into the distance, and it was so surreal. Then, once arriving to school, I missed home more than anything. I moved in, sat with my dogs in the car, and then had to say goodbye; well, more of a "see you later". I said my goodbyes and then waved as my mom, brother, and two dogs walked away. They were on their 5 hour journey home, and I was watching them leave, standing by the entrance to my dorm. It became intensely real, and that night, I sat in my room alone and felt so, so homesick.
Now, a week and a half later, I have never felt more at home. Don't get me wrong, I miss my family more than anything, but college is where I am making some of the best friends I have had in a long time, and I am working for the sake of something now. Classes in college are nothing like high school classes. Being able to say that the work you are doing is going to become a beautiful sum, is one of the most amazing things.
College will become your home, and it will happen in the blink of an eye. Make sure you look at the grand scheme of things, and keep yourself busy when you feel homesick and alone.
5. Seeking help is necessary, yet a struggle.
When I got to college, I was so busy that I forgot to take care of myself. I was forgetting to sleep, eat, and take time for myself. Just a few days ago, I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I was overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, classes, and socialization. So, with the help and motivation of friends, I went to the wellness center.
At the wellness center, you can receive counseling, sit in a relaxation room, and just take a step back from the crazy world that is college. Take advantage of the wellness center at your school. It is incredibly important to take care of yourself and the people around you. College is a stressful time, and it is close to impossible to handle everything by yourself. Find a friend group that supports you, stick to your gut, and take advantage of the offerings your college puts forward.
6. It will all be worth it.
In the end, what I have picked up most from this past week and a half, is that attending college was the best decision I have ever made. No matter the hardships, it is worth it. Here, I am studying Adventure Education, and I have never felt more set on a decision in my entire life.
Make it worth it, make it happy, make it safe.
College is where you become, you. Make sure you take advantage of that, as I have never felt more myself.
And don't forget, "be fearless in the pursuit of what set's your soul on fire".
"Our shoes are tattered and torn, but our feet are dry. As for our places in history, we will run naked through your streets before we sit decorated in your halls."