On the last night before most of us left for school, there was a gathering of a majority of my friends. Not friends from high school, but the friends I met through an organization that connects students from all across my state. I looked through the room and saw mostly college freshman with the exception of three current high school seniors. We were laughing and catching up as if no time had passed at all. Our conversations hadn't changed, and in that room, the change that had occurred within the college freshman was accepted. The changes, however, were hardly noted, since we had all been great friends before and will continue to be great friends throughout the rest of our collegiate careers and on into adulthood.
At the close of the night, we went around the room talking about our "Roses and Thorns," a tradition that was started this summer at a conference we all attended. We all talked about our first semester with some positivity, but also some negativity and I realized: "I'm not alone in how I feel." I'll be honest, the first semester of college was not the greatest. It probably wasn't the greatest for anybody, considering we were all faced with new environments, schedules, and people. However, in that room, we all realized and discussed how the lessons we learned this semester will carry on with us throughout next semester.
Often times, we look at bad experiences through a lens of negativity, seeing the bad and not realizing the positive impacts of those negative experiences until much later in the year or even much later in our lives. However, last night, one person specifically shared an experience with a failed relationship, and how that experience, although ultimately "bad," actually turned out to be beneficial. This specific chain of events allowed them to look at their lives differently, see where change needs to be made, and rethink previously held beliefs and values.
This growth should be what college is all about, learning from mistakes and events that occur in our lives and moving forward with a slightly different outlook. This type of change is not bad, nor should it be dreaded. Change should be welcomed with open arms, as change is natural. I'm not talking about changing environments or changing how you study, but actually changing your outlook on life or changing how you approach problems that you are faced with on a daily basis.
Whether you're on the quarter system and the winter quarter is starting this week, or whether you're on the semester system and you go back in a few days, remember that you are allowed to change who you are. You are allowed to change how you approach class, relationships, and life as a whole. Don't dread next semester because you feel it will be so similar to the last, but instead welcome this next round of classes and opportunities for what they are: a chance to gain more understanding and knowledge for yourself so that you can grow.
Your friends from home will always be there to help you along the way, too, which is something I realized while looking around the room last night. Throughout our lives leading up to college, we have all built excellent support systems that will be there for us regardless of how much we learn and grow. So go out there, and don't be afraid; next semester, and all the semesters after, will continue to improve.
Lead Image Credit: Pic Jumbo