College seemed like a distant, surreal dream in the midst of all the excitement and bittersweet emotions that came with being a high school senior. But now, after storing my graduation cap and gown in the back of my closet as reminders of fond memories, I have realized that only a few summer months stand between myself and the journey that lies ahead. Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared? Of course, but isn’t everyone?
I envy those who will make lots of friends and get involved in a wide assortment of clubs within the first month of college. It seems so simple: attend as many parties, meetings and activities as possible, chat up professors during their office hours, and be completely open to new experiences. The “just put yourself out there and you’ll be fine,” advice has become the default words of wisdom for graduating seniors. But for me and thousands of other incoming first-year college students across the country, it so much easier said than done.
Like those of any other ambitious incoming freshmen, my goals for my college career are to enhance my studies by taking advantage of as many career connections as possible while also feeling a sense of belonging in the college community. From internships and study abroad programs to the college newspaper and student government, I want to do it all; but such opportunities require initiative. Whenever I imagine what college life would be like, I see myself standing at a crossroads. On one hand, I am convinced that wrenching myself from my comfort zone is a small price to pay for the success that I desperately crave. On the other hand, I must acknowledge that my reserved self will always be a part of who I am.
I guess you could say that I am undoubtedly what most people would call an "introvert." Throughout high school, I had to constantly remind myself that being mortified at the thought of public speaking, passing up an invitation for the occasional night out and choosing to surround myself with only a select group of friends were by no means negative attributes. Now that I have graduated, such difficulties will follow me into the next chapter of my life. When friends and family ask if I am excited to go to college, the answer is always a confident yes, but I cannot ignore the subtle feeling of dread that comes with it. The thought of relocating a hundred miles away to share a home with a few thousand strangers and be expected to immediately figure out where I stand makes me want to curl up in a bunch of blankets in a melodramatic fashion. But of course, no one wants to hear that side of the story.
My advice for myself and my fellow introverted peers about to embark on this exciting adventure: always be open to compromise. Compromise is the key for not just a rewarding and positive college experience but for a fulfilling life as a whole. After mulling over what kind of person I wanted to become next year, I realized that I didn’t have to choose just one path. While it will be an accomplishment to break out of my shell to do amazing things in college, it is essential that I know my limits and not stretch myself too thin. Yes, I will be frustrated at myself for choosing to stay within my comfort zone over an unfamiliar experience. Yes, I will wish that I were more outgoing and assertive. But through my ups and downs I must keep in mind that I have just as much potential as any other student to blossom in college – just at a different, albeit slower pace.
I am incredibly thankful that I have matriculated at a college at which I am confident that I can branch out not only as a student but as a young woman for the next four years. As I am currently mentally preparing for one of the most challenging transitions of my life so far, I remember that no amount of shyness or introversion can ever slow me down, so long as there exists the drive and passion within me to pursue my goals and aspirations.
Lead Image: Cameron Stow via Unsplash