"Freshman year is the most important year of your life.” I heard that countless times heading into my first year of college, but I never thought it would hold any truth. Really, how much could a person change in the course of a year? Now, with the spring semester coming to a close, I realize just how much I have changed. Below are five things I’ve learned about myself during my first year of true adulthood:
1. I am extremely family-oriented
I come from a family of six, and I was always a homebody. Yet college took my family-woman status to an entirely new level. On campus I live an hour and fifteen minutes away from home, and I found myself during the last few weeks of the fall and spring semesters traveling home almost every weekend. When I got home, I never wanted to leave. Hanging out with friends from home never really happened… I was too busy hanging out with my family. The fact that I don’t get to see them every day still hasn’t become normal for me. My family members are my biggest support system and the first group of people I turn to with anything, whether it be with a smile on my face or tears in my eyes. At first I didn’t like the fact that college had made me so desperate for my family – but now I embrace it. College made me cherish and appreciate them so much more than I already did.
2. I procrastinate everything
I knew this was a problem going into freshman year. I simply cannot start projects early. It may be a mental or physical deficiency I have, and one that I’m perfectly okay with…even when I’m writing a four page paper an hour before the class in which it’s due and end up rushing into the classroom five minutes late, with my paper still warm from the printer. As crazy as this may sound, I somewhat value my tendency to procrastinate. It forces me to work quickly and efficiently and I feel as if I push myself more under the urgency of that tight deadline. I work very well under the pressure that procrastination brings. So, yeah, I may have to stop putting off really, really large projects until the last minute, because those just add unnecessary anxiety to my life. But I will most likely continue to put off those four-page papers until the day they are due. And I’m okay with that.
3. I am a neat freak
Being organized is something one should be proud of. My high school friends used to make fun of me because of how orderly I was with my belongings. But my neatness usually only existed within my school life. At home, my room would have a towering pile of clothes on my desk chair, water bottles strewn across every flat surface, and my closet oozing out onto the floor. I was not neat at home. Then, I came to college. I think living with someone who is not used to your quirks forces you to become a hostess in your own room. You want to make sure your roommate is comfortable and that you are not imposing. This feeling is common during the first few months of college, and then it wears off for most people since you start to develop a bond with your roommate and they grow to love your quirks. Somehow, my hostess instinct didn’t fade. I’m basically trained now to put away my laundry as soon as I bring it up from the laundry room, vacuum and dust on a weekly basis, and make sure everything has a place. I thought this would change once I was in my own room at home, but I am exactly the same way: folding clothes tightly so the drawers close with ease, making my bed as soon as I get up in the morning, immediately taking off my shoes at the door… I am a neat freak. The first step is admitting it.
4. I am okay with being alone
I learned a lot in and out of the classroom these past eight months, and made a ton of new relationships and bonds. Yet, the most important one was the relationship I formed with myself. Freshman year is like a first date with yourself – it’s the first time you’re truly alone and make all of your decisions by yourself. Most of the collegiate free time on your hands is spent getting to know yourself – subconsciously going on first, second, third, and fourth dates with yourself and figuring out what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to do. Because of my extensive dating history with myself, I have learned that I am totally fine with being alone. Eating in the dining hall alone, walking to class alone, hanging out on the quad alone, any and everything alone. When you learn to depend on yourself instead of other people, you become a lot more in tune with who you are. And then self-dates become fun instead of an embarrassing outing, as they are seen in high school.
5. I don’t have a concrete plan for the future
The future is hard. Planning it out is even harder. Since I was little, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Then I got to college, and everything was flipped on its head. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to be career-wise, and I wasn’t sure what my life was going to look like in five years time. In high school, there’s this invisible track you follow, where your teenage life is planned out for you. You get your driver’s license, you graduate high school, you go to college, the same old line of progression. In college, everything is up to you. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing or studying or where I am going to be living in five years. But the coolest thing about college is that it teaches you acceptance and flexibility. There are things you can’t always change, even if you feel like you have the world in your palm, and that is okay. I don’t have a concrete plan for the future. I’ve accepted it and now I am going with the flow, adapting to whatever comes my way via my short-term goals.
The first year of college is difficult. But you learn more in that first year than you do your entire high school career. I hope the Class of 2020 is ready to start taking notes. The learning experience starts as soon as you set foot on campus.
Lead Image Credit: Universal Pictures