When I left for college, I was terrified. I packed up the ridiculously small trunk of my Volkswagen Beetle, filled my reusable grocery bags with room decor and non-perishables, hugged my family with tears in my eyes and drove out of the cul de sac in which I spent the last 18 years of my life.
And I only went 20 minutes away.
I can only imagine the fears of other incoming freshmen who venture further from home, to smaller schools with zero familiar faces, or those who are also in the same boat as me. Eight months down the road now, I have created my own personal heaven on the grounds of my university. Whether it's in the blooming spring trees, the beauty of learning on my own watch or getting involved in residence life, I have allowed college to be college — without any limitations.
And I want to give that back! I asked a bunch of incoming freshmen what their biggest fears, concerns, anxieties, hopes and dreams are as they prepare to graduate high school and swim out into that big blue sea.
Welcome to my advice column: Ask Kami.
1. Proud to be a mama's girl.
"I'm worried about being away from my mom for so long because it's just her and the doggos." -Katy Cowell, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Class of 2021
This is exactly my life, Katy. Except it's just my mom and my rabbit that she so graciously takes care of while I'm away during the week. This is such a hard reality to face when it comes to moving away, especially if you have a good relationship with your mom. For the first time in your life, you're leaving the protective and welcoming cocoon that your family has created for you over the entirety of your life. You're going to be so excited and full of possibility that first week of school that you're most likely going to forget about the fact that you even left anyone because now, you're finding yourself.
Your mom will definitely miss you, and you'll have those days when all you want is to snuggle up next to her and watch Gilmore Girls, but this is the perfect time for her to also reinvent herself! Encourage her to pick up a new hobby, an extra part-time job that is fun and gives another level of income or even a book club with the ladies in the neighborhood. I think a lot of moms spend their entire adult lives giving and giving to their children, that, when they leave for college, life feels somewhat devoid of meaning. Give her the permission to live her own life and blossom as a modern woman first and the best mom in the world second. She's done her job and will always do her job, but let her know you love her and this is what comes next in the adventure.
As for the dogs, let me know if you find a solution because a day doesn't go by where I don't want 17 puppies.
2. That roommate question.
"I'm scared I'm going to get a terrible roommate in the random generator." -Mekenzie Looney, University of Missouri Class of 2021
Oh, Mekenzie, I know that fear. I was also scared I would be the terrible roommate, on top of worrying about the strangers I would have to buy toilet paper with. The thing is, at this point, roommates are beyond your control. If you know someone going into the school year, that's a different story, but after you've submitted all your paperwork (or online docs! This is the class of 2021 after all), trust in the universe that it will all work out.
But what if it doesn't?
Then it doesn't. Sometimes, and unfortunately too often, freshman year is a difficult transitionary time and your roommate(s) don't always help that. But you will have so many places to go and resources to utilize, no matter what college campus you attend! Roommate problems? Go to the library, a new favorite coffee joint, a community area, student center, dining hall or park to study and get your work done. Talk to your RA if there are really big issues, and don't be afraid to make new friends beyond the assigned confines of your dorm — or your building. As long as you create a support system and keep in touch with friends and loved ones back home, you will make it out alive.
And check out Becky Simpson's The Roommate Book for more cute stories and ideas when it comes to roommate life! One of my favorite gifts as I entered college.
3. The myth of adulting.
"I'm afraid I won't be able to live on my own. And I'm afraid that I'll get to college and realize it isn't for me because I feel like the last 18 years of my life have been leading up to college, so if it doesn't work out, I'm pretty screwed, right?" -Morgan Keebler, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Class of 2021
There is not one time in college where you will genuinely be irreparably "screwed." It will definitely feel like it at least twice a week, but when we really take a moment and be mindful of our situation, it's not so bad.
College is extremely hard, costly and exhausting in every possible way, but it is also the greatest growth experience you will go through. If it "isn't for you," that's not a problem, either. I've said it already and I'll say it a million times again: this is the class of 2021! Life is different now, jobs are different now and your future will be whatever you choose to make of it. There are so many opportunities for so many different people, and you will find your way with or without a degree. That doesn't mean you should immediately give up on college the second it gets challenging, but this world has already carved a you-shaped space anywhere you choose to place it, and you deserve to wake up every single day believing you belong here.
As for living on your own, you'll be able to do it. That's really hard, too, but the thing about us being humans is that we do what we need to do to survive. And you'll survive just fine with all the free food provided during welcome week. Find your groove, ask for help and share with others. This will be a process of trial and error, but be responsible and make relatively healthy decisions, and you'll be completely fine.
But seriously, look for the helpers. There are people who literally chose to stay at your university for a living to be able to help you through every little problem that comes up. It's perfectly fine to fail, it's perfectly fine to ask for help, and it's perfectly perfect to grow from it all.
No matter what, it's OK if you're still scared. Whatever you're feeling, it's completely valid. It's completely normal to be terrified, to be excited, to be sad and to be all of the above. If you still have more concerns, literally any concerns or feelings at all, hit us up at this form and I will do my very best to make it better.
Love and free food to you all!
Lead Image Credit: Kamrin Baker