There's few things I anticipated this summer more than orientation. It's a magical time when you'll finally meet people from college and pick your schedule; essentially, your life will fall into place. Right? Well, not so much. And it had nothing to do with my group or our orientation leader. We had a great vibe, there was a memorable twitter war, and we even made a Facebook group to stay in touch. Orientation was great - just not what I was expecting. 

Orientation made everything real. When you enroll for fall semester, you have daydreams about the perfect study spot that's never taken or all the effortless, lifelong friendships you'll make. But that's not always real; the fifteen minutes that I need to book it from Calc to Psych is real. The question of whether or not I can handle a job first term - or get one - is real. The amount of credits I'm taking is definitely real. Consider my daydreams officially revoked. 

But that's the thing; reality checks aren't supposed to be pretty. They're meant to open your eyes to the facts before life makes sure you never forget them. Fact: I'm broke. Fact: There's. So. Many. Options. There is nothing more paralyzing than a plate full of choices. Fact: I'm not going to be friends with everyone (even though I'll try) and that's okay. The clouds in daydream-world are nice, but Living in Candyland is all fun and games until you have to make an appointment for a root canal. 

There is one important fact I walked away with: I'm not doing it alone. There were plenty of offices and groups that were literally designed to help me career-wise, academically or with just finding my niche in campus. I found two separate places on campus to print for free (score!). Chances are there are places like these on your campus, too. Once you're willing to let go of your preconceptions and know what you're looking for, you'll find it. 

Orientation wasn't what I thought it was going to be because it made my freshman year look different than I thought it was going to be. It's like getting your heart set on how a Polaroid will turn out based on your first glimpses as it's developing; first impressions aren't always the best angle to view a situation through. The good part is that once you get comfortable with that picture, the details starts to filter in. You can see the intramural you want to join in the background or the sharpness of your school colors in the crowd on homecoming day. Leaving orientation, I have a good image of how my freshman year could look. But pictures are snapshots of time; I intend to make the most of the life in between them. 

Lead Image Credit: Verne Ho