It has ended. A year of ups and downs, twists and turns. My freshman year of college was everything I expected it to be, but nothing I had really seen coming. When I started my fall semester, a smiley, go-get-em freshman, I had no idea the turmoil of stress, heartbreak, and growing up I was about to face. I had no idea that I would turn into the strong, brave, nearly-20 year old that is writing this blog. Being thrown into what was a completely new environment, to learning to fight my own battles and make my own decisions, I grew up so much more than I had ever thought I would in a short period of two semesters. I have come to realize that these won’t just be the best four years of my life because of the people or the parties or the independence, but because you really do come to terms with yourself. You find yourself, and you love yourself. As I sit here and look back at this past year, one can really get a clear, introspective look at the events that occurred, where they have led me, and who I am today because of them. Here are 5 HUGE lessons I learned my freshman year:
1) You are strong enough.
I hit my lowest fall semester. When you put your value into other people, you will be set up for disappointment – and I definitely was. Depression is a hole that as you reach out further, it gets deeper. And when you look in a mirror and you can’t find yourself through the rage, the depression, or the anxiety, it’s hard to find a happy ending; but there is one. There is always a light at the bottom of that hole, you just have to be brave enough to search for it. I dug for that light because I was done feeling so empty; and once I was back on my feet, I realized that I am strong enough to fight these demons. If you can fight your darkest days, then you can get up for that 9 AM class Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can stand up for yourself when that dousche at the bar won’t leave you alone, and you can give that huge speech for your exec. board. You are strong enough to fight those tough battles, if only you have the determination and courage to do so.
2) The right people will fall into your life if you just let things happen.
You can’t force anything: that friendship, that relationship. Nothing in life will work out smoothly if it is forced. All because you want something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you, and sometimes people come and go in our lives because it leaves a space open for the right person to walk in. All the right people for me have walked into my life during the right time, and because I simply held the door open. I didn’t hold the door open and call after people, no, I waited and the right people walked in, and some of those people walked right on out. But the right people stayed, and they are the people who I consider to be my OU family. I didn’t force these friendships, they just happened. Sometimes you meet people and you just connect. When it’s right you know it, you can feel it. Everything is smooth, comfortable, you’re happy. So wait for these people, be patient, because they’re worth the wait.
3) You can’t rely on your parents for forever.
I’m a very indecisive person. I sometimes rely heavily on other people to sway my decision in the right direction, especially when it comes to what restaurant to eat at or what pair of heels I should buy. But when it comes to the big decisions, the ones that require YOUR careful thought, your parents cannot be in your ear, telling you exactly what path to take. The point of sending yourself away to college is to grow in your independence, this cannot happen if you continue to hold your father or mother’s hand the entire way. As hard as it may be for them, and as hard as it may be for you, eventually you have to make your own decisions in life. You have to decide what major is right for you, or whether or not running for a position on exec board is good idea. And even with the small things: you now must set your own bed time, how much time you study, and when you eat. You will no longer have your mom making you lunch and dinner or your dad to tell you when it’s time to turn off the lights. And I don’t mean to shut them out completely, sometimes a second opinion is exactly what you need to go for that internship, or that second major or minor. I still involve my parents when it comes to the big events in my life, but I also learned when I need to make my own decisions, when to face the consequences and learn from my mistakes, and when I should have my parents tell me what path to take. Your parents will have great advice, trust me, they know, they’ve been in your shoes before; but also trust your gut instinct on some things, especially when your happiness is at stake.
4) Alcohol and drugs cannot solve your problems, and they especially won’t make them disappear.
Negative emotions and alcohol do not mix well. Like a bad trip, you will not wake up happy with yourself if you decide to get blackout drunk after you just failed a big exam, or right after a nasty breakup. Those are the nights that don’t end well, and those are the morning-afters when you still feel the emptiness you had the night before. Yeah, a few drinks with your buddies might make you feel good and cheery, but there is always a line. Drinking for the wrong reasons will end a good night on a bad note. There is a level of maturity that comes with being able to handle yourself when you drink or smoke, and lashing out because you had one bad day isn’t healthy. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all learned the hard way. A problem must be solved with your head clear, sober, and with the mind-set that things will get better – not 10 shots deep and you vomiting all over your best friend.
5) When you find yourself on the right path, you will feel it.
I know I’m exactly where I belong. Despite the ups and downs I’ve had this year, I know, in my heart, that Ohio University is exactly where I’m supposed to be. From the happiness I get from my majors, my friends, my organizations, and my professors, I know that I’m on the right path. It’s a feeling you get, one where you even on your toughest days you still have that ache of strength that tells you to keep going, because everything will work out the way its supposed to. You have hope, strength, and an overwhelming amount of happiness when you think about your future, and you see this because you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Ohio University has given me this, and I could’t be more thankful. I cannot wait to see what these next three years have in store, and I couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing freshman year of college.