College Living: Thoughts on Finishing Freshman Year

May 15, 2016

In September I wrote a personal post about my emotions upon leaving for college (read that here). I've now finished my freshman year, and I wanted to reflect on everything that has changed. I'll get back to my usual beauty ramblings soon, but as writing is my true love (and I mentioned that I wanted to do more of it in my summer bucketlist), I felt the need to express myself through it.

Before college, the longest I had been away from home was five weeks. I didn't know how to do my own laundry and cringed at the idea of using a communal bathroom. College courses sounded ridiculously difficult, I didn't know how I would survive without Portillo's once a week, and Wisconsin seemed far away. Now, I've been away for eight months. Laundry is a piece of cake, and communal bathrooms are no big deal (well, they're a little gross, but you get over it). Courses are challenging in a good way, but I've still never gotten over not having Portillo's on hand. It's just essential to my being. Wisconsin is far, but the distance is necessary. Before college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I've at least got some sort of idea.

Before college, I was afraid.

Let's get things straight: I am still afraid. Afraid that things won't work out, afraid that my path will be bumpy, afraid that this has all been a dream.

But I've learned to live in spite of those fears. There is no way I will go through my life without being scared. I've come to realize it's a part of me. I was scared to leave for school, now I'm scared to leave school. The fear lies in the unknown: the dark, uncharted, abysmal unknown. How can I be prepared for something I am unfamiliar with? But that's exactly how I felt when I left for freshman year, and that turned out better than I could have ever imagined. So what's to say the future won't be the same?

This past year was just a taste of how amazing college can be. I met so many brilliant and good-hearted people, tried copious amounts of delicious food, broadened my horizons, fell in love, and learned more and more about myself every day. One of the most important things I learned is the necessity to let yourself grow and change. Yes, change is one of my greatest fears, but it is also the key to my success. Where would I be if I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone this past year and allowed myself to live? I'd probably be watching movies in my pajamas, hiding away in my room.

I still love having designated PJ and movie nights for when I've had enough with the world and all its residents, but I've somehow become less of an introvert than I was when I first stepped onto the UW-Madison campus last September. I've learned the joy of finding people that you love spending endless amounts of time with, and having them become your secondary family. Oddly, I'll miss being called 'mom' by my friends who I constantly yell at to wear jackets. Sure, I'll see them in a few months when I go back for sophomore year, but when you've spent every moment with these people, lived with them, and learned with them, three months seems like three decades. I am forever grateful for the friends I met this year because they made it what it was, and made every day special.

Although leaving for the summer made me cry endlessly, I have to realize that those tears came because of all the happy memories that I was leaving behind. Freshman year went by in the blink of an eye, and I can only hope that the following years will be equally as fantastic. As time goes by I need to remind myself of the necessity to broaden my horizons and let myself experience new things every day. College will only be as great as I make it, so long as I continue to live and learn despite my fears (and with the absence of Portillo's).

I can't wait to see where the next three years take me.

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