My College Reflection

August 16, 2015.

I moved into my dorm on August 15th. I had been coordinating with my roommate all summer on having the perfect matching dorm. When we finally arrived, we were inseparable and thought we had literally found our friend soul mate with one another. We decorated our dorm (perfectly matching) and  screamed when it got posted on TSM. The first night living in our dorm, I took her to Publix to make her try her first Publix sub. We sat on the floor of our dorm and talked about how excited we were for sorority recruitment, and freshman year. We both died when we looked over on my bed and there was a ZTA sticker on it. It was just confirmation that we were in the right stop and the right room.

Flash forward to the end of my first semester, I was red eyed and to the point of tears as I sat in the 24 hour computer lab with 200+ sheets on paper with every comparative politics case study known to man. I thought about how much I couldn't wait to be home for a whole month, and I dreamt of the holiday season with my family. I went home, published a blog post *kinda* opening up about my college experience and how it wasn't what I expected. I talked about how I wasn't happy with my choice of college, and how I was struggling to fit in. But I didn't paint the whole picture.

The truth of my freshman year of college is simple: After the first month of school, I was over Stetson. I lived with the regret about my decision the whole school year. I walked around campus, tried to connect and then slowly faded away. I didn't make a group of best friends, and I didn't make many friends at all. The girls who did reach out to me were great, but I still made excuses and hid in my dorm. I didn't have midnight food runs with my friends and stay up all night talking and studying with them. Instead, I lived in the fear of not being good enough to be someones friend and that no one would like me. I got bullied on social media (yes, it still happens in college) and I shut down like a middle school girl. I am the girl who is always fighting for her opinions, and I can't even stick up for myself when someone decides to start going out of there way to make me miserable. I did not stay on campus for a single weekend, and being on campus for 4 days left me in tears every night because of how miserable I was. All I could think about all semester was going home. Two weeks before classes ended, I packed all my stuff up and moved back home because I was making myself sick from crying and being miserable. I decided to commute the rest of the semester, and it has made me realize that college experiences aren't the same for everyone. I am so happy for all my friends who moved away to college, joined organizations they loved and were on fire for, and made a group of best friends. Sadly, it doesn't happen for everyone. All summer, I prepared for college. I read and pinned hundreds of articles on how to thrive in the classroom and beyond, how to make friends, and how to have a killer college experience. I wondered why these articles didn't work in real life. I wondered if there was just something wrong with me.

It made me learn that everyone has a different college experience. For me, college has become more about academics than it has about getting involved. I know that every college guide tells you that it's not about academics as much as it is about the social scene. But they lie. I went from a 4.0 student in High School to a 2.0 student within the first semester because I joined so many clubs and groups I tired myself out. I tried so hard to balance at all, but I couldn't.

I know that most girl's blog posts about their college reflections are set up in neat lists that tell you to splurge on the pizza, enjoy the memories, and to join groups. I think that these points are all valid, but no one discusses the reality of college with you. It's hard. It's not just hard academically, but it's hard to try to navigate yourself in a new environment and thrive socially, academically, and mentally. Some people just click onto it, move to their college town, and you never hear from them again. But for me, this wasn't the case. I wasn't "stuck in High School." Instead, my first year of college taught me that academics should come first and that it's possible to wear yourself out. But I also learned that I am too independent. I have discovered a love for being alone. I think that being alone is fine, but when you completely alienate yourself (like I did) you will have a terrible experience in life. Being guarded is fine, but being guarded to the point you live for yourself is not. I have noticed such a difference in myself since I moved back home. I have been more social, more happy, and I have been trying to better myself everyday. I have motivation to get up and do stuff rather than hide away. I have noticed I am doing better quality school work, and studying at home.

The college experience for me wasn't the one you see on TSM, Odyssey, or Pinterest. For me it was learning that some things aren't right for everyone. I spent a year of being miserable when I could've corrected the problem months ago by realizing the problem came from inner struggles. I am not weird, anti-social, and there isn't anything wrong with me. I spent months hating my school, when in reality it wasn't the schools fault. I love my school and I think the opportunities it has to further myself is amazing. However, I got so caught up in trying to make my life look like the lives I see on Snapchat, Pinterest, Youtube, and Instagram that I lost myself in the process.

The point of this post (if you read the whole thing, if so comment bananas COZ i'm curious) is not to shame people who thrive in college and find themselves happier at school than at home. The point is to share that sometimes the 'perfect' lives you see aren't always what you get. It's not fair to yourself to go to college and be one person while you're another one at home. For me, I was grumpy, sad, self-loathing and miserable at college while I'm usually bouncing off the walls, always have a smile on my face, and am always down for adventures (specifically involving the beach, food, and coffee).

To Stetson, I'm sorry for saying I hate you. I don't.
To the people at Stetson, I'm sorry for not getting to know any of you this year.
To my poor parents, I am so sorry that your garage has now became a storage unit....