Dear Freshmen

Hannah Zeller, Writer - The Reporter

Dear Freshmen,

       The best advice I have ever received about college was given to me by my hairdresser. On the day before I moved in, I went to get a haircut – because obviously the best time to make cosmetic adjustments is during a major life-changing event – and while I was there the stylist told me something I’ll never forget. She said, “People are going to tell you to cherish this time, that it will be the time of your life, but it won’t be that easy. College is hard. The classes are different, you won’t know anyone, and it will be the first time you’re really on your own. There will be days when it sucks, days when you just want to jump in the car, drive home, and call it quits. And that’s okay, just as long as you don’t let it stop you from doing the things you really want to do.”

       Being told it was okay to not be okay all the time in college was – for me, at least – the most liberating piece of information I could have been handed. I can proudly admit that I am not great at being away from home. I love living at Stetson and being a part of campus life, but at the same time, I miss my family and friends. Especially in the first few weeks of the new semester, I find myself wanting to run home just so I can spend the night back in my own room.

     Everyone is different, and everyone faces their own challenges, but I’ve found that there’s comfort in knowing the people around you are going through it too. Maybe you’re like me, and fear leaving behind the comfort and security of home. Maybe you struggle with class loads, or worry about getting the right internships or research positions. Maybe you have no idea what you want to do with your life, and you’ve already switched your major 6 times; because you have no idea how you could practically apply your degree in the real world. Whatever worries and anxieties you’re facing in your first year of college, know that it’s okay to be feeling this way, and know that everyone around you is probably feeling the same way, even if they don’t talk about it. Those kids who seem like they have their lives together really don’t, or if they do, they’re actually wizards, and so clearly have an advantage over the rest of us.

       My point is, even though your time in college can be amazing, you’re going to have some bad days. What’s important to remember is that those bad days don’t last forever, and they won’t stop you from having the college experience you want to have, just as long as you don’t let them. There may be times when your anxieties and worries feel like they’re getting the best of you, but they will never become so completely suffocating that you can’t push through them. Learn to take care of yourself when you’re down: eat, sleep, get some water, take a walk, or talk it out with a friend or loved one. Utilize campus resources, such as the counseling center, or the health and wellness center. Do whatever it takes to revamp and recharge, so you can get back to hustling hard.

       Most importantly, learn to give yourself a chance to breathe. Everyone works and adjusts at their own pace. Getting used to life on a college campus is tough, and getting acclimated (or even re-acclimated,) to living away from home and working on a new schedule each semester takes time. Nothing happens instantaneously, or without a little bit of faith and patience. College is one of the most complicated and convoluted times in a person’s life. You’re not truly an adult, but you’re also not a child: the best description is probably an amorphous blob of stress and caffeine. Even so, college is a fantastic experience, and the memories you make here will eventually become the stories you tell your grandkids that start with “back in my day…” College life is all about finding balance, learning from your mistakes, and growing in ways you never thought possible. This semester, just remember, the stress and anxiety you feel today will seem irrelevant next week, because you’ll be moving on to bigger, better, more spectacular things. Work hard, give yourself a break, and enjoy the ride.

                                                                               Your Fellow Freshman,