To my freshman self,
College is an incredibly tumultuous time in life and some days it can get especially stressful and scary.
However, college is going to be the best four years of your life.
Go ahead and call me crazy, but I promise you that it’s true.
Your four years at Loyola will be filled with ups and downs. You will have the time of your life and you will meet some of the most amazing people while also facing and overcoming obstacles you never could have imagined conquering. You’ll spend sleepless nights in the library and in your dorm room, finishing projects and papers. You’ll also have sleepless nights filled with friends, music, parties, and fond memories that you’ll treasure forever. You’ll find that you make friendships that will last a lifetime and some that will last for just a semester. You’ll fall in love with people and places. You’ll have your heart broken, but you’ll break some hearts of your own along the way. You’ll struggle at first with juggling a college course load, but you’ll end up making the Dean’s List on multiple occasions. You’ll find yourself pushed to your limits… and in these times you’ll discover just how capable you are of going above and beyond any limits you ever imagined for yourself or had imposed upon you.
They say, “with age comes wisdom,” and that’s certainly true when it comes to surviving the great adventure that is college.
You’ll find that you grow into your college experience, it doesn’t all just click at once.
On the way to orientation, you may feel terrified even though you’re excited about the new chapter that’s beginning. Regardless of these nerves, orientation will end up being an incredible experience and there will be people you meet during that time who you’ll still be friends with when you graduate four years later.
When your first week of college finally rolls around, you may still be nervous, but what you might not realize at first is that those nerves are actually pure excitement more than anything else.
Just know that all will be well.
I remember sitting on the floor of my college dorm room during the first week of freshman year and bursting into tears out of the blue after a long day. There was so much change and uncertainty around me and I felt like I didn’t know anyone or have people who knew the “me” that my classmates from high school had grown to know. My safe bubble of comfort and familiarity that had come along with high school was gone.
Initially, I felt like a baby bird that had been flung out of its nest to learn how to fly….
… I flew better than I expected.
College gave me the chance to unapologetically be myself. In comparison to high school and middle school, I was more myself in college than at either of those times. At Loyola University Chicago, I can truthfully say that I was my best self and I spread my metaphorical wings. I saw myself grow into an outgoing, energetic, artsy, sarcastic, goofy, cheerful, social butterfly of sorts and became the “mom” of most of my friend groups. This freedom and release that allowed me to be myself gave me so much joy and for the first time in a while I felt incredibly content with myself and who I was and was known as, as an individual.
One of the key things that made this possible was finding people I really clicked with and who supported my personality and my passions. I was blessed to find friends that turned into a second family for me.
I was lucky and ended up with roommates who loved me and put up with me regardless of the fact that I’m constantly rearranging the apartment, setting up mini Instagram photo shoots in common areas, and have a habit of leaving coffee cups in the sink for days on end.
I met such an incredible mix of friends both in and outside of Greek life who turned into the greatest “squad” I could have asked for.
I gained a literal second family thanks to my sorority, Chi Omega, and ended up with the most fabulous Little and Grand Littles.
I met girls who I couldn’t have survived my freshman year without. They were my “ride-or-die”s since day one and I cannot imagine my college experience without them.
I found friends who offset my “mom” tendencies and played the role of “mom” on campus for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to rant to about anything and everything that was stressing me out or frustrating me.
I had dorm neighbors who turned into some of the best buds I could have asked for. They say that “opposites attract” and that definitely ended up being the case in many of my college friendships.
I was honored to grow and flourish alongside a remarkable pledge class (Go Gamma Gals!) and graduating class in my sorority. These women have been a constant source of support for me and I’m so grateful for each and every one of them.
Without a doubt in my mind, I would say that college was a highly transformative period of time for me and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. I am so incredibly grateful for my experience and I’m truly sad that it’s over, even though I’m absolutely psyched about the next chapter in my life.
As a final note to my freshman self and anyone else who is getting ready for or already in college…
Do your best not to doubt yourself or what you are capable of. You may find that you surprise yourself when you go beyond your “limits.”
To quote Winnie The Pooh,
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
College is a wild ride and such a gift. Don’t take it for granted because it will fly by far quicker than you expect.
Finally, thank you to everyone who was a part of my college experience and my time at Loyola. I’ve said it multiple times now, but I was truly blessed and so incredibly lucky to have the experience that I had. I will carry my college friendships, lessons, and memories with me for the rest of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the best four years I could have asked for.