Hi everyone! Merry pine needle season! 🎄 Needless to say, I've dropped off the face of the Earth these last 3 1/2 months. But, I'm not here to apologize for it because I've really needed this time to take in my brand new surroundings. As most of you know, I started my freshman year of college at Oregon State this September. Although there are many personal anecdotes I could recount in this blog post about my external experiences so far, I kind of want to take time to lay out what's been going on internally in this post.
So, what's been going on Cierra? How are you doing?
This is the question that everyone from home asks me. Depending on who you are, you might get a "good!" or you might've got me crying about homesickness for the first three weeks. That's kind of just how it went. After about 3 weeks the homesickness did wane, but I felt constant tension and anxiety that kind of ebbed and flowed as the days went on. And when facing my first college finals, I was extremely nervous, anxious, scared, etc.
at first, I felt like I couldn't do it.
We all have moments where we question our true potential, and a lot of these last 10 weeks has consisted of just that. Questions like: did I make the right choice by going out of state? What would my alternative reality look like right now had I stayed home? How would I feel? Would I feel like how I feel right now?
Here's the thing: yes these thoughts suck, and yes it feels quite vulnerable to put them out into the world like this. But I know someone out there has to feel/have felt the same way at some point in their lives. And if this someone how comforts anyone, I think it's worth talking about.
But here's the thing...I got through it.
Too often, we "forget" to discuss the hard emotions we face when we're met with hard change or just life stuff in general. Instead, we put up a front for social media, friends and family because we want to look like we have it all together. But: it's okay to admit that you don't have it all together. Likewise: it's okay to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how big or small. To me, being one of the only people in my friend group to go out of state and leave people and surroundings that I knew behind was a crazy big change, even if I did only go one state up. This may not have phased some people (and more power to you if it wouldn't have), but it did for me and the fact that I can say that I am 1/3rd of the way through my first year of college sounds insane. So, I am giving myself permission to celebrate it.
So, what have you learned?
→ Although it is totally not impossible to have a great first day of college, I'd at least argue that some of the #firstdayofcollege posts are a liiitle bit misleading. Case in point: here was my #firstday picture:
That is what Instagram saw. What Instagram didn't see was the absolute STRESS I felt trying to find all of my classes, which felt like this:
The point is: moving away for college is rough! There was a lot of emotional challenges I didn't anticipate as silly as that may sound. Nevertheless, it WILL subside!
Moving onto other lessons...
→ If you don't know how to manage your time, I hate to break it to you, but you better learn. Especially if you're on a quarter system like me.
→ Related: being on a quarter system and having time-consuming classes is no!! joke!! You have zero time to procrastinate, because not being at least a step ahead feels like being at least 3 steps behind. It's bizarre.
→ You know how all of the YouTubers you watch when you're looking up freshman college advice videos tell you not to schedule 8 AM classes? Yeah, they say that for a reason.
Look, I am a morning person. Coming to college I was used to getting up at 6 AM to go to school at 8 AM. I felt like this was some type of myth and excuse that people used because they didn't like to wake up early. Yeah, wrong. Here's why:
For one, you have to consider the fact that you're probably living with someone now. When it's 7 AM and you're scuffling about on your side of the room trying to get ready, the other person will most likely stir because of your ruckus.
Two: if you're a morning person like me, you may find that mornings are your most productive times of your day. Why waste the potential of these hours dedicated to going to class when you can be knocking stuff out and getting stuff done, ya know?
Three: it's just generally not fun. Especially if you have 8 AM classes far away from your residence hall.
→ Listen to me: do. not. buy. the. biggest. meal plan. DON'T DO IT! I know what you're thinking: "but Cierra, I don't want to run out of money in the middle of the semester!" You won't. Case in point: I bought the second largest meal plan that my school offers. Depending on the school, there is usually a deadline to decrease your meal plan and from that point onward you can only increase it. By the end of the term, I could literally spend almost $80 per day on food and not run out of money. Go with the smallest one first. Increase if you have to.
Do you have any advice for the #classof2019?
First of all, take a moment to reflect. I know you all are anxiously waiting for May/June and that diploma you've worked so hard for, and it seems like it can't come soon enough. But honestly, take the time to really enjoy the last bit of high school if possible. Like my economics teacher once said: "don't blink, you'll miss it."
Congratulations though, and keep on keepin' on!!
Besides that, #1: relax this summer if possible. The last thing you want to do is start your fall semester of college already burnt out or unmotivated.
#2: If you're moving away for college, take SO many pictures. Of everything. Your room before and after you've packed, friends, family, pets, etc. These are the little things that make will make you smile and feel connected to home even when you're sitting in your new dorm room in a new place with new people wondering how the heck you ended up there.
#3: Breathe and trust. One of the biggest things I have learned from this first term is that I genuinely stress myself out. Because of this, I took everything way more seriously than it necessarily needed to be. Did I get good grades because of it? Yep. But honestly, I could've spent way less time being stressed as I was and probably gotten the same grades I did. Which leads me to...
#4: Establish your routine and get to know what works for you. For example,This term taught me that I'd rather have afternoon classes than morning classes because I know I work best in the morning (AKA: that's when I have the most motivation). As long as you have a routine and you have enough discipline to actually stick to it (I write this with study habits in mind!) you will be just fine. Please relax.
#5: Be your own advocate. Someone told me this somewhere along the course of these last 10 weeks and it s h o o k me. It seems so simple: speak up for yourself! As if you don't already know how to do that?! But it seriously it is really important. This doesn't just mean asking for help or finding resources when needed though, to me it also means being your own cheerleader too. We all can be a little mean to ourselves every now and then, so being your own advocate when you're having a hard time helps you learn and practice self-compassion.
#6: Make. Friends. Look, I know it's cliche. But I say this whole heartedly: having friends will make your freshman experience SO much better. Thank you to my EOP group for not only being my friends and my study partners, but also my advocates. From little compliments to full on pep talks, and from road adventures to Pokemon Go-ing in the pouring rain, all of you have helped make this first term way more fun and emotionally easier for me in some way.
Also to the 6th floor Callafam, thank you to all of you if you're reading for being so communal and jovial! It feels nice to come home to especially if I had a rough day!
That is all for my first term of college reflection! I won't do these quarterly, so maybe I will do a first year of college reflection at the end of Spring term? We'll see :) Until next time!