September 1st, 2008 Jamie
One of my weirdest moments as a freshman was when a girl who completely ignored me in high school stopped to say hi outside our dorm building. I was kind of floored (and a little mad) that suddenly she thought she could act like we were friends.
It took me a while to figure out what happened-college had become a starting-over point.
The New You (or the Real You)
You’ve probably noticed that college campuses are bigger (sometimes WAY bigger) than high school ones. And there are a LOT of people you don’t know. The cool part about that is that they don’t know you either, so you’re not locked in to the mold you were expected to fit in high school.
Take this opportunity to show people who you really are, and to start figuring things out for yourself. Maybe you always wanted to be in a play, learn yoga, or even try out some research. At most colleges students are a pretty open-minded. (So you can be on the track team AND research invertebrates, and no one will be confused by the jock-science overlap).
The best way to find out what you do and don’t like is to try things. I’m not talking about experimenting with drugs or dating everyone this side of the Mississippi, I just mean it’s time to explore the things you’ve been afraid of or uninterested in in the past. Some ideas:
- Try new styles of clothes, music, hair, etc.
- Explore the area your school is in and/or test out the nightlife (but be safe).
- Go to any club or activity that sounds interesting at least once (this is also a great way to meet new people).
- Take classes that excite you-the kind that feel more like fun than like a chore.
- Explore religious options if you’re unsure where you stand, either on or off-campus.
- Get involved in volunteering (talk about a great way to get exposed to new things…this builds your résumé too!)
- Learn about different cultures-better yet, study abroad!
…Without Messing with your Future
For a lot of people the journey of “finding themselves” involves some big changes-not all of them good. You probably already know this, but there are a few things that can really mess with your head, your GPA, and your future. You know them already, but for the sake of saying it, these basic items include:
- Drugs. Yes, they’re more accessible. Yes, you’re less likely to get caught. But the same rules of reality still apply-they can mess with your brain (literally), they can get you expelled, and they’re dangerous. Plus, some people (including some that I know) get so into them that they ruin their GPA, and/or miss or delay a shot at the career they wanted.
- Sex. Besides the issue of possible pregnancy, there are a lot of emotions tied to sex-it can create at least a fleeting sense of intimacy even if you don’t have a close relationship-and that can be misleading and confusing when you wake up to the reality of the situation. That’s why one-night stands can mess with your head so bad. So, just like you learned in Sex Ed, try to make it a positive experience by being safe, and making sure you are (and will be) comfortable with the situation and the circumstances that result.
- Alcohol. Obviously for the freshmen/sophomore end there could be legal ramifications of drinking, but at some point during your college career you’ll be “legal.” But even then you should be careful with alcohol. For one thing, it’s bad for you-it dehydrates your body, makes you sick, and can be addictive. Secondly, misuse of it can ruin relationships and/or get you into some really uncomfortable situations. So if or when you drink, be cautious.