Lessons I’ve learned from being a first year mess

The narrative surrounding your college life has significantly changed over the past few years, and that’s not a wholly bad thing

Robin Doyscher, Columnist

Leo Coughenour

So, for those of you who are familiar with my columns, it’s very much akin to “angry woman yells at clouds,” and that is still the energy I want to keep. But, for this issue, I wanted to level with everyone, and give some perspective for all of my peers who may be in a similar situation.

I wasn’t a very stable person during my first year of college, coming from one of the worst summers of my life, and dealing with severe doubt, mental issues, and feelings of directionlessness I entered college a very fragmented person. I ended up making friends, some amazing ones, a few others who were pretty terrible, and had to swim in the deep end of the proverbial adulthood pool. Now, entering my third year of college, I feel like I’m the closest I have ever been to being a fully formed person. Yes, I still have my flaws and areas to improve upon, but I feel very, let’s say, secure, in my existence.

The most important lesson I learned from my first year is that most people want to be authentic with you, but won’t be—not because of any sort of edgy, “oh everyone’s fake” type of rhetoric, but because being authentic is difficult. Being vulnerable is one of the scariest things to do around others. There is no solid guideline to how to, or when to, and to quote Into the Spider-verse (a personal favorite movie of mine): it’s a leap of faith. There is something very special about when people are vulnerable with you. There’s an implicit trust about sharing your insecurities, hopes, dreams, and experiences with someone new. It should always be your number one priority to make those people feel comfortable and welcomed, and be sure to have the discussion if that vulnerability turns into overwhelming amounts of venting and ranting.

I had one friend in my first year of college whose self-pitying, black hole of negativity persona especially caused a lot of issues for me (and others) when I couldn’t advocate for myself and say that I needed a break from it all. So, take care of yourself.

Another important lesson I learned is that life is full of goodbyes. Friends, relationships, identities, perspectives, experiences, interests, passions—on some level they’re all just as impermanent and finite as the classes we take. Though they’ve shaped us in some manner, they do end. That’s why I’ve grown to love the things that have stuck around, and can look fondly upon what I’ve left behind. It’s a tricky thing, but so much about my friends and I has changed since first year. Obviously, the ongoing pandemic has perhaps played into that, but there is still an inevitability in the sense that our journeys through life always lead us to where we are—right now, for better or worse.And finally, don’t search for the perfect, rose-colored campus life that seems to forever grace our television screens and the pages of many coming-of-age novels. You’ll learn so much in your years here, and if you don’t board the train in front of you, you might miss the most vivid and complex ride you’ll ever take.