Lauren Ingeno shares her memories of starting out at Happy Valley:
No one ever said my first year would be difficult to adjust to, or that sometimes I would feel lost or anxious or lonely or homesick.
So, when I did inevitably feel all of those emotions, I kept them locked up inside of me like deep, dark secrets I was terrified of letting out. I felt guilty and defected.
She found it difficult keeping up the appearance of a freshman loving college life:
In reality, I felt like everyone around me somehow knew each other, and I would never find a close group of friends. I achingly missed my boyfriend who was three hours away. I was unsure about my major, and it caused a great amount of anxiety. And the feelings only intensified because I felt like I was walking around acting like a false, giddy version of myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I wouldn’t let anyone else find out either.
But I didn’t dare let anyone see me that way, because I was sure that no one else felt like me.
Lauren discovered she wasn’t alone, which actually made her feel a lot better. The transition to college life is stressful to most freshman. Students who leave home — often for the very first time in their lives — will miss their friends and their families and their academic coach (usually mom) and their chefs/butlers/maids (usually mom, mom, and mom). Lauren overcame her initial anxieties and has this message for new college students:
Freshmen, I’m not trying to scare you. For many, if not most of you, this will indeed be a great, worry-free year. But if you are like me and you hit some hurdles along the way, please know: You are not alone. Don’t expect everything to be shiny and picture perfect the second you walk on to campus. It takes time. And if you end up feeling sad, don’t feel guilty.
Things are going to go wrong. You’re going to run out of money. You’re going to break up with your significant other. You’re going to fail a test. You’re going to reassess your major and your goals. You’re going to miss your safety net from home. You’re not going to be able to juggle 20 activities at once. You’re going to make bad decisions. Everyone will. And no one is watching you with a judgmental eye.
That’s what I wish I could have told my 18-year-old self. And finally, everything, eventually, will be OK.