From the awkward geek standing at the side drinking lemonade at freshman winter formal to the full fledged college-bound senior standing in the center of attention, I thought I was ready for what awaited me. I had no idea. First two hours of orientation I felt fine… then it all came crashing down. I am not sure what hit first, the waves of somnolence and despair. I began to count down the hours until I could retreat back to the comfort and safety of my room. Yet, the day dragged on. Orientation really is all about meeting people, and colleges make sure to allot student a considerable amount of time at receptions (to me despair). At the end of the day, after everything was explained, the orientation leaders led us all to a social that went to 1 AM.
Before this, I had never experienced anything like it. Rarely had I ever been out to 1 AM, much less with hundreds of other people packed into the same room. I sunk into a sea of despair, lamenting the next four years as a challenge, not academically, but merely a endless barrage of social events, never allowing for the quiet sanctity of solitude.
A month passed, and I prepared myself for a torturous beginning to a Sisyphean four years. This ordeal never came. In my trademark fashion, I overthought most of my troubles.
I think the main problem with my defeatist attitude coming into college was one fundamental truth: regardless of what others may seem like, everyone is only human. Even the socialites have their moments of imperfection. Even the boisterous and obnoxious need their quiet time. Everyone has their own story that has brought them along the path to who they are today. Jocks are not always empty headed sports monkeys people think they are, and frat boys are approachable even if you do not like going out to party.
Now I am roomed at the party dorm at my college. This means I do not even need to open the door to get to a party – the party knocks on my door, and when I fail to answer, raps faster and harder until frustrated cries pierce the surprisingly soundproof steel door. On one side of my room, I have my hallway, always packed full of people rallying or pre-gaming, no matter on a Monday or Thursday alike, and on the other is frat row. Do not be bothered by this.
Do not be afraid take a day away from people. Remember that you are where you are for yourself. Neither you nor I have the right to betray ourselves just to fit in with others, or to talk to people we do not want to.
Find a few of your own daily rituals. I wake up every morning at 7:30, brew a cup of tea, then read a few pages of my books. at 8:30 I go for a short workout. At 1 PM after my classes conclude, I slip off my shoes and put on slippers, and at 7 PM I eat my dinner of salad and juice. Do not lose track of who you are in favor of what others are doing. Stay true to yourself, and who you wanted to be when you arrived at college. Meet people when you have the energy to, and do not push yourself too hard. A tired you is not the best you can be, and meeting people when tired never goes well anyways. Your parents are not here anymore to make sure you are happy. Take care of yourself in college.
Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” expresses my sentiment well in a few verses:
“Go placidly among the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence”.