College: Will I fit in?

College: Will I fit in?

If you’re anything like I am, then high school was a strange time. People were scary and friends weren’t easy to come by, especially not ones that seriously cared about me. As I was applying for college, I found myself constantly worrying about whether or not I would fit in during my time at college and what I would need to change. I was always wondering if I would be able to make friends as close as the ones I had. Would the people on the way to classes know my name the same way the people in my hometown did? Where would my spot be in all the chaos that was college? The one thing that I wish someone would have told me when I was worrying about these things, the secret that people always learn the first week or so of college, is that everyone is feeling the same exact way that I was.

Everyone who is going to college is worried about what they’re doing. Everyone is leaving home, leaving behind the comforts of what they’ve become accustomed to for years at this point. Every single person is leaving behind an entire life in order to find themselves in a new one, and that is terrifying. However, this fear is also exhilarating, and I had never been more nervous. As I settled into my room, went on the various orientation activities, tried desperately to learn the routes to my classes, I found myself having what I now refer to as ‘accidental conversations’ with so many people. I was talking to nearly every person I came into close contact with because they, just like me, wanted to find people who were as nervous and as afraid as they were. By week three of college, I had found a group of ten people who I called my friends, and an inner circle within that, whom I spent nearly all waking hours with. I had found my place within a few short weeks, but the question is how? How did I do this when it hadn’t really felt like I’d done anything specific? The trick to it all is three simple steps: be yourself, be open, and leave the office.

Be yourself. I can sense the eyes rolling when I say this, but this is sometimes the easiest and the hardest step. I don’t just mean do what you like, I mean be yourself undoubtedly and unequivocally. Stand up for what you love and believe in, voice your opinion respectfully and listen to someone who disagrees. The best relationships come out of two people disagreeing but ending in understanding. That being said, do the things you love to do, and find new passions. College is the time to do things you’ve never done before, so do them!

Be open. This is slightly harder for most of us, but be open in two ways; open to new experiences, and be vulnerable. Be open to those new things you’ve never done before, when someone asks you to try something new, go try it, there is no harm in it. Also, be open emotionally, be vulnerable with people when the time is right. You’re going to meet a lot of people and some of them will stick with you for years to come, so show them your heart and expect that they do the same in return.

Lastly, and the hardest of them all, leave the office. This is more of a metaphor than anything, but it’s essential. Leaving the office can mean any kind of departure from comfort. Whether that be leaving your residence hall instead of just sitting in there playing video games, trying one of those aforementioned new activities, or doing something way out of your comfort zone. High school was your time to find your office, the place or places you felt comfortable and safe. College is the time to leave that office and find a new way of living.

In short, remember these few things: Everyone is just as terrified of everything as you are, so it’s ok to be scared so long as that doesn’t hold you back. Remember this isn’t high school, remember the lessons you learned, but start over and be the version of yourself that you want to be. Be yourself, in all things, every day, and every minute. Be open to anything new that might come your way, whether it be big or small. Finally, leave the office, take the time to step out of your comfort zone in a big or a small way every single day and watch how fast life changes.

Michael Smith is a Marketing major, Networks Scholar, and student writer in University Marketing.