This past September, I entered my freshman year at Bridgewater State College. Like all first time freshman, I entered school one giant ball of nerves and excitement. However, in just one semester at BSC, I learned more about myself than ever before. If I knew what I know now, I probably would have dealt with several situations much differently. The three most important lessons I learned are as follows:
Let go of the things you can’t control: As the proud driver of a 16-year-old vehicle, I realize the odds are against me in regards to car trouble….now. In the beginning of the semester, I thought my car would be just as reliable as it was for my junior and senior years of high school, but I forgot to take into account the fact I would driving 45 minutes to school, not 5. To my dismay, I had several weeks of car trouble in the beginning of the semester. I’ll spare the details, but it was an incredibly long ordeal full of arguing with AAA and my mechanic, crying, and money disappearing from my bank account. The reason my car troubles seemed so awful to me is because I am the type of person who must micro-manage and control every little aspect of their life. I had a hard time giving complete control of my car (and my money) over to the mechanic.. My car troubles taught me to let go of what I cannot control and deal with whatever happens. Throughout the ordeal, my mom kept reminding me that I was an adult, who was going to deal with adult problems. Now, I know the my mother’s advice is real; I AM an adult and I will have to face “adult problems” and deal with them without the help of others.
Quit planning so far ahead: I spent my high school years planning my college years. This may sound crazy, but it’s what I did. I knew (or thought I knew) what I wanted to be in my sophomore year. I started going on college visits in September of my junior year. I took my SATs and ACTs that June. Lastly, I applied early action to every college I applied to, and knew all of my acceptances by December. My academics and preparing college consumed me. The only time I socialized was either at crew practice or National Honor Society meetings (side note: I did have friends, I was just “too focused” to hang out with them outside of school). So going into the fall semester, I was ready to take all of my anthropology classes, graduate and go to grad school…or so I thought. I went into to first semester a public archaeology major, and I hated every minute of my archaeology class. Granted, I did what I had to do well in the class, but I realized that, in reality, archaeology is not as adventurous as Harrison Ford’s in Indiana Jones. I did not want to spent the rest of my life picking at plant remains. After heavy reflecting over break and looking into my real interests, I changed my major to political science. So, all of my planning and prematurely looking a grad schools in September was all for nothing. I learned to not plan so far ahead because in the end things don’t always go according to your big plan. I’m excited to see what possibilities open up with my new major in public administration and my minor in community leadership take me.
Stop over-analyzing every decision you make: I did involve myself in campus life this past semester, but it did not come easy for me. For example, in September, I noticed on BSC’s Involvement Network page a link to apply to be in OSIL’s (Office of Student Involvement and Leadership) Fall Leadership Institute. I applied and was accepted into the program. Part of the program required us to attend an open house to fill out a form and a get a better understanding of the program. I learned that there are 3 levels to the program: Level 1 entails listening to podcasts and filling out the guidebook, Level 2 entails both level 1 and being matched with a mentor, and lastly, Level 3 which entails both levels 1 and 2 along with completing a civic engagement project. I decided to sign up for level 3. For days, I agonized if it was the “right thing” to do all three levels. Finally, I chose to do my project on suicide awareness and prevention because it was something I was truly passionate about. Of course, all things worked out in the end for me. I completed my project on time, people seemed to like it, I met a really great mentor, and learned a little about leadership. If I had let my over-analyzing get in the way as it has in the past, I would not have been able to carry out the things I did. As I enter the spring semester, I am more involved with the Social Justice League, work two jobs on campus, and applied to be a summer orientation leader. From this point forward, I am not going to let my doubts get in the way of the things I want to do.
For any first time freshman, it is difficult trying to adjust to your new surroundings and find your place on campus. My first semester taught me that to carry out anything in life, I need to go with flow. I need to forget the things I cannot control, don’t plan to far ahead so I can enjoy my years here, and never over-analyze most of the decisions I make. I’m sure many freshman were in the same boat the “Old” Kayla. I grew to realize that my college will be some of the best times I have in life, so why not make the most of it.
How about you? What would you tell your September 2009 self?