I’ve been struggling with whether or not I wanted to write this post.
But I’m going to be vulnerable with you.
I moved into my new college last Saturday. I moved in early because band camp was slated for the few days before Freshman Orientation. My brother, who is a freshman, moved into the same college today, and classes start on Monday.
I’m very excited for these next two years, and the awesome adventures they will bring. (Study abroad in Italy, anyone??). I’m ready to propel myself into my school work, and arrive victorious on the graduation stage in two years, accepting my Bachelor’s degree. I’m eager to learn, and ready to be challenged, and prepared to grow.
But the first few days were really hard.
I mean really hard.
My parents and my boyfriend can attest to that. I called them multiple times feeling stressed or overwhelmed. My boyfriend actually may have experienced me having an emotional breakdown. I cried more than I’d care to admit, and got angry and frustrated a lot too.
Now, I know college. I know how to do college. I already have two years under my belt, and enough credits to be a junior. But I was having a really hard time adjusting to jumping into an experience as the newbie.
I mentioned band camp was the few days before Orientation, so really, it was the past few days. I missed marching band quite a lot while I was at the community college, and I really wanted to do it in college. As I was prepping for band camp, never once did it occur to me to prepare myself to be the newbie again.
It was an incredibly overwhelming feeling of newness, and of loneliness. I’m an introvert, and normally I’m completely content with doing life by myself. I didn’t make many friends my first two years of college, and that didn’t, and still doesn’t bother me too much. Don’t get me wrong, I talked to people and enjoyed people’s company. But I didn’t make it my mission to leave that school with a group of close friends. When I got to campus last week, I (stupidly) had the same mentality. I thought I’d be okay to be (mostly) by myself.
Boy was I wrong.
The marching band at this school is roughly 130 people, which is double, if not triple, the size of my high school’s band. I felt swallowed up and lost in a sea of already-made groups of friends. My lonely tendencies were felt some much deeper, and really upset my heart. If people invite me to join their group, I have no issue with that. However, it’s hard for me to just join groups of friends.
I really struggled with that for a few days. Eventually it got better, and now I can say I laugh and talk with the people in my flute section regularly. I’m feeling comfortable with where I am, and how I’m meeting people.
Something else that was really hard for me was getting back into the groove of marching band. Physically, my body knew exactly what to do the moment the metronome started. I was actually surprised at how well my body responded to marching band after a two year respite. (Though I did forget how badly marching while playing the flute screws with my back … there are knots all up and down my spine and in my shoulder blades …).
Mentally, I really struggled getting back into band. Because I have been so far my flute for so long, I hadn’t realized how badly my skills have decreased. I would love to say my skills are what they were when I graduated, but sadly, that just isn’t the case. I can still play really well, but my sight-reading isn’t what it used to be, nor is my ability to play really well, really fast. I struggled to come to terms with that fact for several days.
There were several times I was tempted to tell my parents, “I give up and I want to come home”.
Finally, it was hard for me to accept that I’m at the bottom again in terms of responsibility. I know that sounds so odd, but just hear me out. When I graduated high school, I had been the section leader in the marching band for two years, and I really enjoyed having a position of authority. My junior year, I had even contemplated trying out for drum major for the following year. So it was hard for me to accept that I’m just part of the section, and that given my limited time at this college, I don’t have the ability to move into a position of authority.
I don’t regret my decision to do college the way I have. I’m very proud of the fact that I will be graduating with less than $10,000 in debt, because of the way I’m doing college. However, my mind is filled with all kinds of “what if’s” about what my future could have looked like, if I had come to this college straight out of high school. Like I said, I don’t regret it, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.
I’ve also been learning how easy it is to lose the essence of who you are at college. Not grounded in anything familiar, I felt myself a drift in the unknown. I felt my soul disappearing into a small spark. An incident last night almost caught me directly changing my behavior to fit into a group. That scared me, and was a wake up call. I was on the phone with my boyfriend last night, and as I was telling him about this, I could feel a steely resolve building up within me, to not lose myself.
I really struggled. I found myself not willing to grow and challenge my comfort zones.
It’s a crazy and powerful thing, breaking through the things that once scared you. The closer it got to moving in last week, the more and more scared I became. I would tell anyone I trusted that I was excited, but utterly terrified. And yet here I am, four days from starting my junior year, and I’m ready.
On one of the days I was really struggling, my boyfriend sent me Joshua 1:9. It was a powerful reminder to me to breath and relax in God’s powerful and strong hands. And you know, I think it was that moment that re-sparked my soul.
God is good. I am at college. I have great roommates. I survived hard days. I have a loving, supportive family. I have a wonderful, incredibly supportive boyfriend. And I have a heart and soul that can overcome hard things.
I am being vulnerable, and exposing my heart, because I find courage in seeing the things I’ve already overcome. I am ready to take on the world.