Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

I Survived My First Months Of College And Here’s Why

NYU Lecture Hall, 2011

The high school I graduated from this past June had been (here comes the clichê, I know) my second home since I was eight years old. My best friends deciding to study abroad was the only reason upon me forcing myself to complete a six-months exchange program. I spent three months at UPenn just so that my resume could look above average, or at least meet that of my competitors since acceptance rates seem only to be decreasing.

I will admit that those nine months that I obligated myself to leave my safe space were incredible, educational experiences, but I did not want them until they were over. I don’t recommend “stepping outside of your comfort zone,” however. Those that usually suggest so do not realize the consequences that might carry. But take it from a fellow introvert scared of social encounters, I did it and so can you.

I was terrified coming to college. I did not want anyone to know that I was, not even myself, but there is no denying. I got accepted into my dream school and could not believe it until I had my first class and heard my name being called out by one of my TAs. I was petrified just by the thought of joining NYU’s community in New York City. Having to plan a life for myself, having the final say in every decision I had to make. However, I reached an epiphany.

The more I thought about, the more I understood that my fear of not belonging was rooted within my desire of being well liked, fueled by my need to conform to, as a woman, a certain image, body type, and personality.

This article, however, is not about the negative effects body shaming has had on me, it is about my accomplishments after I realized it was destroying me from the inside out. Before coming to college, I decided to sit down with myself and have my thoughts in order, and that might as well have saved my college career.

I did not understand the whole “best fit” idea until I got to NYU. I knew I wanted to be here because I wanted to be in New York once again and, let’s just put it out there once and for all, it’s an incredible school. Welcome Week is now a blur of freshman trying to find their cliques, but only once the first week of classes hit, I understood that NYU was my perfect fit due to it not having a specific fit at all. Being in a city in which everyone is encouraged to be who they are made me go back to my personal conversation. Maybe I had it all wrong. I did not have to accept who I was, the fact that I did not feel like changing or ever attempted to do so were clear indicators to me that I could be happy being who I was. What I did have to do, however, was let that person I was so in touch with shine out, not in.

Looking back to the person I was in high school, back in the city I grew up in, I was never the type to blend in. I always stood out with my own taste and opinions, but I knew, from the inside, that I exaggerated that self-assurance in an attempt to fool myself that I was not affected by others’ expectations. Back then, I would dress, talk, be like the person others would assume I was, not allowing for the person I wanted to be to live. I was fortunate enough to always have a family that allowed me to be who I wanted to be and to have friends that accepted me for who I was. I was the only one not fully accepting myself. That changed once I got to college.

Being at NYU, I looked around and encountered people that looked and dressed like a little bit of everything. I knew that whoever I wanted to be, I could let that out. However, this was still all in my head. I was still an introvert. I was still afraid of conversations. I was still the last person to want to be at a dorm party. I still am, I have not lost touch with my innermost personality. I’ve just let the person I’ve always dreamed of being to have a go at life.

I knew I was shaking. I knew my heartbeat was maybe a bit too fast. I knew my hands were sweating. But I took that extra half-hour in the morning to make sure I looked good for myself. I took that extra five minutes after lectures to ask questions 1 on 1 to my professors. I used my free time to meet those that work in my department, get to know my TAs, get on a first-name basis with my advisor.

Throughout the past months, I’ve had several moments in which I felt like going back to my room, turning on the shower and crying. And I did. I did not bottle anything in. I put an extra effort on being who I’ve always been so that who I wish to become could maybe blend in. I believe I have a far road to travel, achievements to conquer, and nicer clothes I wish I could buy, but understanding myself, my wants, and my limits (and knowing when to cross them) were the only reasons I’ve survived my first two months of college.

Note: My Facebook messages and Twitter DMs are always open for any questions regarding college applications, tips, and just for casual conversations. You can find my links on my profile, feel free to reach me at any time!

Related Posts