Since four minutes past four in the afternoon on October 19th, 1993 I have always been unapologetically myself. In short, the person I am today is very much the person I’ve been from minute one. Though the core remains the same, though, that’s not to say I haven’t changed in other ways; everyone goes through stages: the terrible twos, that ‘cute’ stage that lasts two minutes, awkward preteen years, sweet sixteen, ‘fresh-meat’ (aka HS Freshman), young adult, almost college student, etc. etc. and though those stages may not alter the core of who we are as people, we are absolutely changed by our experiences.
The most recent of those stages for me has been the complete upheaval that is growing from a high school senior into a college freshman. No matter what others say, it is OKAY to be nervous, I was (unbelievably so) and my first semester was a massive learning curve.
In high school I was one of those type-A students. You know the ones: always on time, involved in everything, on a first name basis with much of the faculty, helping to teach freshman English, going to go to a “good” college, always raises her hand if no one else is willing, etc. I don’t mean to make myself sound annoying (as I just discovered that description to be) but I am trying to show you how confident I was in my high school. There just comes a point, and I don’t know whether you’ve felt it yet, when suddenly you need to get out, no matter how at home you felt in school!! Those applications are done, the future is just around the corner, and yet it feels like everything is stuck still for a few months, just waiting to happen. To me, this was the beginning of the change. I was ready for a challenge, ready to face a larger pond and the chance of failure, and when I began my first week at Tufts I knew I was in for a battle.
Orientation week flew by and next thing I knew I was sitting on the lawn lighting my candle. Suddenly it all began and I found that simple things became a lot more difficult when there was no one watching over my shoulder, for example: getting up in the morning without the responsibility of driving my brother to school, assessing whether I was actually sick or simply tired, going to bed at a semi-reasonable hour, leaving time in my day for homework, eating reasonable meals and reasonable times, etc. At home, there is a structure, here you create your own, and, honestly, that’s the magic of it: you get to grow up. There was a transition period in which I ate sporadically, was sick every other week, and found myself going to bed at 4 am and missing my 10:30 class regularly. I took on too much, thinking I could power through and come out smiling, still believing that if I did fall my mum would be there to pick me right back up. But then, I finished my first show and wound up in bed with a fever the Thursday afterwards cursing myself for pushing things, for I began falling behind in classes and missing commitments I had made. It was the final straw and that night I woke up and realized that no one else was going to be responsible for me anymore, I had to be the one to control my own actions and take care of myself. I had to drop two classes and schedule in times to eat and shower, but I ended strong my first semester with great grades, a very busy schedule, amazing friends, and this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment; this feeling that in three months I had truly become an adult. It’s not easy leaving home and taking responsibility for your life, but, in the end, it’s totally worth it!