If you couldn’t tell from the title, I’m starting my first year of college come this fall and yes, I am panicking. But only a little, mind you. However, because the purpose of this blog is to not freak out prospective students or even current students (do upperclassmen even read these?) and instead offer wise words, I’m going to curb my urge to spill my deepest fears about going to college and subjecting myself to years of increasingly difficult schoolwork for a piece of paper declaring my ability to work at a decent job and just get on with the advice-dispensing.
That isn’t to say those fears won’t occasionally bleed into my words, but uhhh moving on.
So. I’m going to tell you guys a story. It’s a familiar story, or a story that you’re about to become familiar with, in a year or two. Or three, if you’re the kind of person that likes to look ahead.
It’s summer, and there’s light baring down on you. If you’re inside, it’s the stifling heat of the gym/auditorium lights; outside, it’ll be the sun, setting on the cusp of your educational experience. Unless it’s cloudy. But for the sake of having a cool setting, it’s a summer evening, there’s light illuminating your tired, excited expression, as you sit in little plastic seats facing a crowd of adoring, crying parents, friends, and relatives, who’ve gathered on this momentous occasion to watch you glide towards them in long gowns and caps, to shake hands with administrators for that perfect photo-op and get a piece of paper that declares you fit to continue to the next stage of hell–I mean life journey. You wait with expectation simmering in your bones as you listen to the valedictorian make their speech, then maybe the salutatorian if your school does that, and the principal, and some teachers, and the air is static with energy. And then.
You move your tassel, right to left. You hear, “Congratulations, Class of _____.”
You hear the roar of your classmates as they all rise, the cheers and cries of your audience as they leap to their feet, waving signs with your face on it if your parents are that level of Extra. It’s a moment of clarity. For the past four years, you were Atlas, the world heavy on your shoulders–the world of grades and relationships and trying to adult–but in that moment, the weight lifts. It’s signified in the wave of caps as they fly into the air, probably knocking a couple people on their heads, but again that’s another great photo-op and it’s the stereotypical high school graduation staple that honestly, it doesn’t matter. And if your school is like mine and bans throwing caps, it’s your one last act of rebellion, the final senior prank.
The world is in your hands when you catch your cap (or at your feet, if you didn’t). And now, you have a glorious three months stretching out in front of you. Ahead of them, a brand new weight you’ve never hefted before.
But three months is plenty of time to kick back, relax, and then prepare, right?
Well. Yeah. I guess. For those go-getter people, that is. It is extremely unfortunate that I am not one of those people. So these past two months? I’ve been kind of productive. A little. I have been guilty of sleeping away weeks, or putting off scholarship applications only to see the deadline pass me by. I admit to staring down the long list of dorm-shopping supplies and looking at everyone’s posts of artsy, tumblr-esque, pinterest-inspired dorm room hauls and thinking, “Wow I wish I could do that but alas I lack the motivation to roll out of bed much less take effort to make sure my bed sheets match my shower slippers.”
Not to @anyone who has the motivation and actually uses it. I bow down to your superior powers of self-discipline. But I’m not the only one, right? And even if I am, that’s okay, kind of. I go at my own snail-like pace.
In all seriousness, I’ve obsessively scoured for posts by people like me, who have trouble revving up the momentum to tackle the first year of college. And by “obsessively scoured” I mean, I started from the very beginning of this blog and puttered out by mid-2015, give or take. Not bad for a sloth like me. So anyway. As my first post, and maybe a bit of an intro into my manner of blogging, here’s a couple things that I learned on my own after my friends and I ran from graduation in slow-motion towards our futures as represented by a random sunset in the distance.*
Sleep. I’ve been told that sometimes you’re gonna have to pull that all-nighter, no matter how godlike of a student you are. And also, you just graduated high school, man, cut yourself some slack and just sleep for a couple days. The beach is still going to be there. Scholarships will be there and ready to laugh at your expense. Your friends should also be knocked out, so you’re not going to miss anything.
Shop early. Yeah. I said that. I do recommend waiting until those sweet dorm deals start popping up, but if your engine’s a bit of a slow start-up, start getting your butt in gear as soon as you can, because right now it’s August and there’s nothing more I want to do than lie down and count some more sheep. And wow, I already got most of my stuff bought and waiting for me, so I’m not beating myself up in my dreams.
Keep in touch with friends. You’re not going to be seeing them too much after this summer. And if you’re like me, who cried a night away thinking about that, you’re going to want to be with them as much as you’re able. Some of them I’ve known since first grade. It kind of sucks thinking that a decade-long friendship can fizzle in 4 years, doesn’t it? Besides, those friends have been with you through those awkward, angsty teenage puberty years. That says something.
Make new friends. Real talk: I suck at this. But hey, I’m trying. Now I have a couple acquaintances that I don’t think are really friends at this point, but maybe suffering together through a couple classes might change that. And you’ll have people to help desperately make notes with at 1am the night before a test. Not that I recommend that.
Take an actual vacation. Go on a road trip with friends. Day trip to the beach. Hiking. Continue hobbies that school interfered with. Binge-watch all those shows you’ve been meaning to start or catch up on. I don’t know, play with cats. I mean, yeah yeah, scholarships and dorm-shopping, sorting out tuition, if you’re an overachiever you could take summer classes or prep for fall, summer homework, whatever–
Just. Just think about it. Next year you’re going to be adulting. Take the time to be only a high school kid for one last summer. Goof off before college starts preparing you for a world beyond your parents’ scope. Enjoy a well-deserved break before you go dive into college.
That’s what I’m trying to do, at least. Taking it one day at a time so I don’t inevitably panic and breakdown, I mean. That’s the least anyone can ask for.
And if you managed to read this hot mess to the very end, kudos to you. I’ll be back eventually with more of…whatever this is. Hopefully it was helpful? Or it gave you a bit of a good laugh. Laughing makes everything a little bit better in my opinion.
*This is an exaggerated retelling of how my high school graduation actually ended. Running in slow motion is hard, and it was like, dark by the time the ceremony was over. No metaphorical sunsets meant to symbolize the end of a transitional period in our lives to be seen.