Freshman Year is a Time for Exploration and Self-Care

We often underestimate the toll of plucking a teenager out of their home to live on their own. While some handle their new environment with ease, many often struggle with their adjustment to college, not knowing where to turn or whom to ask for help. I was one of those freshmen.
I was one of those freshmen who took on too many activities her first semester, resulting in an immense amount of anxiety. I was one of those freshmen who compared herself to others, pushing myself until I could barely grasp my reality. I was one of those freshmen who was afraid to ask for help, because asking for help was unfamiliar to me, and I didn’t want my state of independence to be shattered if I required the assistance of others. Little did I realize that my mindset needed dramatic alteration. I hope to offer advice for next year’s incoming freshmen so they are able to better adapt to their unique college environment.
First, your professors, believe it or not, can serve as your lifeline. Office hours have been my saving grace when I felt that I couldn’t grasp a certain topic or lesson learned in class. This was especially true in my math class. I struggled in silence until I shyly reached out to my professor, asking if we could go over material before one of our exams. She graciously met with me during her office hours, and I felt much more confident in my abilities to perform well on the exam- which I did! It’s important to realize that asking for help is perfectly acceptable. No human being ever said that we had to face this life alone, and a vital part of growing up is possessing the ability to build a support system to help guide any individual through their adult life.
Secondly, learn how to balance time. In the very beginning of college, I was quite bored. Activities hadn’t started, classes hadn’t started, and I was struggling to find stimulation. So, I signed up for numerous activities, including the fall play, working at my job, and several other clubs. At first it was fun! I loved being busy and meeting different people through various activities. However, as my class work built up, the addition of all my other obligations became grueling. It got to the point where I struggled with assignment deadlines, and hobbies I loved became a chore. That’s why I highly recommend that before students jump into any activities, they be certain that they can handle them. I didn’t get a good idea of how much work my classes would be until a couple weeks in, and by that time, it was too late to say no to the obligations I signed up for. Therefore, it is important that before signing up for a multitude of activities, be sure that there is time to execute them fully.
Lastly, self care is paramount above all. Stress has real physical and psychological symptoms, and I learned the hard way that when self care is not implemented in my daily life, I fall apart. It is perfectly acceptable to take a day off. There is nothing wrong with putting health over any other obligation. I pushed myself past my health limits this semester, and if there is one thing I learned, it is that my health, first and foremost, always comes first. Don’t let anyone say otherwise, since without a healthy body, there is no such thing as a productive lifestyle.
My first semester at college has been turbulent, but nonetheless, a semester full of growth. I now know what I need to do to improve my habits next semester, and I hope other freshmen can read this article and take away vital advice.

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