Accepting the Past as Past
Bama Rogue

It is hard to believe that my freshman year of college is almost over. It feels like just yesterday I was back in Alabama packing up my things, excited to be going out and living on my own for the first time.

As I have stated in many of my previous columns, college was absolutely nothing like how I expected it to be. And for me, this was an incredibly difficult hurdle to overcome. Because college was nothing like I expected, I found myself unwilling to fully let go of my high school days and memories. They were safe, familiar, and yet they were no longer a part of my world. It was one of the most difficult goodbyes I have ever had to do deal with. And it took an entire semester for me to accept that it was time for me to move on.

Once I did that, my college experience became so much easier and so much better. Instead of reflecting on the past, I was looking forward.  What did I want to do? Who did I want to be? Where did I want to go? Finally, I was asking the important questions, the right questions. Finally, I began to feel the great elation that comes when you first begin to experience independence. Of course, I was also scared. Once I realized that I had complete control over my own future, I was exhilarated but also incredibly burdened. And sometimes I still am, but that’s okay because at least I’m concerned with something that involves endless possibilities. At least I am now able to imagine, to dream about my destiny and fate. All of this sounds very cliche. But I am being completely honest, as I always try to be in anything I write.

I regret so much of the time I wasted “reflecting” over my past during first semester. When I think about it now, I can laugh, but before it was a very serious matter.

College, to me, had begun to appear almost like a death sentence. I wanted no part in adulthood. Suddenly, I was longing to be little girl again, with no knowledge or concept of time, where only the present mattered and the only thing I had to worry about was what color hair ties I would wear to school the next day. Now I see how silly I was being. I was only 18, and yet there I was being all nostalgic as if my life were near its end.

So my advice to any future freshmen, or perhaps just anyone getting ready to make a huge life transition, would be to go in without particular expectations, because things rarely happen that way. And the disappointment that comes with not having your expectations met can definitely ruin an experience that has the potential to be amazing. In fact, you may find that some things that you never even thought about are possible. You may find things about yourself that you never knew until you stepped onto that new campus, or into that new house, or that new city.

I am saying that sometimes it is okay to let things happen without knowing what awaits. Sometimes it is okay to be uncomfortable, and sometimes it is perhaps even necessary. Also, do not worry about things back at home or at your old school or workplace changing without you. At the same time, do not try to delude yourself into thinking that things aren’t changing, because they are. And so are you.

For me, this was my biggest problem. I had grown so used to things and people being a certain way that when this familiarity was disrupted, I felt like my whole world was being destroyed. Thankfully, I later realized it wasn’t. Things were definitely shifting and transforming, but in reality they were just like they had always been, even though I was not aware of it.

I don’t mean I was transforming in a way where was I losing myself. It was more like growing to discover parts of myself that I never knew existed. And this, of course, was so scary that instead I tried to push it away instead of embracing it.

If only I had let myself be surprised, and fully appreciated all the new happenings around me, my first-semester experience would have probably been so much better. But I can no longer dwell on that fact. Instead I will just be grateful that I am past that point.

I am grateful that I can appreciate that I am now at a time in my life where anything goes. And because I know this moment in my life won’t last forever, I want to make the most of it. So I will.

Jasmine White is a freshman in the College. BAMA ROGUE appears every other Friday.

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