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  • Writer's pictureKaitlyn Widener

A Step in the Right Direction

Moving into college is a highlight for some, but others find it a rude awakening that throws life into perspective a bit too quickly. The transition from high school to college is a considerable change. Finding out one has to make that change alone, or, in my case, without parental figures, is scary and can cause stress and other issues.

Not that the advice from someone who moved into college for the first time a month ago would be of any use, but I've slowly adapted to my surroundings and want to share my story and the things I've discovered. I owe the adaptation to the changes I've grown to love to the few friends I made when I first arrived and my furthering ambition to those who I have met and who have continued to support me along the way.

To tell the story, the morning I left for college consisted of great emotional turmoil. I had hardly slept the night before, had just gotten a horrible haircut that severely affected my self-esteem, and was not fond of having to travel six hours on major highways/interstates for the first time by myself. I had known for a while in advance that my parents were making me drive there alone. I had mapped the route, I knew what I was supposed to do when I got there, and I'd even planned to stop at rest stops and gas stations along the way to revive and refresh. Simple, right?

Despite my prior planning and loading the car the night before, things went very poorly. I got into an argument with both of my parents, which ended badly and left me an emotional wreck, and I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to the few friends I deeply cared for and were leaving behind. The argument threw me for a loop. What I thought was supposed to be a simple, sweet goodbye and good luck turned into a thirty-minute disagreement that left the entire house on edge. It was not the best decision on my part to quickly throw the rest of what I was taking in my car and set out on the road before I was mentally ready for the drive. Considering I left some things I really wanted to take behind, like my favorite scrunchy (a story I loved to complain to my friends about) and a few other items I planned on bringing. More importantly, leaving on bad terms meant reaching out to my parents when I finally got to college was much harder than I thought.

They tell you not to get on the road when you are upset. Let me tell you that is very true. I drove maybe five minutes before I had to pull over and cry. I was shaking so badly that I thought I would have to turn around and give in to my parent's wishes. But that meant staying, and if you'd known the person I was before I'd gotten to college, you would know that moving out of that small town was much better for my mental health than staying would have been. I could not let the dream I'd worked so hard for and was right there in front of me become delayed for even one more day. Now that I think back on it, my parents were more concerned about my safety than anything else, but hurtful words pushed me faster out of that house than I wanted.

The drive was not horrible. I stopped a few times to replenish gas, grab a bite to eat, and call my father, who had been upset since I left without much of a goodbye. He was relieved I'd made it halfway there with no issues, but the concern in his voice was a dead giveaway to how his day was going. I felt guilty telling him I had to go when I'd just pulled off the interstate, but I couldn't deal with the conversation, a frequent thing that has happened since that disconnect. (I've hung up on my parents more times at college than I ever have in my life.) Despite my father asking, I couldn't talk to my mother, and even when I got to college, it took me almost two weeks to even pick up the phone to talk to her at all.

Skipping past the rest of the driving details, I was extremely late to move in. Part of that issue was due to an accident on the freeway and my frequent, seemingly unnecessary stops. Becoming lost when I finally arrived on campus didn't help with the amount of stress I was bottling. I tearfully called my roommate, who had to give me directions on the phone (I'd driven past the street I was supposed to be on TWICE before I noticed the correct street sign.) I was nervous about doing things alone, but her parents were a great help and took over when things got overwhelming for me. Us choosing the same move-in day was a coincidence, but it worked out in my favor, and I am forever grateful to her family for taking me under their wing when I had no one else to help me navigate the frightening new stage of my life.

Since that day, there have been ups and downs. Those issues form multitudes of other stories I could branch off on, from ending the best relationship I had ever had to suffering from a few blows to my academic ego. It was indeed a rude awakening, but while it was a battle to get here when I finally arrived, things in my life became so much better.

As for advice, if you become estranged from your parent when you finally pick up the phone, things are not going to be perfect. It may be better for you to keep those who hurt you out of your life, but I still need my parents sometimes, and that's okay. Do not feel guilty for taking time to let yourself grow and accustom to a new stage in life before evaluating where some of your relationships still stand.

Don't be afraid to make friends. The people I have met at the university I attend have been the most pleasant of people. I've stayed up late many nights just getting to know individuals and things they are proud to share about themselves and their passions. It is refreshing to put your circumstances into perspective when you learn the concerns of so many others. You are not alone in your struggle, even if you feel that way sometimes.

Do what you love. Just because your entire family majored in biology and became doctors does not mean you can't follow your passion of being an artist. Life is short, and if one wastes away doing things they could care less about rather than the things that give them purpose and fulfillment, what is the point in living? It is okay to be discouraged. It is okay to feel like you might be making a mistake. Don't come into college with the mindset to do your time and graduate. Make the most of what you can get out of the experience. Your mentality will change. At least, mine did.

The most important advice I can offer to someone who might happen across this post is to reach out when things get troublesome. I would not have gotten past the issues I did if I did not have a support system. I found people who encourage me even when I'm having my worst of days. Everyone needs to know someone believes in them. Just know, the world benefits from your living in it, and some people adore your presence. I wish you the best of luck in discovering and following your passions. If I can find the courage to write embarrassing blog posts on the internet, you can do the thing that scares but excites you too.

With everything I have written, I need to say the advice I offered were just things I learned based on my personal experiences. I don't know much, and I'm learning more and more every day. For now, I enjoy the time I'm spending getting to finally be myself and grow more in touch with the world around me. Life is just a bit sweeter, and I credit following my passion to what got me to that point. So, even if you don't take my message to heart, I hope you enjoyed what you read and remember, don't take life too seriously. It's much more fun when you let things play out how they're supposed to.

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