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Student Blog: Dear Freshmen, A 'Week One' Letter

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This inspired me to write a quick “letter to the freshmen” with the mantras that helped me navigate the confusion.

Student Blog: Dear Freshmen, A 'Week One' Letter

Around this time last week, I moved into college for the first time since the pandemic. I feel like I've lived a whole year in those seven days. I was wholly unprepared for the culture shock of in-person school again and floundered those first few scary days. Faculty told me to look out for the freshmen, yet I wanted someone to look out for me! It felt like I started all over again, so I can only imagine how all the underclassmen must feel right now. This inspired me to write a quick "letter to the freshmen" with the mantras that helped me navigate the confusion. (Disclaimer: I'm still learning to take my own advice.) These are crazy times! But I know we can and will come out stronger and thrive in this period of change.

Dear Freshmen (or Sophomores. Or juniors. Or anyone navigating change right now),

I called my mom in a frenzy last week. Our apartment dishwasher was overflowing, my homework was piling up, I was battling schedule conflicts, and already felt overwhelmed. "I can't do this for a whole year, Mom. I'm exhausted." I heard her sigh over the phone (I called her with the exact same worries freshman year), before issuing one of my favorite phrases. "One foot in front of the other." That phrase got me through all the change in my life. Especially the first year of college.

Freshmen year hits you very fast. You're thrown into an entirely new living and learning situation, then watched by everyone to see how you'll adapt. It's easy and completely valid to feel overwhelmed. "One foot in front of the other" reminded me that everything I feared (where my classes were, who my friends were, how to live on my own) would eventually work itself out. Worrying lightyears into the future would not solve my problems any faster. I learned to focus on the day to day, and trust that college would be all right.

Every time I felt myself spiraling into uncertainty or fear, I would re-direct my focus to what was happening right now. If I were in class and worrying about next weekend, I stopped myself. Grabbed my runaway mind and re-directed it to what was happening in that moment or what would happen right after. This sounds like the smallest technique, but I swear it helped. For those few weeks, I would just put one foot in front of the other. Take it moment by moment. It eventually worked itself out to the point where I no longer needed to repeat that phrase 10,000 times a day. I got adjusted!

Having said that, you also don't need to create an artificial timeline for whenthingsneedtoworkoutby and howitwillgoexactly and whenyouwillbehappyinthisnewchange. You will eventually get settled and find your way. When I was a freshman, I couldn't wait to feel established in school and leave the "limbo period" that characterized my first few weeks. I always compared myself to those who I thought "adjusted to college faster/better." I've learned now that there's no such thing.

Take the time you need for you and give your mind/body the resources it needs to thrive. Because you will thrive. It just takes a little time.

Until then, keep putting one foot in front of the other and look for the good in each day.

I believe in all of us, happy first semester!

Love,

Leah


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From This Author Student Blogger: Leah Packer