After I posted last night, I was laying in bed, anticipating today, the day I go back to school. This year is of course different than any other year, and the change from dorm room to apartment is certainly a lesser change than going from home to dorm room for the very first time. I thought back to this same time, two years ago, when I left home for the first time and moved in to my college dorm room. For some, the transition seems easy, while for others, it is much more difficult. For me, it was the latter.
I remember crying when I left my house, almost all the way to Watertown, and then falling asleep for the entire ride to Ithaca. Once I arrived on campus, the biggest step, even though physically it would be the easiest, was getting out of my car. Immediately, we checked in, and started unloading the car. I was living in one of the two Towers, on the 9th floor. Luckily, there were elevators, and luckily there were upperclassmen and giant laundry carts to assist us in the move. Although I was still sad to leave home, my friends, family and the guy who was, at the time, my boyfriend, moving in was sort of fun. Now, not to say that I had the coolest dorm room, but my mom and I really took the ugly dorm room and its just as ugly furniture and made it look beautiful. So, the tiny dorm felt a little more like home, but until we went to dinner, it hadn't really hit me that I wouldn't be leaving with my family that night, and that I wouldn't be going home for a while.
I had a beautiful view from my first dorm room, and alongside Cayuga Lake was the highway out of Ithaca. Even though it was too far away to actually know if one of the set of lights that grew smaller and smaller was my family in our van, I perched myself right near that window, crying on the phone to my mom, watching and watching. She kept telling me that I needed to have fun and that I couldn't let my homesickness get the best of me. She told me that I would come home soon but that I had to push through the next few weeks. Looking back, this is advice that really applies to any type of trivial situation and honestly, anytime I am stressed or worried or sad, no matter what the occasion, she tells me basically the same things. As much as I appreciate my mom's advice, the painful homesickness really had already gotten the best of me and I didn't want to listen to what she said. Also, although her advice is good advice, it is really hard to follow when one first arrives at school and is left there. Now, I am a Junior and I have had some time to figure college out and I have some advice of my own that I still follow when I get a little sad...
1) STAY BUSY. For me, this is extremely important. Luckily, my major keeps me very busy with schoolwork, especially group projects, which are not only time consuming, but they allow a group of people who might not have met otherwise, really get to know each other and I have met some great friends through group projects. Check out the activities and groups on campus. Trust me, you will feel a lot better if you stay busy, rather than sit in your room doing nothing.
2) GO TO THE GYM. When you work out, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Plus, getting in shape is not only fun, but it makes you feel better about yourself. Taking care of your body by eating right and working out definitely helps to change your mood. Remember, you don't have to be athletic to work out. Even if you have never set foot in a gym, start out college and your life right by working out and staying fit - there are not only machines and weights, but lots of fitness classes too!
3) STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. This is a big one. College is full of opportunities waiting for you, but you have to find them. Most of the time, opportunity doesn't come knocking at your door. If you get a chance to do something, even if it is going to what you think will be a boring lecture, do it. You never know what great things could come from it. Now, don't be discouraged if you go to a lecture and don't leave feeling like a new person...you have to expose yourself to lots of lectures and events and you will see, when you are in my shoes, how the bigger picture has been effected by stepping out of your comfort zone.
4) BE WITH PEOPLE. This goes along with staying busy. As much as we need time to ourselves and to be alone, during your freshmen year, many of us are plagued with vulnerability and being alone all the time is not going to help. It's not as easy to be alone when you have a roommate, but because I ended up living in a single after a falling out with my roommate, I had to learn to get myself out of the room even when I really just wanted to stay in bed. You will make friends in class, in your dorm, and all over campus, and in groups or within your major. Spend time making friends and not sitting alone.
5) VISIT HOME often, but not every weekend. My mom was right...you do have to push through, especially the first few weeks because this is prime bonding time when you will meet the people who will end up being roommates and friends for life. When you visit home, make sure that your parents cook you your favorite meal (b/c dining hall food isn't always the best...) and that your laundry gets done, and that you see your friends. But don't forget that you HAVE TO go back to school and that you HAVE TO get your work done. If you think going home will make you want to stay home more, then do not go.
6) GET IN A ROUTINE. Get up more than 20 minutes before your first class, whether it starts at 8AM or 12PM. Give yourself time to get up, SHOWER, get ready (yes, actually fix your hair, make-up, and wear something other than sweats), eat breakfast, and get to class early enough to get a seat in the front (this keeps you from getting distracted and keeps you on task because the professor is right there). I thought I would try being a 'cool' college kid and just rolling out of bed a few minutes before I needed to leave my dorm to make it to class 'on time" (which Shelby would actually call late). I found that I didn't feel happy when I was dressed in baggy sweats, un-showered. Now, if you tend to normally dress in baggy sweats and you don't shower, I'm sure this won't be a problem for you. For me though, I LOVE getting ready and looking nice for class, so I don't know what I was thinking. Go to your classes and try to be excited about it, even though it sometimes is hard. EAT. EAT. EAT. Go to the gym or work out in some way. Do your work and don't procrastinate. Go to bed as early as you can, even though sometimes this is 5am. Basically, wake up each day ready for a new challenge, and keep a smile on your face.
Now for my pageant sisters, when college becomes difficult and you are feeling frustrated or sad, and you really don't want to do what you know you need to do, think, "What would Miss America do?" I know it doesn't seem like Miss America would come across these situations, so it might be hard to imagine what she would do...Miss America emulates true beauty. She is not only beautiful from the outside but from the inside too. She is a strong, confident women. She demonstrates the Four Points of the Crown each and every day and we must always think about this because it truly does help.
To my freshmen friends:
Whether you are going away or staying home, college is going to be a big difference and will present you with trials and tribulations that sometimes might seem unbearable. Listen to the advice above, listen to your parents and you will be just fine. I would like to wish you all good luck as you begin your college journeys. In these first weeks, know that I am thinking about you, and you are in my prayers! Have fun & be safe!
On a quick Miss T.I. note, I just wanted to share that I received a congratulatory letter from Congressman Bill Owens. I thought that was pretty awesome! :-)