There lived a girl who eagerly awaited her time spent on the college campus of her dreams. She ached for a get-away into a new environment where she pictured herself thriving as a bubbly, free spirit. She ached for an independence that she thought only college could bring. She ached for her true individuality to be awakened into an environment of people who desired the same goals as her. No setbacks, no second thoughts, no obstacle, she thought to herself—with only ambition living in the confines of her mind. This girl, a senior in high school from Chicago, thought she had it all together and her dreams were enough. She thought just making the move from high school to university would create that path for all her dreams to flourish and become reality.
However, her perception of this ideal college lifestyle would remain a fantasy.
Fast forward three years later and I’m that girl; except now I realize that “girl” didn’t have any clue about anything. I’m at the end of my third year in college here at the University of Iowa and I don’t even think I’m close to having anything together. All of that daydreaming I did in class, ignoring the present while I mentally curated perfect scenarios of my future in college turned out to be a scam on myself and the biggest wake-up call. In reality, as soon as I stepped foot on that Pentacrest and had my first class in college, I felt alone and isolated.
I went to college thinking I could create something of myself and make a name for “Alyssa”, but even with all of my ambition and excitement, I was stuck in my own bubble of self-doubt. The second semester of my freshman year hit me hard. I felt the peak of my isolation and the plummet of my motivation. The friends I did make all ventured out and taking part in campus organizations and Greek life, like Alpha Kappa Alpha, while I stayed stuck in my dorm trying to figure out what I actually wanted.
I found myself physically and mentally stuck in the same spot, the bed of my dorm suite. The only thing I had going for myself started with class and ended with work. I realized that with all the high hopes I had about college, I closed myself off from actually doing the needed work. I thought everything would fall into place because going to college and making it there was the goal; what high school me forgot was that goals don’t stop—they grow.
When I first began my university experience, I let it end me. I allowed my accomplishment of going to university be the end-all, instead of branching out into organizations and meeting new people. I allowed the vastness of college to finish me, making me doubt my ability to thrive. I wasn’t “excelling, stretching, engaging, choosing, or serving” like our school mantra encouraged. Instead, I stayed in bed, went to classes without saying a word, avoided my friends passing through campus, allowed life to pass me by and accepted my loneliness.
Isolation and the feeling of loneliness in college is something that every student will experience in different ways. For me it produced the isolation of myself in a place where isolation wasn’t supposed to exist. I allowed for the doubt to consume me. That doubt led me to just see my university as a task, not an experience. It led me to feel inadequate for the Public Relations Student Society of America organization and to change my major four times. That same doubt created a feeling of unpreparedness for college altogether. That doubt created my loneliness and made me feel more and more isolated. Though that isolation brought on thoughts that were mostly self-destructive, it got me to think hard and pushed me over the edge to the point where I knew I didn’t want to fall.
And here, three years later—that same girl who was excited to start college is on her way to finish her last year of undergrad. I am that girl whose isolation pushed me to study abroad for the summer in the Dominican Republic and organize a multicultural fashion show while realizing I have a passion to produce, write and document. I am that girl who may not have it totally all together right now, but I am also the girl who never let a period of isolation get me down.