Holding back tears, I looked down and took another bite of mac and cheese as I sat at my best friend’s graduation party. I drove home soon after and immediately began sobbing to my brother for reasons I could not tell you even today. I had everything going for me—a great friend group, family and future school. So why did I feel so bummed? After all, I was about to begin the best four years of my life.
Upon entering college, you probably heard the phrase from parents and other college grads “best four years of your life!” countless times. People say this phrase in hindsight, such as when comparing their college experience to their more monotonous adult lives. Up against the real world, college seems amazing—class only a few hours a day and no class on Fridays sounds much more preferable compared to dull 9 to 5.
However, they’ve probably already forgotten the nights they spent missing their family or feeling out of place in a completely foreign environment. Nobody talks about how incredibly terrifying it feels to move away from the security of home and all you have ever known.
Luckily, I found like-minded friends early on, joined a sorority I loved and eased into the responsibility of living without my family. I accredit this to my lax mother who never babied us growing up (PTA meetings weren’t her style). But I am the minority. I struggled with anxiety over the big change up until move in, where I finally agreed that being upset over this enormous change wouldn’t do me any good.
At the end of my first semester, my roommate transferred schools. I had trouble saying goodbye to the person I grew so close with so quickly. However, I understood her decision and wanted her to be happy. In hindsight, her transfer experience led to me gain a greater understanding about the different experiences people have coming into college. It also helped me realize why not everyone has the “best four years of your life” right off the bat.
Fun fact (that most college freshmen take a while to discover): In no way, shape or form, does anyone around you have their stuff together. Yes, that includes the seniors.
Especially with social media, you can easily fall into the mindset that everyone has found their own How I Met Your Mother #squad in about two seconds. Every Instagram post says boom—friendships made, life figured out and college goes awesome for everyone but me. You wonder if you peaked in high school two weeks into freshman year.
The first time I did laundry with a friend in our decrepit dorm, my roommate and I sort of looked at each other in silence, realizing that life as we knew it (aka a world where laundry was done in our homes or not even by ourselves) would never be the same. Okay, that obviously didn’t just apply to laundry.
The Jordan Porco Foundation, Partnership for Drug Free Kids and the JED Foundation conducted a survey that resulted in 45 percent of students agreeing with the statement, “It seems like everyone has college figured out but me.” Beyond that, over half said they had a hard time making friends and finding a sense of belonging.
Especially at UGA, people know people. It can feel at times that things are already in place the first week of school. Although I made a goal to get away from Atlanta and where I went to high school, at the same time I felt comfortable with those I knew. Branching out seemed intimidating. Yet, nonetheless, I successfully forced new people to be my friends, and here they are today, laying on the floor in my room as I write this.
I know I felt this way when I remained undecided on my major, career and what I wanted to get involved in. So, take a breath, look around and know that everyone around you feels the same way. Yes, that rings true despite how fun their Snapchat story looks. Pro tip: People only take Snap stories of a party the first month of freshman year. It feels kind of lame after that.
So, some things to consider before transferring: Will I really be happier elsewhere? What are the factors that make you want to transfer? College feels hard. But because of the struggles we endure during that intimidating first semester, we grow and mature so much in this stage. We’ll even come to love it in our adult years. College will not always be the best four years, but perhaps these imperfections are the exact aspect that makes it the best four years.