Chemical spills, global warming and atomic bombs summed up my idea of college before my freshman year. Moving into a dorm room conjured up actual end-of-the-world-apocalypse-style scenarios in my mind. And it never made sense to me how everyone I knew said they were so excited for moving in and so excited to make new friends and so excited to meet their roommates. That just wasn’t me.
The day I graduated from high school, my countdown began. Picture one of those Armageddon-countdown clocks. Whenever I checked it, I got palpitations and panic attacks. I’m talking knees weak, arms spaghetti. I wasn’t excited at all. As the time grew shorter, my list of worries grew longer. My concerns included but weren’t limited to: What if my roommate hates me? What if she steals my clothes? Will the classes be ridiculously hard? Do I change in my room, or in the bathroom? What if I make no friends?
And last–but certainly not least–how am I expected to poop?
That last one especially hit hard, seeing as I’m an only child, and I’ve had a bathroom to myself since I was five. Dorm life was about to hit me like a ton of poop-shaped bricks.
I tried savoring my summer as much as possible and thinking about college as little as possible. I didn’t even start packing until two days before my move-in date. How am I expected to pour through back-to-school catalogues when my world (and freedom to be naked in my room) was coming to an end? My mom basically dragged me through Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond while I complained about my existential crises.
By the time that countdown clock finally reached zero, I was a mess. Panic attacks every night. Insomnia. Deep conversations with strangers on the metro about my future (they didn’t care at all).
Move-in day finally arrived. When my alarm clock went off, my eyes shot open like the opening scene to every corny movie ever made. During the car ride to University of Maryland, I somehow managed to surpass the nervous shakes. I was nervous vibrating. My mom tried taking my mind off of it, bless her heart.
As I arrived at UMD, typical move-in procedure ensued. Parents and angry younger siblings were everywhere. Overly perky RAs handed out keys. My dad grumbled about boys living on the same floor as me. It didn’t matter, seeing as I was pretty numb to all of it. Everyone’s voice sounded distant. I shot past the nervous vibrating into a fully catatonic state. With wide eyes and a laughable mental state, I stepped into the elevator and forgot to press my floor number. After rectifying that, I stumbled out of the elevator with my arms full of decorations and bedding. As I walked down the hallway, I counted the ascending room numbers as superstitiously as the evil numbers from LOST.
- I glanced inside. Two girls yelled at their RA over a forced triple. My heart dropped through my stomach.
- Girls already decorated their room. They’re laughing together. My heart fell out of my butt.
Finally. 6146. My room. The door was already ajar. I look up, and half of the room is already done and decorated. My half looks like a prison cell. My heart was still on the floor outside.
And there she was. My roommate. The person I was supposed to live with for 6 months. Weird, she didn’t have devil horns and she didn’t scream, “Welcome to Hell.” Instead, she smiled, reached out a hand and said, “Hi, I’m Maggie!”
The rest was herstory. My roommate and I shared a lot in common–our eight a.m. class, a love for the movie Heathers and our unstoppable feminist rage. Maggie and I quickly became close friends. Throughout our freshman year, we hosted movie nights in our room, took up yoga together and even managed to change in the same room.
As a whole, college isn’t the end of the world. Maybe the end of your free time and status as a debt-free individual, but it’s definitely not on par with 2012 on the Mayan calendar. If I could give my pre-freshman self some advice, it’d be to take a lot of deep breaths, and maybe start practicing some yoga poses ’cause they’ll kick your ass at first.
And I know what you’re wondering.
Did you ever poop?
Ladies and gentlemen, I pooped.
At first I thought I could hold it for 6 months. But somehow, that just didn’t pan out for me (can you believe it?). So yeah, it was awkward at first and I never really relaxed unless I knew everybody went home for the weekend. But I did it. And that’s how I know that college isn’t the end of the world.