The transition from high school to college shocked me. It seemed like an impossible hurdle, one that I initially jumped reluctantly.
Let me paint you a picture. High school experiences truly influenced who I am today. I am fortunate enough to hold good memories because I know a lot of people who wanted to leave high school as soon as they could. People grew tired of homework and friend drama, but I love school and I love learning.
I didn’t want high school to end because I didn’t think life could get any better than that.
Sure, I had my fair share of boy drama, friend drama and family drama, but by the time senior year hit, I was vice president of the student council, drum major of the marching band, playing on the girls’ varsity tennis team, portraying a lead in the spring musical and getting straight A’s.
These activities defined me because I really cared about everything I participated in throughout high school. I genuinely dedicated my time to them. It stemmed from my fear of not being good enough and pressure that I placed on myself to do my best. I did everything I could as well as I could, and I was proud of myself for it. This point of view is something that I still live by today in college. I value dedication and hard work very highly and see it as very admirable.
Naturally, I arrived at Penn State just as ambitious and excited to be involved in what I care about. I signed up for over 15 clubs during the first week of my freshman year last semester. Looking back on it now, the fact that I believed I could be in 15 places at the same time is truly laughable. I soon realized the lesson my dad has been trying to teach me for years–even though I may want to, it’s impossible to do everything. It’s impossible to make a difference in as many organizations that I can. It’s more effective to be involved in what makes me the happiest. As hard as it is to admit defeat, I’m now happier and less stressed than I’ve ever been..
So, that’s the end, right? Wrong.
There’s another layer to this–one that’s frightening to admit. Anxiety. Towards the end of my senior year of high school, I began to have anxiety and the occasional panic attack at the thought of leaving my friends, leaving my family, and having to start over at Penn State. It got to the point where I was scared to attend my own graduation. (I did put on a brave face and go, even though it made me upset and anxious.) It’s necessary to realize that moving on is just a part of life and that there are new opportunities that will ultimately be better and more exciting. At Penn State, no one knows my past. No one knows that I sing opera and dance en pointe. No one knows that I play saxophone and piano. No one at Penn State is the best friend that made life-changing memories with me.
I didn’t want to face the truth that no one would know me like they knew me in high school. My sense of purpose and duty was unmatched. It frightened me to have to find a new purpose and new friends at Penn State. Through my transition to college, I’ve learned that it’s okay to mess up. Imperfection is okay. It’s also alright and even encouraged to have fun instead of work all the time. I’m a completely different person than when I arrived at Penn State last fall and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Instead of being the person who had to be perfect all the time, I’m now a person who accepts and even embraces my faults. No longer do I beat myself up over irrelevant, meaningless setbacks. For example, if I don’t achieve perfect straight As, I can still be proud of myself, knowing I did my best. I’m now a person who finds it easier to not care about what others think. Being unapologetically me is a beautiful thing and being unapologetically you is a beautiful thing, too.
At Penn State, I have a wonderful support system of friends who always have my back. I am involved in the activities that mean the most to me, but not too involved to the point where I am unnecessarily stressed out. I am assistant music director of the Singing Lions, a show choir and I write for the arts section of the Daily Collegian (oldest student-run newspaper at Penn State). I help the beautiful organization that is THON through Dancer Relations. Penn State is truly the “happy valley” for me. I’m looking forward to the countless other life lessons and opportunities coming my way in the future.