I didn’t have many friends growing up.
I realized it was because of me; I was incredibly shy and unfortunately unapproachable. In middle school I remember sitting alone at a table in art class. My classmate, Theda sat at the table behind me and asked me how my project was coming. I only gave her a simple, one-word answer and retreated back into my own world.
I went into high school knowing that I wanted to change and become more communicative in order to make friends. I remember feeling nervous about that day. It wasn’t the new building, the potentially harder schoolwork or the sea of unfamiliar faces. My first day jitters were a result of nothing more than feeling my own pressure to live up to my own expectations—finally making friends.
I ended up walking on eggshells those first few days. Every person I talked to was a potential friend. Theda and I started talking because we had almost every class together and we always arrived at school insanely early. I started to open up a bit. It was that easy. Once I discovered my newfound friendliness, the social aspect of high school came naturally.
Having mastered high school, I thought I had nothing to fear as the first day of college approached. But the jitters returned. And as a student who just finished her second year of college, I realized first day jitters in college, unlike in high school, don’t just happen on the first day.
There were the initial, obvious jitters that came along with moving into a different place for the first time. I had lived in the same house my entire life. Had I packed too much? Too little? What if I needed that Cranston High School East sweatshirt I left behind?
Naturally, at the first floor meeting, I felt those same jitters I had on the first day of high school. Which of these girls will be my friends? Will we like the same music? Are they as serious about school as I am?
But then there was another first day: classes. Would I make it to class on time on a big campus I didn’t know? What does a college classroom even look like?
As I was walking between classes on my very first day of freshman year, a guy asked me if I knew where Devlin Hall was located. I took an educated guess as if I was some high-and-mighty junior, even though I wasn’t totally sure of where it was, and ended up being correct. Jitters settled for a moment. Then I sat in on the wrong Spanish class for the entire fifty minutes. Jitters returned.
The list of jitter-stricken experiences went on: my first day at my on-campus job where I had no clue what I was doing and couldn’t understand my trainer’s accent. My first dinner at the dining hall by myself, where I kept my head down because I wanted people to think I was in a rush. My first off-campus party where I struggled to find proper “going out” clothes in my closet. My first club meeting for The Gavel, BC’s progressive student newspaper, nervous to share my article ideas. My first time by myself on the T trying not to look lost as I stared at the map.
The first day jitters persist for every first, even after freshman year—every first day of class, every move-in day, every new club meeting. Not to mention, there was the constant process of making friends in every new situation. These ongoing nerves can get annoying, but part of this feeling is what makes college, especially all the firsts, so exciting.
I’ve learned my jitters stem from something positive, from wanting to do everything right and from wanting to become fully accustomed to the college experience as I did so quickly in high school. Because college is full of new, unfamiliar experiences all along, first day jitters continue – but they always reflect a desire to succeed.