College had always seemed like the land of opportunities. I daydreamed about meeting my roommates, attending college parties and the excessive amount of freedom I would have. I kept thinking how much fun it would be all throughout my senior year of high school and couldn’t wait to get started. My excitement only grew over summer and I anxiously anticipated the moment I could finally move in to my dorm and hit the ground running.
Well, I hit the ground running by having to get to campus a week before anyone else for a grueling week of 14-hour days.
Last minute I had decided to do marching band, which meant I had to arrive early for band camp. School hadn’t even officially started and I was already way too busy. In fact, I remember hurrying through the move-in process and having to hastily say goodbye to my parents before running off to the band room for our first meeting.
Rushed moments like this would become the norm in my life for the next few months.
I knew that college would be a lot more time consuming but I felt like I could take on the challenge. Having done marching band in high school, I thought I had a good sense of what the time commitment would be and didn’t think it’d be too much harder in college.
I was completely wrong.
Band entirely dominated the time when I was supposed to be getting accustomed to college and settling into a routine. I didn’t even fully get to meet and interact with my new roommate for a whole month. It was rough, but I put my head down and got through the first few weeks. I knew that if I made it through the hardest part of training the rest of the semester would be a lot easier.
Or, well, at least it would’ve been if I hadn’t somehow found myself rushing the band sorority.
I had become really close to the people I was with all the time, especially the people that played the same instrument as me. I enjoyed their company and started slowly learning about the music and service sorority they were in: Tau Beta Sigma. It seemed like a cool organization focused on helping others, and it was filled with people I was already friends with, so I was heavily encouraged to join.
Before I realized what was happening, I was rushing—spending way too much time at events and studying for the weekly membership tests. It wasn’t long before I realized academics had taken the backseat, but I was already committed to too many things.
The thing people don’t tell you about college is that it’s very, very easy to get distracted without clear consequences to not doing your work. I got so caught up in the band life that I forgot the whole point of going to college: studying and getting an education…a social life was on that list too, of course.
The stress of time-consuming practices mixed with the responsibilities of rushing and knowing I was falling behind on work all collapsed on me at once when I got injured and couldn’t fulfill a community service requirement I needed to pass a class.
I had put off the assignment and now I physically couldn’t do it. It was one of the lowest points in my life. My parents hadn’t approved of me joining the sorority in the first place and hearing their disappointed tone over the phone when I told them I might fail a class was heartbreaking. They had worked so hard to get me here and I was ruining it. I had never been so disappointed in myself.
Luckily, UF does have a drop policy and my advisor told me I could drop the class without fault. I would only have to pay back $300 in scholarship money, which I did of my own accord.
Starting my college career completely on the wrong foot was a huge blow. I had spread myself way too thin and lost sight of what was really important. I realized how easy it was to get wrapped up in activities and how the consequences could impact my whole life.
I ended up finishing the marching season and crossing into the sorority that semester, but decided over the summer to let both go. I realized that it just wasn’t something I was passionate enough to dedicate time to.
I’m thankful for the lessons the experience taught me. Even though I am now busier than ever, I learned that it’s OK to be really involved—as long as I keep a handle on my time commitments.