Take care of yourself first
I’m not going to lie, the transition from high school to college- no matter how far you are from home- is hard. You’re uprooted from home, your friends and family. Scroll down to Sara’s recent post for a little taste of what to expect and why you should still be so excited! Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exciting time. Now, a junior and fully adjusted, I’d say I’m having the time of my life! But, trust me, it was not without some bumps in the road.
My parents were 25 minutes away and I still definitely experienced fits of homesickness, loneliness and insecurity. It’s all part of the process of being thrown far, far away from your comfort zone. Along with all of that stuff you’re dealing with in private, there’s the overwhelming experience of orientation and the first few weeks of school in which you will be loaded with stimulation- meeting people, getting your schedule straight, etc.
Through it all, it’s important to remember to care for yourself, physically and emotionally. It might sound selfish, but honestly you should be a bit selfish. This is your experience, and in order to really enjoy it, you should try and be in your best physical and mental state. Through trial and error, I’ve found some ways I practice self-care that I hope will help you as you transition into a new phase of your life. We’re all different, so remember that these are just ideas and suggestions to get you started, especially if you’re feeling like you are in a bit of a rut.
1. Take some time to be alone
I know there’s a lot of activities going on and I’m not saying that you should miss out on any of those, but remember to take some time for yourself! This could honestly be just 20 minutes before you go to bed. I use this time to read, journal, draw. Ted-Talks and podcasts became a new obsession of mine (I’ll link some favorites below!). I especially enjoy journalism because it allows me to analyze how I’m feeling and record all the amazing things that have been happening in my life. I personally think it’s important to take a step back and recognize how you’re feeling away from all the excitement, how you’re really feeling!
2. Pay attention to your body and take care of it
For me, this means hitting the gym and eating right. It’s easy to fall into the “broke college student” stereotype and eat ramen every day or have too much from the cafeteria buffet. If you’re not a gym rat, don’t go forcing yourself to work out-- you’ll just end up resenting it. But do pay attention to your body, notice how you’re feeling, and do what works for you. This could mean yoga, walking, joining intramurals, meal-planning, etc. Healthy body, healthy mind!
3. Connect with what’s familiar
I was lucky freshman year to have family and friends visit frequently to watch my games. Seeing some familiar faces even once a week helped ease my transition. Not everyone has that luxury, but I also found Skype-ing high school friends, listening to my favorite throwback music, eating familiar food, and so on helped to control my feelings of loneliness (though not completely take it away of course). In a place where everything around me seemed to be changing, it felt nice to have some constants.
4. Notice the way people make you feel
They say that you find your best friends in college, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself, or the people you meet, to find them right away. You’re going to meet a lot of people, especially during orientation. Some will be keepers, some might not and that is a-ok. You’ve finally reached a point in your life that it’s only worth keeping people around that genuinely make you happy. So notice how you feel when hanging out with your new friends, notice if they make an effort to see you, get to know you, check up on you. You are worth the effort, and you should feel that way. (PSA: don't go too extreme and ice people out at the first impression either, all relationships take a little time)
5. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new!
This is something I only discovered recently, and I know it might sound counter-productive because the whole experience is out of your comfort zone but hear me out. I have a tendency to cling onto what is comfortable and that’s great until I start to feel like I’m in a rut- like my routine is repetitive and mundane. Five years ago I probably would have ignored it and just waited until I eventually didn’t feel that anymore. This year, I have begun incorporating new activities in my daily life which has helped me to minimize that feeling altogether. Basically, I've been saying yes to anything that excites me or intrigues me. Joining new clubs (even if my friends aren’t already in them), getting involved with committees and taking on their projects, trying new sports or other hobbies. Going camping in Joshua tree at the beginning of this year was so invigorating and made for awesome memories. Honestly, I think that’s what really set off the trend. Find your Joshua Tree!
Again, we’re excited for you and your college journey! Take it all in, have fun. There’s plenty of ways to do that and for me, finding a balance between my internal and external stimuli is super key to fully enjoying this experience and life!
As promised, a few Ted Talks that I find especially awesome, some of which inspired this post.
How to skip the small talk and connect with anyone
The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong
And a whole playlist!
By Kaitlyn Raymundo