Pretending it’s easy makes it harder

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Managing Editor

Last semester when taking on my current position as managing editor, I took on the accompanying role of managing
the volunteer writers, photographers and designers for the paper. It was a little daunting at first, but I was excited from the very beginning. I thankfully had lists of names and numbers that our editor-in-chief had gathered from SOAR of incoming students who were interested in joining the Flor-Ala team.

In the first week of school I emailed or texted every single one of them and began adding them to a group message after they responded. Soon, we had our first meeting. I got to meet students who had moved here from all over to come to UNA, ones who were in a new place while still in their hometown and students who were non-traditional students in age, but were still so enthusiastic to take part.

Every single student who signed up over the summer didn’t get back to me. Every student who came to the initial meetings didn’t actually end up writing or designing. Life got in the way sometimes, and some decided it wasn’t their thing or their class schedules were too busy. It was all part of the process, and for me, I was just happy that people were showing up. Even if they didn’t all stick around, I hope it provided a safe place to land for those who were confused or lonely or lost. I know I was when I started college.

As I got to know these freshmen and other students, I learned that I hadn’t been a special case when I was in college. Everyone really struggled at first. I told this to many of them, but one of them confided in me that no one ever told her it was going to be this hard. She was right. No one told me either.

Everyone hears comments growing up that are something like “enjoy being in high school while it lasts” or “you have no idea how hard it is in the real world” or “you don’t know how easy you have it.” I’m not dumb, I know that not everyone has it easy at home or in high school, but nothing in my life truly ever prepared me for being alone.

Especially when you move far away from your hometown, no matter how badly you wanted to leave, it feels like gravel in your stomach those first few days you sit on the uncomfortable dorm carpet and realize that you better make some friends fast or no one will be looking out for you. Truthfully, the people I clung to in those very early days and weeks aren’t in my life anymore. I just needed to be around other people who were going through the same situation. However, as close as I thought I was to these people, no one expressed how hard of a time they were having.

There’s a popular mentality that you should “fake it until you make it.” As a child I remember reading Demi Lovato saying that in a magazine. I’m not dismissing the idea entirely, I just think we should end it when it comes to new life transitions.

Another popular mentality comes from the “Legally Blonde” movies. Elle Woods is famously quoted as saying, “What, like it’s hard?” and while I understand and appreciate the sentiment, yes, Elle, it is hard. College is hard, growing up is hard, especially when we’re growing up in a system that doesn’t teach us the things we actually need to know to succeed at basic everyday tasks.

Don’t mistake me as saying you shouldn’t go into things with a positive attitude. Make the best of everything. Romanticize your life. But don’t for a second feel guilty when you struggle. We all do, and the only way to get through it is to be a little more honest with each other.