College is what you make it

I often find myself able to relate to freshmen. Yes, I said it. I can relate to freshmen.

Freshmen are the ones who have just begun the rambunctious yet exhilarating roller coaster ride formally known as college. Freshmen are naïve to the hasty twists and ceaseless turns of higher education.

Maybe I relate so closely to them because being a military brat has put me in this same position more times than my word limit will allow me to recount.

Most students have been there, standing in front of the lion cage, a Res Life lanyard dangling from their neck, JanSport backpack strapped firmly to their shoulders and staring in awe as they watch Leo roar for the first time. I see moments like this and feel a pull to give freshmen advice I wish had been given to myself when I first arrived on campus.

My first semester overflowed with free T-shirts, fair-weathered friends and a terrifying amount of pizza. Though my life is filled with much of the same, from observation I can attest to having learned one simple lesson. Happiness begins outside your comfort zone.

Although I made some lasting friendships my freshman year, a few were clearly fleeting from the start. I had one friend in particular who was from out-of-state and would rather spend her time cooped in her room than meeting new people. She failed to understand strangers would not beat down her door and beg to be her new best friend.

By the end of the semester, my fair-weathered friend was angry. She took out her aggression through Twitter, describing how much she hated the campus and all of those who happened to inhabit it.

By April she declared she would not return the coming fall. By May she had dropped out of college and returned home with zero free T-shirts, pizza, friends or lasting memories. She wasted a year of her life and thousands of dollars throwing the world’s biggest pity party, sponsored by Netflix and angry tweets.

This story is not to say spending time alone is not an essential part of keeping one’s sanity — as an accredited loner, I can assure that it is. But organizations work tirelessly to put on events for students to interact, and meet each other and students should meet them halfway by stepping out of their comfort zone and attending these events.

The crucial point of this story is: College is what you make it. The responsibility of making this experience amazing rests solely on student’s capable shoulders. Although other’s sticks and stones can break your bones and their words may surely hurt you, it is worth the risk.