I distinctly recall the sheer joy of waking up on Christmas morning as a child. The air was filled with magic and mystery.
I would leap out of bed at 6 a.m. and pounce on my parents and force them to awake. My dad would play our favorite Christmas album as we sat near the fireplace, ready to open the presents we never knew we wanted.
There came a Christmas morning where I woke up and the magic was gone.
I was forced to watch my little sister gleefully open her presents from “Santa,” while I sat there in sorrow, overcome with jealousy that she had not yet lost the innocence of believing in Santa Claus.
I had always dreamed of growing up and doing so-called adult things. I wished to be like the cool high school kids since elementary school and dreamed of my college dorm before high school even started.
It baffled me, though, how every time I reached one of the milestones I had dreamed of, I was disappointed with my reality. I continuously found myself dreaming to be a little kid again.
Once I actually hit the point of adulthood, I realized it’s not so amazing at the top.
While I had been more than ready to start the next chapter of my life and go to college, I never fully understood what “growing up” would truly entail.
Even before I arrived on Lehigh’s campus, I found myself making decisions that would significantly impact the next half-year of my life. I was immediately overwhelmed by the concept of having to create my own schedule. Up to that point, a guidance counselor had always led the way.
Wow, I thought. What if I choose the wrong classes?
And as it turned out, I did choose the wrong classes. I anticipated that growing up would entail making more decisions, but transitioning to a completely independent lifestyle was not as glamorous as I had made it out to be.
The adult brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, but at the age of 19, we are forced to choose a major and essentially decide the entire course of our life. This impacts different people in different ways. Many students may be okay with the stark transition from co-dependence to independence, but many, like myself, believe that we were forced to grow up too fast.
I began experiencing a great amount of stress and anxiety as a result of my transition into college life.
I no longer had my mother reminding me to get a head start on my studying so I wouldn’t fall behind. I no longer had my teachers reminding us that homework was due. I now had to figure that out on my own.
I consider myself highly independent. I rarely need assistance from others to keep my life going. However, I entered college feeling lonely, lost and confused.
I have lost the feeling of security by going to college the same way I lost the feeling of Christmas magic when I was younger.
Despite how challenging these transitions have been for me, I have found solace in those who have loved and supported me. I have found an amazing group of friends to keep me on my feet and remind me who I am. I learned to not let the unfamiliar things in life bring me down.
Entering new stages of my life has been difficult, to say the least, but creating a support system to guide me through these transitions has been essential to my mental health and stability.
Just as I have found a close group of friends in college to remind me to do my homework and study for exams, I have created new Christmas traditions with my family to keep the magic alive.
I have realized that the hard things in life are what you make of them, and allowing yourself to be beaten down is both unproductive and depressing. I have found my happiness in those who love me and will continue to grow no matter what curve-balls life throws my way.
Julia DiRubbo, ‘21, is an Associate News Editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]