Before I left for college, I was given the following advice: “College may not be the best four years of your life, it may be the best three and a half years, it may be the best three years.”
I took this advice, but I did not take it too seriously. College would be an amazing four years for me. I just knew it. I couldn’t wait to step foot on campus in the fall of 2018. I was independent, ready to make new friends and secure in who I was. I was ready to take on life on my own, until I wasn’t, and reality smacked me in the face.
While it seemed like everyone around me was adjusting perfectly to our new lives, I was imploding.
I felt socially anxious and awkward, missing the comfort of my high school and home life. As someone who typically thrived in a close-knit community, I didn’t feel like I had that at Lehigh. I was just here, existing by fulfilling a natural science requirement and pretending it was fun to meet new people in Rathbone.
I dragged myself to my classes. I made small talk with those around me. I called my parents crying almost every day.
How could anyone ever think of college as the best four years of their life? This sucked.
During my second semester, I applied to transfer schools. I felt like I needed a fresh start, a second chance. While I was admitted to a different university, I couldn’t ignore a nagging feeling that I was supposed to stay at Lehigh. I was supposed to stick it out, and better days would come.
And eventually, they did.
In the fall of my sophomore year, I left to visit my best friend for a weekend and felt myself missing my life at Lehigh. I was excited to come back and see my friends. I didn’t feel the cloud of misery I normally felt upon my return to Bethlehem.
There wasn’t a magic formula. There was just time, a more open mindset and an onslaught of future opportunities.
My Lehigh experience has been everything a college experience should be.
I’ve been uncomfortable, sad, anxious and confused beyond belief during my time at Lehigh.
I’ve also been on top of the world during my time at Lehigh. I’ve laughed harder than I ever thought possible. I’ve made the most amazing, lifelong friends. I’ve had, hands down, the most enriching academic experience, thanks to the incredible journalism department.
My community found me.
As a journalism major, you join The Brown and White. Some of us do it for the mandatory credit, some of us do it to gain leadership positions. My intentions upon joining were simple: I would gain journalism experience, and it would be fun to be a part of a club. Little did I know just what this experience would bring to me.
I’ve met the most influential people in my Lehigh experience during my time on The Brown and White. I’ve learned how to overcome obstacles. I’ve truly felt a part of something bigger than myself.
I’ve learned to find comfort in the uncomfortable.
If college was the best four years, what good would that do? We grow when we are faced with an uncomfortable situation. If my college experience was easy, I wouldn’t be walking out of it as the person that I am today, someone who is much more ready to face the realities of life.
If college was the best four years, what do we have to look forward to in the future? I want the next four years and the following four years to be the best, knowing there will be ebbs and flows along the way.
In the spirit of growing out of my comfort zone, I am about to study abroad in Spain during my last semester as an undergraduate. Just when my life at Lehigh is extremely comfortable as a senior with my established life, I have to shake it up again because what is the fun in basking in my comfort?
I’m anxious to do something untraditional during my last semester as a student. I’m scared to leave my friends. I’m sad to say goodbye to a newspaper that has brought me so much joy.
But I’m ready because I know it will allow me to grow beyond the confinements of Bethlehem and who I’ve been during my time at Lehigh. It’s an experience that I have been waiting for and am ready for. Although it won’t be comfortable all the time, I know it’s worth it.
I’m not saying my final goodbye to Lehigh just yet, as I hope to return next year to pursue a master’s in what I joke about as my “redemption year.”
Looking back on my years at Lehigh makes me smile. I like the version of myself I’ve grown to be.
While my years weren’t always the best, they were mine.