Hi. Listen. I just want to let you know that you’re okay. I’m sure you’ve been told by now that your first year will be rough and that everything will be alright eventually. However, I know what the ambiguity of this advice feels like when you’re sitting alone in your Lewis double eating rice and Sriracha for dinner. The bad news: you’re eating too much Sriracha and it will turn your insides red and make you think you’re shitting blood. The good news: You are not alone. You’re not even close to alone.
I spent most of my first year at Kenyon feeling like I tricked someone into letting me attend the school. My CommonApp essay masterfully hid the fact that I didn’t know how to properly study for an exam or make new friends or do laundry or call home without crying afterward. I felt ashamed that I’d spent the summer talking about how excited I was to leave for school when in reality the transition wasn’t so smooth. I didn’t immediately become Cool College Me. I avoided eye contact with people I’d met at parties because I assumed they didn’t remember me. I half-assed assignments because I knew they were terrible before I even started. I felt discouraged as peers changed their profile pictures from their lives back home to aesthetically blurry group photos with their new LifeLong Kenyon Friends™.
In reality, most of this was in my head. In fact, I think the the biggest mistake I made my first semester was assuming I knew anything about anything. I know now that the peers smiling in group photos were experiencing the same stress of amoeba-like friend groups and everyone felt isolated at one point. Nothing is set in stone your first few months at Kenyon. This is hard, and much of your first year feels like grasping for stability that simply doesn’t exist yet.
Loving Kenyon was a process. There was no morning when I woke up and decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and become the person I wanted to be. That person doesn’t really exist. (and probably won’t have nearly as many amazingly embarrassing stories from their first year…remember them! they are comedic gold!). I still don’t have everything figured out. There is no exact recipe to feel adjusted and happy here, and I still have weeks where the amount of times I’ve cried outnumbers the amount of showers I’ve taken. However, I can tell you that I’m doing my laundry more often and eating more meals in Peirce, and sometimes those little steps make all the difference.
Eventually, I found places where I felt welcome and people whose friendship and support helped me realize I wasn’t alone. This gave way to the realization that I had things to offer our Kenyon community of freaky bois and lizard people and Ganter goblins. But don’t get me wrong, this took time. A long time. Longer than you want to admit to your friends and family back home and maybe even yourself. But it will happen. I promise you, feeling at home at Kenyon will be so so worth it.
Just in case you needed to hear this again: you’re okay. Whatever you’re doing or however you’re feeling is okay. Trust me. Now please go take a shower.