When I was a first-year, feeling alone and afraid, I read a very helpful article that made me feel like I could maybe do, even enjoy, college. As my last fall semester at Kenyon begins and others commence their very first one, I think it’s time we revisit this topic of self-assurance and reflection as a marker for beginnings and ends. Time is a flat circle and we are living the same meta-narrative over and over again.
I want to start out by saying, to every freshman; I do not envy you. This exact time of the year is always awkward, but the first year is especially strange. You’re coming from an environment (high school/home) that you know exceptionally well with best friends and family that are at this point distinct and unchangeable parts of your soul. You are dropped in this brand new space with brand new people— many of whom will take time to warm up to/feel comfortable around. You will put yourself out there over a thousand times— introducing yourself with the well-known schpiel of name, hometown, and dorm. You’ll desperately scrape for any semblance of common interest and talk for as long as humanly possible.
You will get inevitably exhausted from this practice, some faster than others. There were definitely people that you found interesting or fun through this interactions, but first semester freshman year is one long ice cream social that you can’t escape. It gets old and you get anxious for the party to end. I do not miss this, any of this. I do not miss sitting at an over-crowded Peirce table with people that you don’t really know or like, but agreed to sit with because you don’t know anyone else on New Side. I do not miss the quiet dread of the everyday, because the fear that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the place for you— creeps in to the back of your head.
But that won’t last— at all.