Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Tell Freshman Year Me

The best four years of my life are coming to a close this Friday. I’m graduating from the University of Georgia with a B.S. in Psychology, with an emphasis in neuroscience, and a minor in Art History. I’ll be heading off to Macon, Georgia in July to start law school at Mercer with a full ride. I should feel ecstatic about this next chapter of my life, but now that I’m here all I want to do is rewind.

My parents always told me that I would enjoy college. They told me I would find my people, people just like me that were cool with being uncool and didn’t mind if all I wanted to talk about was the news or science facts or cats. I didn’t believe them. Middle school and high school had been so awful that I didn’t believe that any form of school could be okay, much less actually enjoyed. I wish I had listened to them. I went into my freshman year cautious, guarded, and terribly shy. I wanted to make new friends because I was lonely, but I was so scared being bullied or hated that I really struggled with actually connecting with people. Four years later and I could become BFF’s with just about anyone. I re-learned that the world is full of good intentions, but not always good people, and that’s okay. Being kind and open will get you much further than being cautious.

I’ve never been good at math and science, or at least not as good at that as I am at writing. My parents always encouraged me to follow my passion, but I was dead set on having a career that would allow me to make enough money to support a family. I chose science as a freshman because I saw the potential for a safety net – I could go to school and do just okay and still end up making enough money to be considered successful. Three semesters into my science courses and I was calling my dad, in tears, on a monthly basis because I hated my classes so much. The one thing I learned from this? Do something you’re good at for a career, and save the stuff that makes you happy for your weekends. Science fills me with wonder and excitement, but taking science classes made me want to pull my hair out. I just flat out wasn’t good at them, so I didn’t enjoy them. It made science feel like a chore rather than an ambition. You might disagree with me here, but my advice is to never let the thing that brings you joy become your day job, because then it feels like a chore.

Walking into college, I decided that I wasn’t here to have fun, I was here to make a career for myself. I was so driven. I wanted to work in a lab and have internships with the CDC and go places. Only in my junior year did I actually stop myself and say “hold up, I have the rest of my life to work, but if I go out with friends or wake up early to watch the sunrise instead of applying for a second job I’m going to have so much more fun”. Junior year I changed my mindset, added a minor that made me happy, stopped freaking out about adulthood, got an internship in something that wasn’t science, decided on going to law school instead of getting my Ph. D. (still might happen one day, though), and started living. Wow. Not only did my quality of life improve, my grades did too.

Now that my undergrad life is coming to a close I’m beginning to realize how much I have truly loved this chapter in my life. I’m glad I embraced it, even though it took a few semesters. As I head off into law school I am reminded of how lucky I am that I have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

Go Dawgs!

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