To All the Girls Struggling…in College

Photos taken by Leigh Shields

There will come a time where all the hurt and confusion you feel right now will be just a memory.

You waited patiently for months, hoping for an answer and a chance. You searched through Facebook and Instagram looking for the perfect roommate. You fought a herd of people in hopes of the best dorm, and finally, it was here. You made it to UTK. The place you are supposed to make life-long friends and make the memories of a lifetime.

Yet, here we are mid-semester, and your classes are harder than you thought. That exam is more stressful than it's worth. Maybe, it seems as if you are always alone, standing like a small fish in this huge pond. Maybe, your dorm is not your home, and the home you long for seems so far away. College is supposed to be fun. Everyone told you it would be fun: the movies, your teachers, your parents, but maybe, you’re not having fun. Maybe, you’re drowning.

In reality, these things take time. It is hard to adjust to campus life. It is hard to live with someone you’re just getting to know. It is hard to find your place when it seems like everyone else has found theirs. It is hard to reconcile the life of your past with this one. Yet, in those moments, when it all seems too overwhelming, remember this.

You are not alone. There are thousands of other people at UTK who feel the same way that you do. I guarantee you that there is someone else who dislikes their dorm as much as you, who is feeling the load of college classes as much as you are, who is missing their home and family as much as you are. Know that this is only a phase in this chapter of your life. It will take time. It will take effort, but there is a place for you on this campus. There is a home to be made here. This is the beginning of a new chapter in your book of life. I can’t guarantee that you will always feel at peace within yourself, but I can guarantee that there is a light to be seen.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take action.  I mean, no one said it would be easy. Make your space a home. Decorate your dorm. Get to know your roommate just a little bit better, and remember that not everyone is best friends with their roommate from freshman year. Communication is key.

Don’t forget to call your old home and check up on your family and friends. They miss your voice just as much as you miss theirs. Utilize campus resources. Attend that tutoring session. Your professors are there to help and do not want to see you fail.

Take the initiative. Talk to the people in your classes. Find a club on campus that interests you. There’s people in it that love what you love. Don’t be afraid to reach out and find them, and if they seem to be unreachable, create the club that draws them to you. There are plenty of things here to do and see, and you can’t let yourself be too afraid or sad, or overwhelmed to try some of them out. That is where you make that life-long friend, have new experiences and create the stories that come together to describe the “best years of your life.”

College is fun. That is not a lie that is constantly parroted by the movies, but what they don’t tell you is that college is what you make it. Opportunities may fall into your lap, but it is your responsibility to grab them and move forward. You have to find your version of fun because it does exist here. Welcome the idea of change.

Right now, things are hard. But, with time and effort, it will get better. There is no greater promise that I can give you than that.