Written by Alyssa Friedman
When I imagined my college experience I always thought I would be far away from home in a new state living a “typical” college lifestyle. I would get to live in a dorm, meet a bunch of new people, and have freedom that I have never experienced before. College is something I looked forward to for a long time, although I never imagined it would be an experience that changed my outlook on life as much as it has.
My first few days away at college were some of the most emotionally exhausting days of my life.
The transition from living at home with my own personal space and comforts I was used to, to living in a dorm was really hard for me to adjust to. While this transition is stressful for many people, living with anxiety made my experience extremely difficult. The numerous new things going on in my life made my head spin and my mental health suffer. I immediately knew that I was going to have to make a change if I expected to keep up with a college course load. Commuting to school from my dad’s house (which is 15 minutes from campus) wasn’t my ideal college living situation. I felt disconnected from campus and the new people I had met, although I noticed that living in a familiar space with the privacy that I needed helped keep me sane. I was jealous of people that were able to handle the transition and I felt inferior; it was something I felt that I physically could not do. Coming face to face with the realization that I needed to put my mental health first was a tough pill to swallow, but now that I am halfway through my sophomore year I have come to see that it was the best decision I could have made.
Even though I am living at my dad’s house, it is really important for me to drive back to my house I grew up in every weekend.
This allows me to really decompress from the week and take a step away from the overwhelming college life. Having a “typical” college experience is something I felt was expected of me, yet I realized that was something that wasn’t working for me. Something I wish I had known going into college is that there is no such thing as doing college “the right way”. The end goal is to get a degree, and the path there is something you pave for yourself. Expectations to do what most people do shouldn’t hold you back from making decisions that are the best for your mental health.
Although my college experience isn’t what I expected it would be, it is what is best for my situation. I go home when I need to, spend as much time on campus that makes me comfortable, and at the end of the day I am the healthiest version of myself.