Chapter 8: Last Year Was Complicated
I mentioned in a chapter once before that I was going to spend a chapter in the "near future" talking about my freshman year of college and how that led me to agreeing to start writing a blog for Marist Youth. Now that September is upon us and school is about to start (or has started already in some cases), I have decided that the “near future” would be today. I am completely aware that a lot of people that I'm friends with are beginning college this year specifically, so I want to let them know that this post isn't meant to scare you or make you feel pessimistic. I fear that whenever I tell my story, I will evoke negative emotions and thoughts out of people and have them prepping for the worse. This is just to let you know that college isn't something that you can guess on & be right or wrong about. It exceeds expectations on many things and doesn't even come close to meeting expectations on other things. You can't go in with any expectations, my friends. You just gotta go into it open to anything and down for everything. Before I start, remember that these are just my experiences that are shared in hopes to teach people lessons, not to receive attention or “it gets better” messages (which are well appreciated, by the way).
It has been shoved down everyone's throat from the beginning of high school that college will, academically, tell you about yourself the moment you arrive. You can have immaculate high school study habits that will serve as useless and mediocre the minute you reach a college setting. It will drag you for filth if you're not ready. College is not your high school sequel. In fact, college demands that you become a different person. This did not come as a shock to me. I wasn't ready per se, but I went into it thinking that I would do my best and things would be adequate. For the first semester, I was right. I never thought I could do it and it didn't even seem real at the time, but I completed my first semester with a 3.4 GPA. Things were excellent. However, the moment I began my second semester, I was already behind. Not because of my slacking, but because things got harder (I did slack, though). It was hard to keep my feet on the ground. I was weeks behind in all of my classes, I was stressed about my financial aid (that comes later), the fact that I had no friends (later), I had no motivation, and everything just fell apart. There literally came a point during finals week where I was in one of the diners on campus & it seemed like everyone around me was having THE time of their lives (The "Divine 9" fraternities and sororities were strolling in the basketball court behind me, bouncy houses were on campus, people were playing volleyball outside, the weather was BEAUTIFUL, etc.) and I was stuck inside writing a 20+ paged paper that I procrastinated all semester on that was due in two days while trying to study for my other finals. I remember being on the FaceTime with my best friend, Nadiyah, so she could keep me company and watch my mental breakdowns LIVE on camera and I thought to myself "Wait. Do I have a final today? Crap, do I have a final today?" I check my email, lo & behold I have a English final in under two hours. On top of that, it's an open book final & I never bought the book. So here I was in this diner in this booth on this laptop having a huge mental breakdown while on FaceTime with Nadiyah as I try to quickly study for a final I didn't even know I had in under two hours, finish typing a 20+ paged paper on a topic I didn't care about that much, attempt to finish a study guide for a math class taught by a teacher who hated me, try to fit in time to eat and pee, and make it all look sexy! I passed the final and finished the paper, but in the end, I failed two classes that semester while getting 3 B's & 1 A. I was relieved because it could have ended worse, but looking back, I know that it's going to bite me in the ass when I'm not expecting it. For the love of GOD, do NOT be like me!
Phew! Okay, next.
You would hope that it’s like the media portrays it to be. The party culture, the liberating aspects of it all, the new environment, etc. has been advertised widely since the dawn of time. But here's the thing: when you see those TV shows or movies, it's all about the attractive people who dorm on campus who are seemingly financially stable (because no one talks about how they're paying for their tuition) and are extroverted. It's all about finding their identities through the people around them and blah blah blah. I didn't get that. Instead, I chose to attend a predominately commuter school filled with people who would rather stare at their phone then make conversation with the person next to them. I'm normally an extroverted person. I feel like I discussed this. College made me SO introverted, it's crazy. For those who know me personally know that I will talk your ears off if I get the chance. I go on campus and I talk to NO ONE. First semester wasn't like that, though. I had a one specific class where I was friends with literally everyone until the semester ended. Before that, I would always hang out with them and always joke around with them effortlessly. I thought they were my people. My community. But I quickly learned that there is a difference between a friend and a classmate. They were just classmates. I only consistently talk to one of them now (shoutout to Ashley) and the rest will just see me on campus and act like they don't know anyone. On top of that, my graduating high school class and I always had quite a rocky relationship. Throughout this past year, I lost contact with most of them in an attempt to bury the past and because I thought that I was dodging toxicity. For the most part, I was. However, thing was that they were all having beautiful lives out of state. Out of town. Out of sight. I had severe FOMO whenever I saw them living seemingly better lives without me while I was stuck in the same town literally 15 minutes away from my high school. I wouldn't even want to return to Roselle Catholic because I didn't want to look like I failed in making a life outside of high school, so I'm living vicariously through everyone. Socially, last year was complicated to say the least.
Okay. If I don't talk about this, NO ONE WILL! Do yourself a favor and pay attention to this:
FINANCIAL LITERACY generally denotes “one’s understanding and knowledge of financial concepts”; can also refer to “knowledge and skills related to money management and can include the ability to balance a checkbook, manage a credit card, prepare a budget, take out a loan, and buy insurance”. PLEASE become financially literate. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING! College will make you have bad credit before you even know what credit even is. You will be put in debt before you even HAVE debt. Listen. You may not even be familiar with the financial sacrifices your parents or guardians make for you, but become aware and thank them. Education is the key and the key costs MILLIONS a pop. Education is expensive. Before when I mentioned all of the academic issues I had, it all stemmed from the fact that in order to go to school, bills had to be paid. And financial aid, sis? FINANCIAL AID? FAFSA? Frank Ocean will release another album before your financial aid clears. Your school will let you go broke before you get educated and NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THAT!
Freshman 15. 'Nuff said. Next!
I was battling an on again off again case of depression ever since, maybe, my junior year of high school. I’m working through it day by day, but I think that my freshman year of college made it all worse. My spirit weakened so much over the course of last semester. I wasn't the same Lucien, y'know? It didn't feel good. I wasn't who I wanted to be, I wasn't doing what I wanted to do, I didn't have any friends, I wasn't acting/singing/performing. I was going though so much and I was afraid to tell people. I always have a problem to broadcast and I didn't want to burden anyone, even if they reassured and encouraged me to do so. I couldn't. I kept questioning God. I kept thinking why things haven't been getting better. Why were things such a mess? Why wasn't college what I wanted it to be.
But that was just freshman year, ladies & gentlemen (and those who have yet to choose).
The thing I want to get across is that these moments are not forever. These feelings and problems are not permanent. I am still struggling in all facets of college, but I am working to make the progress I need to make. For starters, to put myself out there more, I'm going more clubs & I joined the Theatre Conservatory at Kean. I already met so many wonderful actors and actresses. Academically, I already set goals for myself and put up a vision board listing all the things I want to accomplish this semester. I also reconnected with many people from Marist affiliated events and my old classmates from RC so I can talk to them whenever I'm feeling low. I still have to figure everything else out, but I know that it's all going to be okay. Above all, I got God. We're gonna do this together.
With that said: Ready for round two, college?
Sincerely Yours Sometimes,
PS: SONG OF THE WEEK: Ariana Grande - Breathin (Every time I post, I will include a song that may or may not correlate with the topic I write about. This is me thanking you for reading my posts by gifting you with good music.)