Nobody tells you how you’ll feel when you enter college for the first time. Nobody tells you how overwhelming it is when you stare at your course outlines, trying to remember how to write an essay or — even worse — take an exam.
Instead they say, “These will be the best days of your life!” or “You are going to enjoy this so much!” and you stare at them, thinking they must have forgotten.
They’ve forgotten the beginning. You can’t blame them: it’s easy to forget the beginning when you’re deep in the middle of something else.
Because nobody tells you that suddenly you’ll feel like the new girl again, trying to find a spot at the table. Is there room for me? You wonder. Instead of rational thinking, you curse the day you thought going to college was a good idea. It seems too hard. It feels too vulnerable. It looks too overwhelming. And quite honestly, it’s far too expensive.
These, you tell yourself, are solid reasons to quit.
And then you remind yourself that when you get a little stressed, you rarely make good decisions.
The part that scares you most is how you can literally feel all of your old wounds beginning to unravel, the stitches falling out. You can’t believe how you still don’t feel enough, how you still feel like you want to prove yourself.
Fear doesn’t get to win, you decide. Inadequacy and fear are finished setting up shop within you. They’re not permitted any longer. You choose to be brave, even when you hate how you’re feeling: loose and like you could fall apart at any moment, like the strings that are holding you together aren’t pulled quite tight enough.
Maybe in a few years you won’t remember how you felt when you decided to go to college. Maybe you’ll think the same thing they did: that these will be the best days of someone’s life. But right now that’s not the case.
So let me tell you how you feel: terrified and excited and severely confused by how emotional you are.
That’s okay. It’s alright to be at the beginning again.
Someday, when you’re back in your middle, when you understand that college might actually be good, you can look at someone else who is just starting off, and you’ll see how scary the beginning is. You’ll take a deep breath and remember the terror, and instead of affirming how wonderful their time will be, you’ll hold their hand and say, “It’s okay. It’s okay to be at the beginning. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel this way.”
Sooner or later, they’ll understand how good it is. They’ll laugh at their fear and think about how they probably didn’t need to feel that way.
Later, when it’s their turn to look at someone who is just starting off, they’ll hold that someone’s hand and remind them what we all need reminders of: it’s okay to be at the beginning.
In a few days you’ll enter college for the first time, and everything will be new. The people, the parking lots, the classes, the course outlines.
You are not inadequate.
You are not fearful.
You are, quite simply, at your beginning.