As we enter the month of September, I find myself surprised with how quickly life has seemed to settle down. The chaos of orientation week quietly slipped away with the start of the semester and I finally started to call Cornell home. A month ago, I never imagined myself reaching this point.
I have long since imagined what my first day of college would be like. Middle school afternoons were spent browsing through “A Day in the Life: (insert university here)” and the feelings of independence and freedom rushed in like excitement coursing through my veins. It was always a foggy image: a brick building surrounded by lush green trees and a hammock in the background. Students were throwing frisbees at each other under the clear blue sky. My image of college started to form with stories I’ve heard from others, images from the internet and of course the occasional chick flick movie: What, like it’s hard?
In all my years of imagining what college would be like, I haven’t actually accepted that it would soon become a reality for me. The possibility of college has always excited me, yet now that it is in my hands, there is nothing I want to do more than just hide under my covers and pray for life to pause.
This summer, I was having a brief conversation with my boss about this after she asked me how I felt about the big move. She gave it to me straight: “Adin, you’re afraid of growing up.” Entering college meant no more mistakes, no more carefree attitudes and no more teenage bliss. It was time to face your responsibilities and prepare yourself for internships, interviews and job offers. Boring! College was a reward for all of my efforts as a high schooler, but now that it’s here, the fact that it will be over before I know it has become real. Time is running out before I’m stuck behind a desk like all washed-up 26-year-olds, watching as my life withers away before a 24-inch desk monitor.
Perhaps I’m feeling this way because I haven’t gained a sense of what I want to do in the future. Or maybe it’s because there are no clear guidelines for how I should spend my next four years. Things are easier when you’re younger. Parents are your safety nets and schools prioritize your education. Now that I’m in college, I am in charge of who I want to be. The level of responsibility required in college is a sudden jump from what most are used to. Yet it is only through recognizing my own privilege of experiencing the comfort of childhood under two supportive and loving parents that I have come to accept the responsibilities that fall upon me. I was fortunate enough to be able to explore in a structured environment when I was younger and to make mistakes and learn from my parents. Now that I’m older, I have matured enough to be my own guide.
As I began to pack my life away in my suitcases, I started the process of letting go. With every new box formed, I packed away my old mementos to leave behind under my sister’s care. I let go of the security my parents created for me to venture off on my own and find my own path. I have accepted the loss I was feeling and embraced the growth I will encounter. College has been everything I expected, but at the same time, nothing could have prepared me for the change.
To my fellow first-years, to those who are excited for a new chapter in their lives and those who are afraid to close one: believe it or not, we are in this together. We will all step foot onto campus, find our groups, find new groups, laugh, eat, sleep, cry and throughout all that, find that things do eventually become okay. It may take days, weeks or months, but before we know it, the year is over and we find ourselves counting down the days before we can return again.
Adin Choung is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected] A Dinner is Served runs every other Thursday this semester.