It was August of 2014. I was a freshman. This picture was taken in between classes on my first ever day of college. Back then, I had no idea who I would turn into at this university. I didn’t know what things I would learn about myself, or in what ways I would mature. I didn’t know what lessons I was in for, and I definitely didn’t expect a lot of the things that happened. I didn’t even know what I was going to be studying for the next four years! I was just a young high school graduate, ready for the adventure that is college.
My freshman year was an interesting one to say the least. I explored a lot of new activities, and since I was undecided, I went out to a lot of club meetings and took a lot of fun elective classes. Freshman year, fall semester was a great one.This was college, what I was so excited to experience. I had so much freedom, I didn’t even know what to do with it! I had really spread my wings and learned to fly. Only to come crashing down my spring semester. There is the common understanding among college students that spring semester is always harder and longer than fall semester. This was definitely the case for me. Since I found college easy my first semester, I expected it to stay that way… boy, was I wrong. And I have the GPA to prove it. That spring semester was also when I started to realize that I liked girls, which provided a good amount of distractions. I became less and less focused on my academics. I barely went to class, and when I did, I was not focused at all. To contribute to my turmoil this semester, I had a friend pass away during finals week. It was really hard to maintain a focus on school and grades for me this semester. Life has a way of throwing a lot at you and at this point in my life, I was really bad at handling it all.
If you have ever heard of the term “sophomore slump,” that phenomena was something I personally experienced. My sophomore year was kind of a filler. I did not participate in much. I actually struggled a lot with anxiety and depression this year. I was dealing with one of my toughest heartbreaks to date. It was really hard since she was at one point my best friend. When we got involved and it all went to garbage, not only did I lose someone I was interested in romantically, but I lost my best friend. I went through all the cliches. I even cut my hair to release all that negative energy. I had been thinking of doing it for a while and when this happened to me, I thought, “What better time than right now?”
Though I was going through this terrible time, there were some brighter days at the end of the road. I finally picked a major! After taking an Intro to Linguistics course to fulfill a social science general education requirement, I realized linguistics was something I liked enough to dedicate my time to study. I also started spending more time with my close friends I had neglected previously. Despite being so hurt by the heartbreak, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. The “relationship,” if you can even call it that, was extremely toxic. She was the first girl I tried anything with, and it was likewise for her. She actually identified as straight when I met her. It was a completely new experience for the both of us, and I genuinely didn’t know what to expect. As time went on, she proved to be someone who just appreciated the affection I provided, and didn’t reciprocate them or care how her actions affected me. This, alongside the fact that most of my friends went to study abroad that year, made sophomore year a lonely one for me. I threw myself into my work for the Department of Residential Life and school to try to make up for the terrible GPA I had earned the spring semester of my freshmen year. Even though I tried working harder to get better grades, spring semester always seemed to get me. I didn’t do as well as I wanted, yet again. At the end of this year, I didn’t have much to show for it in terms of academics or involvement, but I did do a lot of personal growth. I think as much as I hated living through it, it was essential to my development.
My junior year has been the most rewarding year of college so far. I have become more involved. I got a job promotion, and went from being a wellness assistant for residential life, to a resident assistant. My social life has been at its prime, and my academics, as well. Last semester, I took some very interesting classes, and even picked up a second minor, in Sociology. My GPA is on the rise and I’m hoping it stays that way! I am also as far out and comfortable about my sexuality as I have ever been. I am currently seeing a new girl, and I really like her. Even though this year has been amazing to me in comparison, there have still some struggles. I had another friend pass away last semester. It was definitely hard to maintain a focus on college and all it encompasses while grieving. My best friend Kerry can tell you all about that in her blog. I managed this death a lot better than I did the one my freshman year. My grades did not slip as much, and I found myself coping in healthier ways. I have gone to visit Counseling and Psychological Services. This shows me how much growth I did, mentally. I used to not accept or ask for help, even when I was drowning. Now, being the person I am, and having experienced all I have, I refuse to let my anxiety or depression overpower me like they have in the past.
Next year will be my last year at this university. It is definitely bittersweet, especially after reflecting on my college journey thus far. For my last year here, I will be an Executive Board member for the Undergraduate Anthropology Association, which we are starting from the ground up.This is very exciting for me, being as I have dabbled in involvement here at the university, but never found a real fit, or something I was extremely passionate about. Since this club encompasses my major, I feel it’s very personal to me, my career, and my interests, so I am willing to invest a lot of my time and energy into it. I will also continue to be a Resident Assistant. I will also be turning 21! With these opportunities and changes lined up, I am very excited to dive head first and see what I will undergo in my last year here.
I really think embracing my sexuality really helped me grow. If I hadn’t, I would not have undergone such an intense personal growth. Looking back as the person I am now, there are definitely things I wish I did differently, and definitely things I wish I could have avoided. But the fun thing about life is that you take it as it comes to you. No one has any of this stuff figured out. The academics, the romance, the social life; it’s all unpredictable. You never know what to expect until it happens. I certainly did not expect to discover my sexuality once I arrived here. I think it’s really important to enter college with an open mind. You never know what you’re bound to learn about yourself. There’s no rule book, you make the best of your time here, and it all works out one way or another. The only important thing is to surround yourself with a good support system and to remember it’s completely OKAY to make mistakes. How else are we supposed to learn?
Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Advisement Services Center. These are their stories and their voices.
UAlbany’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center
UAlbany Counseling Center’s LGBTQ Empowerment and Support Group
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