Personal Essay: Starting College

[Image Description: Two people on a rainbow background with the words: "I am where I am supposed to be, I am thriving, I have strong friendships that bring me joy"

This piece focuses on the college experience, but we know that not every young person wants to or is able to attend college. Regardless of your path, Risen is a community for all youth. We hope that our content can support you and that you will share your voice, story, and knowledge whether on Risen or whatever platform you choose. 

   Starting college was hard. I was leaving my family and relationship, leaving my high school after a senior year transformed by the pandemic, I hadn’t made friends online before arriving, Covid restrictions made socializing harder, and I have always been someone who takes a while to transition and make new friends. So my first year, my first semester especially, was hard. I spent a lot of time alone and a lot of time feeling sad or incapable for not making friends the way it seemed like everyone else could. I don’t say this to scare anyone, I say this because last year me desperately needed to know that other people felt the same as me. Last year I went to two free counseling sessions through my university (which is an awesome resource that your school might have too!). Both times when I expressed my loneliness, there immediate response was “it well get better” but also “so many students are saying the same thing.” So I promise, you’re not alone.


    I am also saying this because things do and have gotten better. My new environment forced me to learn how to reach out to people. A simple: “Hi! We’re in blank class together and you seem cool. Would you want to get lunch/dinner/hang out sometime?”. 95% of the time they have said yes and 75% of the time we have become friends. I showed up to club meetings and signed up for programs even when it felt awkward and uncomfortable. Some of these activities led to friendships while others have given me fulfillment and growth in other ways. Through all of this I have relearned, and am still learning, how to not compare myself all the time. It is hard to feel socially successful when people around me are constantly with friends and large groups. But I know that my time alone is important to me and that’s not how I would be happy.


    Last week I moved back to school to start my second year. There have still been difficult moments, there are still ways I want to and will grow, but I can confidently say that I am where I am supposed to be, that I am thriving, that I have strong friendships that bring me joy. And I know, however your path leads you, you too will build a beautiful home that is right for you.