I’ve been staring at this document for days trying to figure out what wisdom I can share in this column, trying to remember what I needed to hear as an incoming first-year. In all honesty, transitioning to college life can be tough. There are new faces, new experiences and new dynamics to navigate, all of which can be overwhelming. Ultimately, I think the most important thing to do is give yourself a break. Beginning college, and subsequently entering adulthood, is new and it’s okay to feel somewhat lost. I just turned 20, and I can guarantee you that you are not alone in feeling the way you do.
My first year at Elon University was anything but smooth. I was five hours away from home, didn’t really know anyone and found it difficult to feel like I belonged. On top of that, there were few faces on campus that looked like mine. To put it plainly, it was hard, and it all felt like too much to handle. Looking back, I wish I had just taken all of the pressure off. I think I had this ideal in my head of what college should have been and that ideal held me back from just experiencing college for what it was.
Later in the year, I began to feel more comfortable with Elon and college life. I found people I related to. I found a true passion for learning. I found new parts of myself. Even though my Elon experience started off rocky, I’ve accomplished so much and been blessed with so many opportunities in my time here. Adjusting takes time. Finding your footing and your place takes time.
Now, I mentioned earlier that part of my difficulty in adjusting to Elon came from not seeing faces like my own, Black faces. I have often been the only Black person in a class or in an organization, which can be disheartening. Being surrounded by people who didn’t understand a large part of my identity felt isolating. However, I found a support system through the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education, the Black Student Union and other Black organizations on campus. You never have handle challenges alone. There is always someone willing to listen and give you some advice. We are here for you.
I know I’ve talked a lot about challenges and difficulties, but I don’t want you to think your next year will be full of doom and gloom. It won’t be. You’ll have a great year. Know that no matter what challenges you experience, you will come out of them stronger and more knowledgeable than you were before. To paraphrase Kendrick Lamar, you gon’ be alright.