I was feeling nostalgic and reading over some of the stuff that I wrote last year when I came across my freshman year reflection, which you can read below if you want, but you’re really under no obligation to (it’s under the horizontal line).
If you read it, you can see that I was really focused on home and my relationship between school and home. I think that speaks a lot to my experience my first year. I was so fixated on home and the people at home that I didn’t really give myself a chance to enjoy school. I did have a long distance boyfriend the whole year, so that would be a good reason why I wasn’t fully throwing myself into life at school. I lived in a single dorm room without a lounge on my floor, so that might also be why I didn’t like being away at college. I had a good group of friends but I lost that at the beginning of my second semester. That was pretty much my own fault, but it also left me stranded and alone, so that contributed to why I wasn’t all that fond of my Ithaca College freshman experience.
What I left IC last year with was relief that the year had finally ended and that I could come home, excitement for being home and getting to be with my friends from home, and a tentative hope for my second year. I end my freshman year reflection with a hope that things would be different, that I would make and maintain friends and be happy, be a better person than I was, and take hold of opportunities that came my way.
If you were my friend at college this year, then you know that I had a goal each semester. The goal for my first semester sophomore year was (irritatingly enough, I referred to myself in the third person when I talked about this to people) Amanda makes friends. I wanted to give myself the chance to build relationships with people, because last year I didn’t give myself the chance to do that, and I didn’t give the people here a chance at all.
Last semester, I gave people here at school the opportunity to get to know me, and I let myself be open to getting to know them. I became the happier version of myself and opened myself up to people. I read somewhere that if you fake confidence, you end up being confident anyway. I would say that’s exactly what I did, and that it’s what made me like myself more, and I guess what made other people like me more.
I finished freshman year at college with one or two friends that I could depend on. I am finishing sophomore year with a wonderful group of intelligent, fun, and ridiculous people that have let me spend time with them, get to know them, and that I’ve allowed to get to know me. They accept me for who I am and support me and are there for me, and I try to do the same for them.
I am so appreciative of my friends– because of these people I was able to have fun, hang out, laugh, go to parties, watch movies. I had friends who loved me and made me feel like I was worth something just because they knew me and they still wanted to hang out with me. I have great memories with these people, and I am really excited to come back in the fall and make more memories with them.
My second semester sophomore year goal, on the other hand, was Amanda is happy, and Amanda is a better version of herself. This goal was/is a lot harder than my first. I decided to help myself, and I’m not afraid to admit it– I decided to go to CAPS, which is the counseling service here on campus. It was my first time doing something like that– as in, actively trying to understand and help myself. My dad is a big advocate for counseling. He thinks that everyone should go, regardless of what has happened to them or the type of person they are, and has been trying to get me to go since I was little. I’ve never wanted to, and the times that he has tried to make me I was so against being there and talking to someone that it didn’t help at all.
Making the decision to go by myself, rather than because my dad wanted me to was so much different, and so much better. Because I was willing to help myself, because I wanted to do this to better understand myself, because I was willing to try, I did.
I think that part of this goal was realizing my self worth.
I tried to refuse to let other people make me unhappy. I tried to not let toxic people into my life. I tried to figure out my limits with people, and be honest with them about how I felt. I tried to get rid of the people in my life who made me feel like I didn’t matter. I figured that I didn’t deserve to be unhappy, and that if I could control what was going on in my life that made me unhappy then I had a chance.
I think that the key word here is that I tried. As cliche as this sounds (and as much as I hate cliches and using cliches) happiness is a journey. I’m never going to be completely 100% happy all the time. There is too much change and too many things that I can’t control for that to happen. But if it’s something that I consistently work on, if I’m positive and try to be the best person that I can be, happiness is something that seems attainable, and that’s good enough.
You might be thinking that I’m talking a lot about this, and that it implies that I wasn’t happy to begin with. But is anyone ever completely satisfied with how they are or how things are? I am constantly wishing for things to be better, and nothing is going to change until I do. I’ve said it before– I am constantly changing, I am discovering new things about myself and other people all the time. I know it will get better.
I wouldn’t say that I achieved this goal– I would say I will always be working on it.
As for new opportunities… I am going home for the summer with an internship (to be announced later on). This coming fall I also have an internship (also to be announced later on). I have a job working in Project Management for ITS at school, I am tutoring kids in creative writing, I am helping to rebrand The Miss Information, and I am the new Vice President/Treasurer of Ithaca College Women in Communications. Not gonna lie– I am pretty proud of myself for working this hard and grabbing at the chance to being a part of all of these great groups and projects and organizations.
I look back on this year, and I like what I see. I gave myself a chance, and I helped myself rather than sit idly by and hope for it to get better like last year. I almost don’t want to go home– I want to live here and work on myself and hang out with my friends. But it’s time.
Goodbye, Ithaca. I’ll see you soon.
Amanda’s Freshman Year Reflection
After (almost) completing my first year at college, I am so glad that I’m going to be able to come home in a week. I’ve learned so much here at Ithaca and I’ve enjoyed my time here, but I really want to go back.
When I came back to Croton after the first stretch of being away at school, (Thanksgiving break, I think) it was really weird. Everything was so different. Like (for example) when I went to go visit the high school, I wasn’t allowed in without checking in and getting a name tag. I felt like I was at the airport, with less security. And then when I would hang out with my friends from home who had gone away to college like me, they all seemed so worldly and different. They seemed a lot happier. They had met so many interesting people and taken so many cool classes and made amazing friends and had great party stories. I felt a little bad that I wasn’t having as great a time as they were, but I liked hearing about what was happening in their lives, because I missed them. Oh, and then since I have my driver’s license and now permanently reside in Ossining, I didn’t walk around Croton as much as I used to because I lived too far away and just drove everywhere for convenience. I used to walk home from school, and then walk around by the river with my friends. But I can’t really do that anymore I guess, since I live so far away.
It wasn’t just little things like that. I felt different. I would look at my sister, and my family, and my friends who are still in high school, and I would feel bad. When you don’t see or talk to someone every day, you grow apart. That stuff is natural. But I felt like I’d grown apart from everything that had been my home my whole life. It made me feel old, and I didn’t like that. I still cared about everyone, but there was a distance between me and everything else that hadn’t been there before, and I didn’t like that at all.
Coming back to Ithaca after that break, I realized that home hadn’t changed, even though it kind of seemed like it did.
It was me.
When you go to college, you get a clean slate. No one knows who you are and you can completely start over. I had a rough summer between high school and college, and I thought I was ready for that fresh start.
I’ve been away to sleep away camp before, but that was when I was younger and a little more naïve. It’s easier to make friends when you’re younger, because you have an easier time trusting people and being yourself around people. When you go to college (at least for me) I thought it was going to be okay. But I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified.
This first year away at school wasn’t the best. It had its ups and downs. I had a tough time making friends this year. I tried. But sometimes it doesn’t work out, and that’s okay.
When you are close to someone and you know them, or you think they know you, they really don’t. You think your best friends know you, but they don’t. You don’t even know who you are. No one knows who you are.
Heck, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know how to talk to people, or form close and meaningful relationships from scratch. I still don’t. But I’m working on it, and I think that’s great, and I’m proud of myself for that.
Here at IC, I’ve learned that being happy is what is important. I’ve learned that in order to be happy, you have to get rid of all of the negative things going on in your life. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be lonely sometimes. I’ve learned to appreciate good friends, because they are the ones that are there for you when things are awesome and when things are shitty.
I’ve learned that you have to be passionate and throw yourself into things, because these things aren’t going to just come and grab you– you have to go get them yourself. I’ve learned that who you are (to yourself and other people) is whatever you want to be, and that can be hard to figure out sometimes but it’s still possible.
Next year I know is going to be different. I’m going to be different. I’m going to take the stuff I’ve learned this year and have great friends, from Croton and here at school. I’m going to take opportunities I know I want. I’m going to be the best person I can be. I’m going to be happy.
But for right now, I am just ready to come home.