Guide for Transitional Times
I’ve been here, at college, for nearly two months now. “At college…” It’s funny to say and write. It’s also funny to think that there are guides all over the internet for those who are seeking help regarding how to “adjust to college.” The truth of the matter is that: this whole concept of doing college right is far too broad to generalize.
I was thinking about this same idea the other day in reference to NYC. For those who live here, NYC is…your NYC. Yes, you share NYC with many other people (8.4 million). However, your perception of and interaction with this city is nothing like that of your neighbor, the barista at your morning pit stop, the man operating the newsstand on W 4th, or even your best friend. Like anything really, your experience is your experience alone—simply because it’s yours. That’s the beauty of individuality.
Regardless, I figured that it could be helpful (maybe?) to share a bit about my experience in adjusting to college life and the things that have helped me throughout these first couple months.
- I’ve done my best to make my space feel like my space.
Cliché, I know. It’s exciting to have a new space to decorate and personalize, but it’s also easy to get carried away in trying to “reinvent” yourself and your new life by means of your new space. However, it’s important to remember: although many aspects of your life might be new…you aren’t a new person. That’s not to say that you haven’t evolved or blossomed or grown, because YOU HAVE! Everyday! However, you are made up of your experiences. Your past doesn’t have to define you, but it’s inherently a part of who you are. So, for me, it was important that I decorated my new room with things that felt like me; things that make me smile due to the sentimental value they possess and the associations I have with them (hence the chart of the coast of Maine on my wall alongside some of my personal artwork).
- I’ve embraced the independence, freedom, and customizability of creating my own routine.
Moving away from home or to a new place allows you to explore yourself in relation to how you interact with all that makes up a new environment. So, find the coffee shop that fills you with ease and sparks a smile—become a “regular” there. What day do you do laundry? Wait, do you know how to do laundry? Figure it out! When should you shower? Well, when does your roommate shower? Oo, where’s the best 24-hr diner near you? You have a couple hours to kill before class…Go explore! Find your nooks, your favorite side streets, the best bookstores and markets and parks. Adventure, but do so without the help of your phone. I’ve made it a goal to stop Yelping and Googling and to open my eyes, interact with the people around me, and discover by word of mouth. It’s far more rewarding.
- I’ve strived to maintain a level of honesty with myself.
Sugarcoating can be dangerous. I strive to be honest with myself, recognize what I need to do for myself to be as healthy as possible (in every sense), and live authentically. In other words, find a balance that works for you. You know yourself better than anyone—so don’t forget that. Live, always, with that in mind.
- I check in with the people I love…as much as I need to and want to.
For me, it’s important to check in with the people I love that are elsewhere. If you miss someone, don’t stifle that. A phone call or FaceTime session is definitely not the same as being with that individual in the flesh, but sometimes hearing his voice or seeing her pixelated smile can be just what you need.
- I strive to embrace discomfort and allow myself to feel.
In unfamiliar situations and when surrounded by unfamiliar people, discomfort and awkwardness is blanketing—inescapable at times. There’s a lot to be gained from sitting with the discomfort in life though—who knows what a given awkward encounter might lead to?
- I’ve cried.
Self-explanatory—catharsis is important.
- I’ve sought out things to help me feel grounded & tried to solidify ways in which I can touch in with reality (…and myself in the process).
It’s easy to get swept away in the chaos and overwhelm of newness. For me, checking in with my five senses makes a world of difference. Too, being in NYC in and of itself has been transformative—here, the only place that really feels like your own is...well, your own mind and body. Instead of taking strides to make your external environment a comfortable oasis (something that's impossible in NYC), you're forced to adapt and cope with outer chaos by creating/concocting the opposite internally. My home is my body, and I am reminded of this especially when in a city.
- I allowed myself to have the “…I don’t have any friends…” breakdown
Also self-explanatory…But the solution isn’t just sitting back and feeling bad for yourself. Making friends is not worth forcing, as that will only lead to artificiality. However, it won’t happen without any effort on your part. Push yourself healthily. Be mindful. Be confident. Put yourself out there. Seek out like-minded people in whatever way seems fitting to you, be it through school-organized clubs, an outside job, other students in your res hall, classmates, the other “regulars” that frequent your cafe, and so on.
- I’ve done my best to embrace the cultural aspects of this new place that I live/WHERE I AM!
I’m in NEW YORK CITY! So…eat bagels, Libby! Explore the museums, the galleries, the thriving art scene as a whole. Talk to people. Take in the diversity—the abundance of people, the variety of opinions and experiences, the array of beauty. Embrace the pace. Go to the silly events that pop up on Facebook (…there’s a Halloween Dog Parade coming up). It’s impossible to list out all that New York has to offer, so…dive in!!
- I try to remind myself frequently my long-term goals—what it is that I want in life, why I am here altogether, and what’s truly important to me.
I keep a list of grand intentions that I cherish deeply. It’s important for me to keep these in mind as I’m going through day to day life. For me, passion is important. Genuine connection is important. Self-awareness is important. Individuality is important. Openness to learning is important…etc. What’s important to you?