Written By: Mahnoor Aftab, Freshman at Illinois Institute of Technology, CMSA Class of 2021

(This content has been edited for clarity and grammar)

Once you get to college, you realize high school was a piece of easy-bake cheesecake, if you will. And college is the type of dry fruit cake that’s hard to digest without a pitcher of ice-cold water in your lap. To make matters worse, sometimes that dry fruit cake gets stuck down your throat too.

To put it simply, there’s a lot more required from college freshmen than high school seniors. Between these two events, we are expected to magically transition into young adults who know exactly what they want to be in the next 4 years. Which — as you know — doesn’t happen. Instead, we are thrown headfirst into the harsh reality of being in a new environment without an ounce of knowledge of what’s to come.

AND THAT’S OKAY.

Because so is everyone else. And you know what they say, misery loves company. No, but seriously, one of the things that makes this harsh reality a little less… harsh, you could say, is the fact that there are countless individuals next to you who have no idea what they’re doing either. It’s a learning process for everyone. Making connections, making friends, meeting others who share the same concerns as you make this a better experience because we learn how to cope and enjoy this rather unpleasant experience together. Sounds rather masochistic, but hey it is what it is. Think of it as whipped cream on the dry fruit cake. Makes matters more edible, if not desirable.

Eventually, you’ll start to enjoy studying like a lunatic at 4 am with huge eye bags for your semester finals because you have a friend sitting right next to you with even bigger eye bags. But sometimes you’ll sit there in the wee hours of the night, halfway through the year, and wonder whether this major is the right thing for you. Been there, done that, and came back to tell you that that’s also OKAY. There are so many other college students out there who go through second thoughts during their third year at college and you realizing your major is not the right fit for you early on is sort of a grand blessing. So, if you have second thoughts during your first year, maybe focus on doing what you love or find something you genuinely enjoy studying. Because being unhappy, in debt, AND being committed to a major you don’t enjoy is too many L’s in a row. Let’s tick one of the lists at least.

Anyways, my point is that nobody said college was going to be easy (if they did please email me their address — I just want to talk over tea). But there are ways we can make it a better experience for us and other fellow freshmen. Find some friends, go take a little field trip with them once a week to take your mind off the ridiculous number of assignments beckoning you, partake in some college events, watch some Netflix… just forget college for a while. Destress and take a few deep breaths. It might not be okay in the end, but you’ll have watched that show on Netflix you were trying to make time for.

All jokes aside, eventually we’ll all find something we want to work towards, and that motivation, determination, and the friends we made just might mask the bitter taste of that fruit cake.

Maybe it won’t even be fruit cake anymore.

And best of all, maybe we’ll stop choking on it.

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