"Recapture that Bigger Picture" by Anna L.
Dear Freshman Anna,
Breathe in. Close your eyes. Count to five. Breathe out. Repeat, until you get rid of those hectic worries that have been recently defining life at Georgetown, and recapture that bigger picture.
It’s almost November now, and you’ve almost made it through your first semester. You’re a lot worse at econ than you thought you’d be. Your classical mythology class is so much harder than that easy, general HUMW requirement you thought it would be, plus it’s full of junior and senior classics majors, who all know each other. Even though your other classes are ok, you’re still worried that they’re going to take an unpredictable turn for the worse. Could you handle it? You’re honestly not sure, because didn’t they let you in here on some fluke? They must have just had some extra spots, or accidentally sent you an acceptance letter.
You’re not even sure if you even fit in appearance-wise -- you’ve finally figured out that J. Crew is a thing here, but are still vaguely confused by Lilly Pulitzer, and whatever MK and Vineyard Vines are – also, you still don’t have a solid winter coat, because you never needed that in high school when you just ran from your car to indoor places all the time. People here look so effortlessly amazing, and you feel like you missed the memo somewhere.
In general, you feel slight pressure (and slightly like you’re failing) to capitalize on this amazing opportunity to reinvent yourself from who you were in your small town, even though you know it’s stupid because you should just be you. You wish you had some sort of metric to measure how you’re doing, school-wise, work-wise, social-wise – anything from anybody to tell you, definitively, that you’re fine, that you’re on the right track to a successful four years.
Whenever you pass by Healy, you tell yourself forcefully that you’ve made such a good decision, and love it here, even though secretly you’re questioning if it really feels like home, and are wondering when that “you’ll just know” feeling will kick in.
The first two-ish months were a blur of “wow, this isn’t so different from high school.” People are nice, and you felt like you made some friends. You joined some cool clubs (shoutout to Club Triathlon)! But now, you’re at that stage, where you’re wondering if you’ve made any real, good, deep friends, like your two best friends from home. You can’t help but compare your experience (and let’s be real, Facebook photos and Instagram posts) to your old high school classmates’. You haven’t really been homesick, and even that is worrying you, because shouldn’t you be? You feel no emotion when you think back to that old life in New Jersey. Sure you miss your family, but they were just here for Parent’s Weekend, and Thanksgiving is pretty close. Is there something wrong with you?
This is the moment to breathe. The moment to realize, that it’s ok – literally you’ve been here for less than three months, and aren’t actually expected to have your shit together. That’s for senior year (lol jk). For now, list some positives: you’re not failing in any class (and even when you are, second semester sophomore year, your dean and professors are phenomenal at helping you get back on track); you’ve found some running buddies/potentially great friends (spoiler alert: they’ll become your best friends!); your floor is pretty cool (and this is before you realize that they’ll play sporcle until 3am in the common room just as often as they go out till 3am – and that by senior year, you’ll still be hanging out with a lot of them); you found a job and talked to the financial aid counselor, who reassured you that no, aid packages rarely vary greatly from year to year; you’ve maintained the relationships you wanted to maintain with people back home; autumn in DC is gorgeous.
See, it’s ok! By senior year, you’ll still be worrying about a lot of things, some that you know will be inconsequential even by the time graduation hits. One thing you won’t be worrying about is if you made the right decision coming to Georgetown, because you can see now that coming here changed your life. It broadened your worldview, and let you find your people. You went abroad for the full year junior year with a non-Georgetown program, which drove home how lucky you are here on the hilltop.
I guess my point is, freshman Anna, you need to relax. Go with the flow, and everything will be ok. If you don’t believe me, reach out to upperclassmen on some of those clubs you joined. Reach out to your dean. Call your mom – she’s awesome – and don’t forget to ask for dad too. Or take the plunge, and try to connect on a deeper level with some of those friends you met your first few months. Chances are, they’ve been going through a lot of the same worries as you.
Forget about that picture of college presented to you in movies or discussed in high school, and focus on finding your place at Georgetown. There are so many different groups of people here, you’re bound to find your niche somewhere. Don’t let fear stop you from signing up for that mailing list, or going to that first meeting. You’ve got this – I know you do. All else fails, keep forcefully telling yourself, every time you walk past Healy, that you love it here, and that you’re so grateful to be here – that positive reinforcement and positive attitude will eventually get more and more automatic, and you won’t even notice until the transition is complete that you do actually love it here and you are so grateful to be here. I promise, it works!
Editor's note: Anna hopes you will reach out to her if anything in her Georgetown experience speaks to you. Reach out to the editor on the submission page to get in touch with Anna - coffee's on her!