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REVIEW: The social trials and tribulations of first grade after two years of online school

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Long before I had a dream school or even a dream major, I had a dream freshman. I spent much of high school dreaming of moving into my dorm and happily greeting my parents, like in the movies. I imagined myself laughing with an influx of new friends in the library and being the mature, independent version of myself that I still long for.

It was probably when I spent the first two weeks of first grade crying every day and begging my parents to let me go home that I realized that this perfect vision might be a little unrealistic.

Accepting these feelings of intense homesickness and unpreparedness felt like a kind of mourning. I found myself scolding this “immature” behavior that didn’t fit into this internal narrative of how I had thought I should adjust to college life – as if there was only only one right way.

I told myself that I had to grow up. That I was acting like a baby and everyone was doing great.

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I didn’t know it then, but how I felt couldn’t be less exclusive to me. The Class of 2025 entered our freshman year headfirst, each of us trying to break away from the heaviness and isolation of the previous two years.

Although freshman year is a trying experience for everyone, it’s no secret that the freshman class this year had a bigger adjustment to make.

According to figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, total undergraduate enrollment fell 3.1% from fall 2020 to fall 2021. This number could be explained by different financial situations for many many families due to COVID-19, or even just attendance at trade schools or community colleges.

It could also be because many of us feel socially stunted, not ready for all the challenges that come with college.

Over the past two years, we have spent much of our time alone, with our families, and withdrawn from large social gatherings. Despite these difficulties, many of us have grown tremendously during this time, even if it didn’t seem like it.

Whether we’ve picked up a new hobby or spent more time with family, we shouldn’t feel like time has been wasted. However, it was probably spent more isolated and alone than we had ever been in our lives.

I think about it and feel the version of myself that felt so guilty because she didn’t feel ready to start this new chapter in life. I reflect on it and take comfort in the thought that many more of us have struggled this year than we will ever realize. Let’s be proud of ourselves and recognize all that we have accomplished.

I know I felt it many times this semester when all I wanted to do was catch a flight home. It would have been much easier, more comfortable and more familiar. I remember being on the phone with my dad with his exact words like “lean on it, Liv”. It’s a simple couple of words that both confused and annoyed me at the time, but nearly nine months later, I can’t think of more helpful advice. Think about it. Lean into the uncomfortable, the unknown and the scary.

If there’s anything I learned from first year, it would be the value and importance of those difficult times in our lives versus the easier ones.

As we approach the first year, I realize that this was the first big step in navigating the rest of our lives. Despite these various trials and tribulations, we have begun our growth into the people we are going to be. Although I wasn’t always the perfectly prepared version of myself I thought I was, I’m even more proud of the version I’ve become. You should be too.


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Olivia Krupp

Olivia is a freshman who has yet to declare her major. She enjoys reading, foreign films and poetry in her spare time.