Year 2: Lessons Revisited

by racherickson

And just like that, another year has gone by.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the things I had learned in my first year of college. It’s pretty interesting to read what I wrote then and compare my thoughts now.

This year old post stressed how important it was for me to be happy and came to the conclusion that I was a happy person. I’d love to say that I kept my advice for myself and kept that same attitude for this past school year, but this year went a whole lot differently than last and anything I had ever expected. This year, it was reinforced to me that I cannot have expectations for people or for my life because sometimes those expectations get shattered into a million pieces and there is no way to fix it.

Throughout my second year at college, I feel like I’ve been through every single extreme emotion any person can ever go through. I started fall semester, ready to start my happy journey as a very (obviously) experienced college student. I moved into my apartment, excited to live with one of my best friends, ready to take on the world. The summer had been alright, but I was ready to jump into this school year with full force.

Very quickly, I felt myself slipping into a state of mind that I had never really experienced. I felt incredibly alone. I felt like I had found myself in a situation where I couldn’t connect with people and couldn’t keep my friendships from falling apart. People fell out of my life and I couldn’t bring them back no matter how hard I tried. I started blaming myself for everything. I was in a place where I really thought I was alone.

The feeling of loneliness is terrible. It spirals into deeper emotions and mental problems and I was devastated. My happiness had been compromised and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

At some point in the semester, something changed.

I got at job at the library because I couldn’t sit and sulk in my unhappiness. I got out of the house and strived to immerse myself in my work. This was so, so good for me. In addition to this, I had been struggling with feeling alone and I didn’t know how to combat those obstacles. Miraculously, people came into my life that I couldn’t be more grateful for. Each of them became some of my closest friends — all in a class that I was going to drop but didn’t because something felt so right. I strongly believe that my pleads with the Lord, late at night, were answered. His timing is impeccable and I was amazed when I looked back and realized that each of these individuals were placed in my life at such a critical and difficult time for me. And none of them knew I was struggling.

Throughout this entire process, I was applying for the Media Arts (film) major. Phew — that was fun. I was stressed out about putting in a application for something I loved because I was afraid, after all the hours I put in, I wouldn’t succeed. My emotional state could not handle that. But, again, by some miracle, I received the news that I was accepted and that was another checkpoint for me. I have never felt as comfortable in a class than the ones I’m taking now, with people that I can really connect and be friends with. I have finally found where I need to be.

Winter semester has been a crazy, busy, beautiful nightmare — in the best way possible. I’m gaining my happiness back and I’m so grateful. It’s absolutely great. It’s not perfect, but that will never be.

This year has been a year of many sad nights and lingering doubts But it has also been one of laughter and Sodalicious and new people and a messy room and short films and obnoxious rants and laughing and discovering who I am. I had to go through that dark time because without it, the reward would have been so much less than it was. I had to know how it felt to be alone in order to be overjoyed in new friends and new experiences. During this shifting period, I relied on the constants — like my family — but also on little things like sunsets and the changing of seasons. I made it through — thanks to a long list of people who never left my life. Even when I felt alone, I wasn’t. Last year’s outlook on life was beautiful, but I’ve learned so much more than what I thought I knew in April 2014.

It’s been a wild ride, but I’m excited to see where I go. I’m constantly learning how to cope with different things and deal with new experiences. I feel as though my “life plan” is constantly changing and that is okay — even though in the moment, it seems as though I’m having an existential crisis. Calm down, Rachel. It’s wonderful that we are always growing, even when we feel like we’re in a rut, we will make it through and learn more about ourselves than we had imagined.

So, here’s to the completion of another school year. Much has changed, but it’s all for the better and I’m so grateful.