Recently I have realized, through talking to my best friend Lauren, that looking back my life has been clearly defined in phases. I don't mean in the sense of like hobbies, but in the sense of personality phases, if that makes sense? Just looking back in my three years of college so far, I was a distinctly different person each year and I think it is really interesting to see how I've grown and changed. So, here are my life 'phases' so far, broken down by college years.
Freshman: the figuring myself out phase
The day I moved in:
I would say the general vibe of my freshman year was: completely clueless but pretending not to be. I think a lot of people go through this in their freshman year of college. No one has any idea what they are doing, but everyone is desperately trying to pretend that they do. Really it's pointless to pretend this because like I said, everyone is clueless.
I was a little bit of an idiot, way too trusting of people. I was going into a situation where I didn't really know anyone, so everyone I met was like "omg possible best friend maybe???" and I just kind of let anyone and everyone in. Which is regrettable now, I was very naive, but you live and you learn.
Going along with the cluelessness of freshman year, I felt like most of the time I was just aimlessly wandering through life. Not quite sure of who I was, what I wanted, what I was doing, or anything really. It was a nice feeling at times because nothing was too real, it was the first year so nothing was set in stone. I had room to grow and make mistakes to figure out who I was and what I wanted.
My favorite part of freshman year is that I think I really found my 'aesthetic.' I got a whole new wardrobe and really felt comfortable and excited about what I was wearing. I also chopped off my waist length hair to shoulder length and got my first tattoo, it was the most liberating feeling in the world. I bought things I would've been terrified to in high school: thigh high boots, high waisted jeans, crop tops, chokers, converse, burgundy nail polish, a leather jacket, and I was happy as could be.
The end of freshman year:
Sophomore: the learning lessons phase
The beginning of sophomore year:
Sophomore year I made a lot of mistakes and went through enormous 'growing pains' I guess you could say. Coming out of freshman year I felt much more sure of myself in some aspects of life, mainly as far as school work and future possibilities were concerned. However, personally, I was still extremely unsure and insecure in myself. Insecurity was really the theme of sophomore year for me.
Almost all of the decisions I made were rooted in insecurity, I was never sure if I was doing something just for myself or because I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing. As you can imagine, this led to many an existential crisis. I was extremely self conscious which resulted in a lot of negative thoughts and self deprecating behavior. My health, mental and physical, was not good.
Going along with that, I was aware that I was not doing well. But I thought that if I pretended that I was then I would not only be able to convince those around me, but also myself that I okay. I tried to force happiness and health and pretend that everything was perfect when in reality everything was falling a part.
This decently negative portion of my life was necessary. I learned so much about myself, my goals, and my relationships. I learned that I need to put myself first and genuinely take care of myself. I had been trying so hard to come off as happy and put together that it was exhausting, and it took me all of sophomore year to learn that that was no way to live.
move in day and move out day with mom:
Junior: (so far) the phase of actual happiness
Moving on from all the emotions and struggles of sophomore year was hard. It still is, and sometimes I fall back in to old, bad habits. But if you had told me then what my junior year would have in store for me now, I would have never believed you. I spent so much of my time sophomore year trying to force happiness that I thought I would never have real genuine happiness. What I've come to find out is that forcing it gets you no where, it is when you stop forcing it that true happiness will find you.
I stopped relying on other people for happiness. This was helped by the fact that I am studying abroad in Australia this semester, so I went into my junior year not really having anyone to lean on. That helped me grow immensely. I had to rely on myself, I had to learn how to love myself for who I currently am, not focusing on who I was and who I could be, but the current state of everything I am. I had to wholeheartedly love me, and it was harder than it probably should've been, but I am so grateful that I do.
In order to do that I had to stop living in the fear that I did for a lot of freshman and sophomore year. During those times I was so incredibly insecure and loved almost nothing about myself. So to start moving on from that I had to change my behavior and my thoughts, so that is how I have spent my junior year so far.
- write, publish it, and don't care if people read it
- eat whole meals and don't feel guilty or avoid eating
- read more. articles, books, blogs, everything
- am more open with the people around me
- am not afraid to say things or have an opinion of my own (this one is a real work in progress still)
That probably seems like a short list of pretty basic things, but for me I struggled with all of them for so long and it feels so good to not struggle anymore. I still do have really bad days, this year hasn't been perfect (it's not even over yet) but it has been closer to perfect than any other time in my life so far.
First day in Melbourne: After two months in Brisbane:
We all go through phases in our lives, it's inevitable. We're never going to be exactly the same person tomorrow as we were today, and that's okay. I've loved looking back on the past few years and seeing how I've grown and what I've learned. It makes life make sense to me in a way, I know how each phase of my life has gotten me to the point I'm at today. I'm sure I'll look back in my senior year and see even more growth. I only hope it's a positive as it has been so far.