By Nastassja Whitman
College is not all about the books. No, really. College is more than just about going to class and studying for exams. What about the social world? It is common that college will be the first time most of you will have lived outside of your parent’s home. It was for me.
My first day on campus was not what I expected. I thought I would walk into a world with friends spilling over into my dorm room while I pretended I was Denise from the television show series A Different World. Instead, after all my family left, I sat on the bottom bunk bed and cried, because for the first time in my life I was alone and there was no one to pick me up. My family was a WHOLE hour away (lol).
Furthermore, I was afraid to walk out my door. It seemed that the whole campus was socializing outside and that made me feel nervous. In one moment, my dream of friends and coolness turned into a nightmare of socially awkward isolation. I eventually worked up an appetite and had to walk out of my door to go to the dining hall and feed myself. Serendipitously, on the walk there I ran into a girl from high school. It was a blessing to see a familiar face.
There were other moments like that during my college tenure in which I felt alone and nervous. As a matter of fact—who am I kidding—it still happens to me in my adult life. I’ve learned showing up is the easy part, and if I am patient and gentle with myself I can overcome my fears and achieve my heart’s desires. As if I were my OWN little baby, I support myself with positive encouragement, reinforcing the lessons I have inherited from family and those that I have learned along the way. I don’t get it right all the time, so I allow myself the discovery that getting things wrong allows, including feeling weird, awkward, alone, nervous, and overwhelmed at times. I’ve discovered I grow in those moments. All I have to do is show up.
Here are a few strategies I’ve gathered along the way to help me show up and keep my cool:
- Deep and full breaths
- Listen to music (the band Earth, Wind and Fire always cheer me up)
- Play like a child outside
- Dance til your shirt sticks to your back
- Call someone you love
- Say “I love you” really fast in the mirror
- Go out for ice cream or hot chocolate
- Sit by the window in a coffee shop
Free Library of Philadelphia
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Philadelphia, PA 19103