First-Year Focus: Finding Support

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First-Year Focus: Finding Support

Rachel Wei

On the way to class, you take the opportunity to go over the steps of cellular respiration. Today is going to be a busy day, so you have to squeeze in every opportunity to study for the upcoming bio exam.  Adding two ATPs to glucose gives you fructose 1, 6 biphosphate, which is then cleaved into two molecules of glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate…Then, you see one of your friends walk by and give them a wave. “How are you?” they ask. As if under obligation, you automatically reply “good.” As soon as that word leaves your mouth, however, you realize that it’s not the best description of how you’re feeling right now. Despite the fact that “good” does not describe your current mood or state of mind at all, you can’t seem to bring yourself to revise your statement, so you just smile and trudge on.

It’s officially mid term, and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown. So much has happened thus far, and I often feel caught up in the whirlwind of everything going on campus. Guest lectures, rehearsal, classes and homework often have me running around like a maniac trying to make the most of all the opportunities here. Juggling exams, classes, homework and extracurriculars can be overwhelming and it’s easy to feel burnt out.

Seeing freshmen reunited with their families during family weekend made me realize how much we’ve all grown up in the past few weeks. I am used to seeing everyone walking around campus and going about their day with the independence and self-sufficiency of an adult. However, during family weekend I saw students flanked by parents (and siblings), and everyone seemed to shrink to become mere adolescents, enjoying the protection and help of their family once again.

Observing the difference in how my peers looked and seemed to me individually versus with their families brought to my attention how quickly some of us have been forced to grow up since coming to Vandy. Some of us more sheltered freshmen have never performed normal “adult” tasks such as doing our own laundry before arriving here. Other aspects of adult life, such as fully managing your own schedule and budgeting your time, have been skills that we have been forced to develop or put into action in college since we no longer have the backup support of our parents. There’re (usually) no mothers checking in on us to make sure we get to clubs on time, making sure we’re up in the morning in time for class, or pointing out that we have busy weekend ahead and should probably get started on homework in advance.

Being an adult is tiring. After all, all of us are technically still in the period of emerging adulthood, often dealing with fear, doubt, vulnerability, questioning our identity and discovering what things are important to us. Transitioning into college life and adulthood can be confusing and disheartening. It’s easy to feel down when finding out you failed your first exam in general chemistry, or that you added too much detergent and now all your clothes are still covered in suds. It’s also easy to feel the pressure to always “be okay,” or feel “great.”

However, everyone has those days when everything is just not going in the right direction and the stress keeps piling up. We don’t have to and shouldn’t feel like we have to hold down the fort on our own. It’s important to remember that there are support systems for us. Whether it’s reaching out to the resources here on campus, a favorite professor, your roommate, or friends, we can and should take steps to relieve the pressure of whatever is on our minds. Moreover, it’s important to remind ourselves that family and friends back home are still there for us. We don’t need to stick it out on our own here or seek support solely from those who we have known for a few weeks tops. So, with midterms looming, maybe calling your mom, or chilling with friends watching “Lord of the Rings” in the seminar room is what you need to do instead of buckling down for another all-nighter. Take a break-you deserve it.

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