Gather 'round, friends. It's story time.
April 15th, 2017 was my favorite day of freshman year. There was nothing extraordinarily spectacular about it and I'm not sure if anyone else would think it was a particularly memorable day, but I believe it is one of those days that will live on forever in my mind (and now, on this blog).
I want to preface this story with one of my biggest worries heading into my first year at college: making friends. I had been in the same environment and ran in the same circle of friends in Los Angeles for roughly the last five years of my life. My best friend has been the same person for the last 4+ years, I worked with the same group of people for three years in a row, and all of my friends knew/were familiar with each other. Being in a brand new place with all new faces was something I hadn't experienced in a very long time.
As is human nature, this change made me incredibly nervous. You sort of assume that the nerves surrounding the idea of "making new friends" dissipates after middle school or maybe high school, but nope. That crap follows you straight into adulthood. So, there I was. Imagine the classic Teen College Movie opening crane shot of a Sheltered Homeschool Girl looking nervously at a Big Scary School surrounded by crowds of students that are a million times more confident than she is hugging and laughing as she drowns in a sea of self-doubt. It wasn't quite like that for me, but that scene was playing on repeat in my head the weeks leading up to the first day.
In summation, I was terrified of the prospect of meeting people and having to force them that I'm worth their time. Cut to: April 15th.
It was the Saturday of Easter weekend. We had Good Friday off so it was our first three-day weekend in a while, and we were savoring every moment. The night before, my friends Deb and Kyong and my roommate Emily and I hatched a plan. We were going to wake up (semi) early and head to the dining hall. Me and Emily's mission was to steal as much food as possible in our takeout food containers that had been doubling as tupperware all semester. Trust me when I say we did our job. Meanwhile, Deb and Kyong set up in the dorm kitchen and monopolized the stove and all the crusty bowls and pans the thousand-year-old kitchen had to offer.
We spent a good hour or two whipping up banana pancakes whilst blasting a plethora of non-Private-Christian-College approved music. When the feast was complete, we set up a Snapchat-worthy spread and got to work. At this point I should probably mention that all four of us had voluntarily been taking part in something called the Whole 30 (otherwise known as a cruel form of self-torture). It's basically this diet (it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle) that forbids you from eating anything enjoyable including processed sugar, wheat, grains, legumes, or dairy. This meant that our food options had been quite limited for a couple weeks and we had to find the foods that we could eat and eat a lot of it. That is precisely what we did.
A hazy Saturday sun was lending it's happy rays to our set-up and we basked in that comfortable silence only achieved through a group of people all simultaneously enjoying an incredible meal. We looked around, catching each other's eyes with that look like "we did it." With our stomachs halfway full and our hearts all the way full, someone proposed the idea that we go around the table and give advice to one another. We'd gradually grown close as pals over the last few months and felt we were in the place to do such a thing. A lot of silly things were said (i.e. Kyong's life advice to Deb to "just be better"), but there were also moments of showing our hearts for each other to each other. It wasn't overt, but the meaningfulness was there and it was floating in the air all around us.
In that moment, on that day, sitting at that table, I felt a whisper from that too-often-silenced voice of rationality saying, "Why the heck were you so afraid? Look at this. Look at them." And I did. And my heart became overwhelmed with this unparalleled gratitude for these people. They were the kind of people I could look at and confidently say that they would stand up for me and stand by me and stand with me throughout anything. They were the kind of people that I never thought I would find at college. I had the privilege of staring my previous fears in the face and laughing at their inconceivability. I had no way of knowing it eight months prior, but I had no reason to be afraid. Being able to acknowledge and dismiss a fear is an empowering moment, and I got to have that moment with myself while stuffing myself with banana pancakes and watching my friends gorge themselves on grapefruits.
There's a lot more that went on that day, but I think I'll keep that to myself for now. As for this post, that's the end of story time. I'm not sure if reading any of that is of any interest to anyone, but there's no turning back now. Thanks for joining me and see ya next time.
P.S. this post may be able to double as a continuation of my freshmeat wisdom. I understand how the prospect of making friends in a new place is terrifying, especially in an environment that is already as high stress as college. But I want this to serve as an example of the out-of-this-world people you are guaranteed to meet at college. Trust me, they're there. You just have to put yourself out there so you can find them.
as the great philosopher Spongebob once said: best day ever.