It’d be an understatement to say that the transition between high school and college is intimidating — it’s almost like you’re ending one life in the hometown you grew up in and opening up another in a new place, full of new opportunities, experiences and people whom you’ll be with for the next four years. Moreover, all you have taken with you are your clothes and a few personal items; you pack these things into boxes and ship them, hundreds or sometimes thousands of miles away from home, into a totally new environment.
But, myself included, many first years struggle to pack one critical thing for the trip: themselves.
High school was all about finding yourself and establishing your individuality, and college seems like the gauntlet you’ll run to test your identity against everyone else’s, especially at a place full of such unique people like Yale. The important thing to remember is that, while this is all difficult, it’s OK if your personality still isn’t perfectly packed by move-in day, as long as you’re honest to yourself.
Personally, I feel like I have a lot of qualms about moving from Dallas, Texas, to New Haven. Prior to coming to Yale, I’d never been to the northern United States during the first 18 years of my life. I couldn’t even properly spell Connecticut without sounding it out like “Connect-i-cut.” My most pressing concerns were about school, and I asked myself: What would my classes be like? What’s a gut class, and how do I get in? Will I be intellectually drop kicked by every other student I meet? Alas, many of these anxieties were resolved on my first visit, but once I arrived in New Haven for the first time and started to meet a few of my future classmates at Bulldog Days, I only succeeded in bridging into another set of questions: Who will be my roommate? Will I mesh well with this group? And as the realization set in that I was the only person I knew in New Haven: Will I make any friends?
Before coming here, I had a close-knit group of friends in high school, people whom I was familiar with and could rely on during periods of transition in my personal life. However, as all of those friends were packing their parent’s SUVs and heading out to schools like the University of Texas at Austin or Texas A&M in College Station, I was packing suitcases and preparing to check them for a one-way flight. I felt excited for the new experience and the opportunity Yale provided, but I was equally anxious about being a stranger in a strange land. I thought long and hard about my interests, hobbies, good qualities, wardrobe and style, like I was building a resume for how amiable of an impression I’d make on the people I’d meet on move-in day.
The upside, fortunately, was that through social media and other groups online, I was able to reach out to a number of other students going through the same ordeal that I was, and it felt reassuring to find, after an exchange of even just a few words, that the question, Are you anxious about the move? was dogging them just as much as it was me. I wasn’t unique in my trepidation; students were packing up their lives into little boxes and moving from places like the west coast, the Midwest or even other countries like Guayana and Indonesia. The anxiety seemed less like a personal problem, and more like a shared experience. We all could bond in some fundamental way about the uncertainties of the “great move” coming on the 24th.
The takeaway from this, as it should be from all experiences of great transition in your life, is that your success in making that transition is highly contingent on how aptly you can roll with change while remaining confident in your ability to do so. My confidence may have wavered when I thought I was the only one freaking out about moving, but the realization that many others, some amazing and interesting people included, were feeling the same gave me reassurance in the fact that regardless of who I am now, the person I’ll be in college doesn’t necessarily have to be any “better” or different. If they are, great. You shouldn’t feel obligated to prove yourself in college; you should see it as an opportunity. I hope that the whole class of 2022 can recognize the unfathomable opportunity we have received to become, or just be, the best versions of ourselves that we can over these next four years.
Bellah Bellah is a first year in Berkeley College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .