5 Things I Would Tell My Freshman Self

Being an incoming freshman can be overwhelming. Between moving into a new dorm [or apartment], leaving home + your high school friends, ++ the pressures of trying to fit in, it’s very easy to feel like you’re drowning in syllabuses + involvement fairs. Fortunately, you’re not the first person to experience this. Here’s some advice for how to make the most of your freshman year experience —

The best way to make yourself comfortable in a new space is to find the people you have things in common with. This can easily be done with the many clubs + organizations that all college campuses have to offer. Even though it’s scary to interact with new people, once you find your “home away from home”, the transition to college life will feel a lot easier.

I found my home within CHAARG + a student-run campus magazine. Through both of these students orgs I was able to surround myself with people who shared the same passions as me [health + fitness, journalism ++ being dedicated to achieving your goals]. You can really make the most out of your CHAARG experience before even stepping foot on campus by looking at the Fall Sneak Peek Page + creating your #inCHAARG Insta, which will make joining an org a lot less intimidating!

College is the perfect time to embrace your truest, most authentic self. You have four years ahead of you + you’re going to get out of it what you put into it. This is the perfect time to reflect on who you are, + grow as a person.

When I left home for the first time + lived in a new city, I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone, talk to new people ++ make a conscious effort to try new things, even if they made me uncomfortable. One of these new things was taking on a leadership position with CHAARG. As VP Membership, I had to talk to new girls, speak up during meetings + make my voice heard — something I had always been very timid with. I was uncomfortable at first, but through this experience I learned that some of the best decisions in life start at the edge of your comfort zone.

Somehow, through the perception of the media, there has become a stigma associated with gyms + weights that make it hard for people who are less experienced feel comfortable. This mindset can be difficult to overcome, so the best advice I have for you is to start small. If there’s one machine in the gym that you know you are comfortable with, start with that. Eventually, you can work your way up to challenging yourself, but there’s no shame in starting small.

Personally, I started with the elliptical [despite the CHAARG mantra] because it was the machine I had the most experience with. As my involvement with CHAARG deepened + I felt more empowered to experiment with fitness, I gradually began to mix up my workout routines. I started with using dumbbells in a corner of the gym that was less crowded. Then, I started doing HIIT in the combative arts room, even though the amount of people in the room intimidated me. By the end of the year, I was comfortable using the squat rack + other weight machines in the building. The most important thing is overcoming that stigma + experiencing for yourself that there is nothing to be afraid of when stepping into the building.

Whether it’s taking a walk, reading, sitting in a coffee shop, or watching Netflix, taking a break from the stress of school work is crucial to academic success. Setting aside time to unwind + relax allows your brain to retain all of the information you have studied..

I found my solace through my writing. Forcing myself to sit down in a coffee shop, listen to music + simply write allowed me to not only strengthen my writing skills, but also allowed me to forget about the stress of the six classes I was taking. By the time I finished writing, I found my mind was clearer + I was more focused when studying.

The Freshman 15 has become infamous among high school graduates who are desperate to avoid the weight gain, BUT the most important thing to remember is to prioritize your health in a maintainable + healthy way. It’s important to focus less on the number on the scale + more on how strong you are, physically ++ mentally, while appreciating what your body is capable of doing. If you prioritize living a maintainable, healthy lifestyle, you will have more energy to focus on your classes, will feel more confident + will be ready to handle whatever challenges freshman year may throw your way.

Freshman year is really intimidating, but it’s also one of the most exciting years in college.  Are you an *experienced* upperclassman? Share any advice you think a freshman would need in the comments below!

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  • Joanne Thiemann

    Great information for an apprehensive freshman! Keep up the good work, Grace!

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