By Carly Allen, Guest Blogger August 20, 2015
Like many people undergoing major transitions, I decided I wanted a fresh start when I began my freshman year of college. I was going to a school a few hours away from home, where I knew absolutely no one, and this was both terrifying and promising.
My desire for a fresh start stemmed from a newfound social anxiety that made its appearance sometime following graduation. I attended a small high school (smaller than yours, I guarantee it) where I was generally well-liked and accepted. You can even find my picture in the yearbook under “class clown.” While my social life in high school wasn’t hurting, I was never really “cool” and I feared my new friends at college wouldn’t appreciate my sense of humor or my quirks like the people I had known since kindergarten.
College presented itself as an opportunity to start over. I thought the fact that nobody knew me meant I could be whoever I wanted to be. And I was afraid to be myself.
I met a lot of friendly people upon my arrival, but I remained very cautious about what I said or did. Before I knew it, I was telling little white lies. I pretended to like Mac Miller even though I had never heard of him. I watched Jersey Shore with my new friends and laughed along like I had seen the entire series. There was no reason for me to fib about these trivial things, but I thought it would make me seem like the cool girl I wanted to be.
After an exhausting facade, I decided to act like myself and see what would happen. The results were instantaneous.
Instead I was the odd girl out. I saw other people in my friend group forming close relationships, but I just didn’t click with anyone like that. Pretending to be someone else wasn’t making me any more likable, and it certainly wasn’t making me happy. After a few weeks of putting on an exhausting façade, I decided to act like myself and see what would happen. The results were instantaneous.
Four years later, I’m still friends with many of my freshman year pals. They accept me and love me not just in spite of, but because I am a huge Harry Potter dork with a guinea pig obsession and a tendency to break out into spontaneous interpretative dance.
We have all admitted how scared we were at the start of freshman year and how we suffocated certain aspects of our personalities because we thought it would make us fit in. In retrospect, this seems really ridiculous. I have become so secure and happy with myself that I can’t imagine compromising any part of me to please another person.
Don’t lose sight of yourself when you have the option to start over.
Don’t lose sight of yourself when you have the option to start over. Fresh starts can be wonderful. I know I have grown and changed so much since I decided to pack up and move hours away from home, and I’m thankful for what I’ve gained through the experience.
The important thing to remember is that starting over is an opportunity to build on and improve yourself regardless of burdens from your past. It doesn’t mean you have to try and create a new persona for yourself. Doing so isn’t going to foster your happiness or personal growth, and what is the purpose of a fresh start without these things? Remind yourself of this whenever you are faced with a new situation or opportunity, whether it’s a different school, a new job, or a big move.
The best advice I can give to someone who wants a fresh start is to stay true to yourself. Odds are, you’re a pretty awesome person already!
How do you approach new beginnings? How do you present yourself in new situations? Tell us below!
Carly has a BS in English Literature from The College at Brockport. She interns at a literacy center in New York State and can often be found under a pile of books and various writing projects. She loves travelling, Netflix, dance parties, and trying new foods. Her pride and joy is a chubby guinea pig named Charlie. You can check out her personal blog at thecommonbrightgirl.wordpress.com
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