Boy, was it a rollercoaster… I remember the first few weeks of the semester and not knowing what to expect. Would my professors like me? Would I understand the content? Would I fall behind? My mind ran circles as I tried to figure out a rhythm. I was in fact, only 17. This was supposed to be my grad year but I graduated early and jumped into college instead. It was unsettling and nerve wracking to say the least. All first days are! It was like my first day of kindergarten all over again. I didn’t want to introduce myself and sit in a new classroom with new instructors and new students. The whole idea made me want to vomit. Plus, the very structure and routine of my life felt upturned. It was a jarring transition from being in school six hours a day 5/7 days a week and then suddenly having so much time off?

I set up my schedule like so; Mondays I had Writing Fiction class from 3:30-6:20pm. Tuesdays I went to Personal Narrative class from 3:30-6:20pm. Wednesdays were off. Thursdays I sat through Psychology 1100 from 3:30-6:20pm. And Fridays I worked on campus in the fitness center from 12:30-4:30pm.

First of all, I quickly discovered having afternoon classes was a mistake. Not only would I sleep in past noon, making my days feel short and unproductive, but I also felt sleepy and groggy right before training. I would change and leave campus after class, driving straight to football. 

Knowing myself and how I absorb information, I like to let the content simmer in my mind for a few hours after a lecture. This was the exact opposite. I had to push all the terms and concepts out so I could focus on football. Not only did this make it more difficult to study later on, but it made me exhausted. I knew I could play better than I was but after sitting for three hours, my body refused to cooperate. My mind felt like mush most days and overall every session was unsatisfying. It was such a downer, it affected my motivation and mental health.

A part of me also felt out of place. I wasn’t supposed to be in college yet. I still had a whole year of high school I could’ve been enjoying. I wasn’t quite old enough to belong here and yet I knew I felt too old to be in high school. Even after going through the fall semester, I still have these thoughts. They’ve become quieter now but still ever present. I seem to doubt myself or wonder if I’m up to the challenge. If this is the right thing for me and if I will succeed. It’s this worry that I’m a fraud and don’t belong. That I’ve somehow cheated my way here and none of it truly belongs to me.

To shine some light on the situation, I liked the Douglas College campus! The building itself was nice and there was almost always a Student Life or club stand/event. I’d also never been regularly outside of my city by myself, and driving into New West consistently made me feel part of something bigger. The flow of rush hour. The traffic light patterns I became accustomed to. It felt liberating. I was getting a true taste of independence and responsibility. And I liked it. Regardless of how much I was struggling with balancing it all, I could never see myself taking it back. There was something self assuring about every obstacle I overcame by myself. From getting coffee, to paying for parking, to working on projects in the psych lab. Every problem I confronted inevitably had a solution. And in the process of finding it, I found confidence in myself.

Over the course of the semester, I did my best to adjust to my schedule, there was no backing out once I committed. It was a learning experience and I know I’ve become more capable from it. I can say for certain that next semester will be smoother sailing. I’m still enjoying winter break but can’t wait to see what I’ll take on in 2023!

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