Yes, It Does Get Better
During my first year at Kenyon, whenever I or anyone around me felt particularly overwhelmed or homesick, the mantra seemed to be “it gets better.” Because yes, the first year is really hard; it’s a transitional period, and you’re moving away from familiar territory and into the unknown, seemingly alone. I remember so many people telling me to just get through the year, and once I did, I’d be eager to return in the fall.
Of course, my first year was anything but a slog, and I definitely found myself enjoying my schoolwork and the Kenyon environment in general. By the end of the year, I was much happier and confident than I was at the beginning, and so I will repeat that it does get better, in case the current first-year students aren’t sick of hearing that already.
However, when I returned to campus this fall, I couldn’t help but feel like I was letting myself down. Everyone had told me that, come the beginning of my sophomore year, I would feel nothing but excitement to return to college. The truth of the matter is this: When I came back, I was pretty bummed out. Not only was summer over, but now I had to go back to sharing a bathroom, to buying my own soap, to being completely independent again.
I spent a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I excited to be back at college? Was it me? Was it the college? The truth was that I just had heard so many people say I would be happy the second I set foot back on campus that I believed that I had to be.
But let’s be real here: You’re coming back from a summer of no schoolwork, of sun and air-conditioned rooms (or just generally temperature-controlled places). You’re leaving behind friends at home, whom you’ve been with the entire summer. You’re leaving behind your pets, your annoying sibling (but you’ll miss them too!) and your parents. It’s unfair to expect yourself to be completely 100 percent happy to be back at college when you’re leaving so many things behind. And even though you’ve done it before, having to do it again is only so much easier.
The one thing that really does make the start of sophomore year easier is that you’ve already established a community at Kenyon. After only a couple days of missing what you’ve left behind, you’ll be out at Peirce and find all your friends sitting at a table, and you’ll hear what everyone’s been up to over the summer. You’ll get to do all the things you wished you had done at the start of your first year (Ballroom Dance Club for me. I was far too terrified to attend as a first-year). You’ll start classes with a whole year of experience under your belt, and you’ll know what to expect.
It does get better, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be hard at first. Take some time to get adjusted, don’t pressure yourself to feel happy before you’re ready, and make sure to try some new things at the beginning of the year, because that’s the best time to experiment!