Lessons learned over break: The impact of growing pains


Illustration by Ren Rader

I like to think that I’m a strong, resilient person, but almost every part of my first semester of college pushed me past the point of healthy growth. The bad outweighed the good from the start, and in mid-October, I started counting down the days until I went home for winter break. Once my last exam rolled around, I wanted nothing more than to run home and never come back to this school. When I think back to this past fall semester, I almost shudder at how badly I let it treat me.

Before I continue this column, I feel like I need to sift through my feelings and apply some logic as I write because Trinity is not a bad school. I just think it might not be for everyone; I’m not even sure if it’s for me. I feel like it takes a certain personality trait to thrive here, but I’m not sure what it is. All I know is that “Fall Semester Nina” didn’t have it, yet I managed to survive even when things hit the fan. In the end, I learned some pretty valuable lessons.

The first thing I learned is that, for the most part, college is not the way the media portrays it. You don’t find your best friends the week you move in, and your professors don’t climb onto tables in order to make the lectures interesting. The only accurate depiction I can think of is the happiness you feel when a class is canceled. Other than that, feel free to romanticize your life, but don’t expect things to be a movie all of the time.

Along with realizing college isn’t a movie, I learned about the impact of growing pains. I’ve learned growing pains can encompass almost anything under the sun and beyond; some of the pains will hurt differently than others. They’re also inevitable and tend to be at their peak right about now.

For me, going to college meant being away from home for months at a time for the first time ever. As a result, figuring out how to deal with homesickness and impostor syndrome were both growing pains of mine. I learned that homesickness may fade once you go home again, but there will always be at least a shred of you that doesn’t want to leave. Similarly, I learned that impostor syndrome is manageable, but that journey isn’t always a smooth one. One day you might have all your ducks in a row, but the next day you walk into class and just feel plain dumb.

Another growing pain of mine was accepting that most of the relationships you cultivate now are temporary. You and the friend you swore you’d keep in touch with from high school might drift apart; that doesn’t make the friendship any less meaningful. Similarly, those friendships you made orientation week weren’t a waste either; you all helped each other transition into a very difficult part of your life. Most of the relationships you have now are for growth, but at the end of the day, it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually kind of beautiful.

Lastly, I learned that I have a say in what stresses or hurts me because I can change any part of my life at any point if I want to. I realized how crazy it is that I can cut my hair at whichever ungodly hour of the night I choose or that I can even start a YouTube channel to teach people how to crochet. The point is that I learned I don’t have to waste my days in my dorm or force myself to stay in a class that I don’t like because I am in control, so I have to be wise in choosing what I allow to hurt or stress me and release everything else I deem not worthy.

The beautiful thing is I’ve already started making changes. In fact, my first one is to be kinder to myself, so I’ve decided to take classes that better suit my interests this semester. I also decided that as comfortable as my desk chair is, I have to get out more, so you might find me in Storch instead. And lastly, after a lot of thought, I decided that I need to start writing for myself. What you’re reading now is my last column for the Trinitonian, so thank you to everyone who read what I had to say; it means the world to me.

That being said, throughout my college journey and beyond I will continue to stumble, grow, and learn. I think I just need to let things flow and help myself out when I’m struggling. May this semester be better than the last.