For me, I’m not sure there’s anything as exciting as a fresh start. A new place, new faces, new memories to be made, and all the opportunity and room for growth lie just ahead of you. However, ‘new’ and ‘perfect’ are not synonymous with each other. Sometimes, it is actually quite the opposite. Suddenly, the overwhelming excitement and shine of it all fades and the synonyms feel more like ‘terrified’ ‘hurting’ or ‘lonely.’

I have a tendency to live life in extremes. I am an intense person with so much energy and so many ambitions. It is easy for me to fall into an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, and I have been working on living a balanced life for what feels like an eternity (and I still have a lot of progress to make.) However, in a period of transition, everything feels like an extreme and emotions are amplified. College is much more of a transition than I was ever led to believe. It is a lot more challenging than I anticipated BUT; it is also the greatest gift I could have ever worked towards, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Here is a little window into the gift and the whirlwind that has been my college transition so far. I hope you are able to walk away and feel a little more at peace with whatever transition is occurring in your life – we all have one – and continue to seek the beauty within.

The food really is not ideal. Swiping that meal card in three times a day feels more like a chore than the privilege it really is to not be food insecure. It’s easier sometimes to just not eat. Being gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, you name it, feels sometimes like mission impossible. Purchasing healthy, organic food in new york city as a student could be an option if you’re okay with selling a few organs. Breakouts? You can peg a freshman by them. Monday mornings I find myself feeling slimmer, bloated, red, frustrated and exhausted all at once.

Most people are lovely. Really, really lovely. But some aren’t! Some will not hold the door for you, your laundry might find its way onto a floor or a ledge if you are late to switch it to the dryer, and mean girl pettiness holds its own piece of ground in college (it is a really small piece, but still exists.) Rummaging around your room in the dark isn’t an option, as this isn’t the house you’ve lived in for thirteen years and you have no idea where anything is. Little pangs of missing the small comforts of home feel sometimes more like piercing hailstones. My brother knows not to talk to me before coffee cup #2. No one is up for a hug anytime like my mom is. And what if I want to just sit in my pajamas and laugh at life with my dad?

Then there’s the workload and the pressure and the expectations. There’s the scholarship money at stake and midterms looming ahead and yikes, that textbook was hundreds, I should read it more. There’s the panic of sleeping through your early class and then one second you’re eating granola and the tiny voice of doubt pipes up and says, “what made you think you could ever cut it here?”

Lastly you mix in trying to teach yourself how to manage a budget, how to separate yourself from toxic people, and the consistent task of sticking firm to your values when it feels like everyone is having an identity crisis (it’s because everyone really is.)

All of the sudden you’ve got this weird and messed up equation that is your life now, and your whole being is screaming, please someone show me where I signed up for this.

and that moment when you’re so overdone and so burnt out and are about to throw in the towel, really beautiful things start happening.

All of the sudden everyone in your friend group has a nickname. No one eats alone in the dining hall. Where I live in the city is now referred to as ‘my neighborhood.’ You have a coffee buddy, a walking buddy, a favorite professor, and friends that you know are going to one day be the godparents of your kids. There’s your favorite bar and favorite taco place, and the girl at the grocery store who always seems to have the best advice.

All of the sudden you and your roommate are screaming along to the fray at 1 in the morning after you feel like your heart has been shattered once again, and everything is fine. Actually, it’s a lot more than that. Roomie knows that you get down to Fetty Wap, can’t stand fluorescent clock lights at night, need your hair consistently played with and have a thing for drinking multiple beverages at once. Study abroad plans, smashing the patriarchy, and stepping out of the comfort zone are now regular discussions.

Then out of nowhere you’re realizing new dreams and overcoming old weaknesses. To top it off, you’ve now got ridiculously qualified professionals helping you achieve those dreams, and friends who are there in a second making you laugh when everything feels like it is falling apart.

You have nights crying in your bed. That foam pad you put on the twin doesn’t really feel like it is adding much to the whole plastic mattress situation. You replay moments with him in your head that you promised you wouldn’t waste another ounce of energy on.

but what is different this time? through it all, there is an underlying happiness that cannot be shaken. not by anything or anyone. my resilience carries me.

SO WHAT AM I EVEN GETTING AT?

you will fight with your roommate. you will get bad grades. you will be disappointed by the boy. BUT. you will get past that fight and feel closer than ever. you will get an A on a paper. and you will meet other boys just as cute, who build you up instead of chip away at your joy.

I am happy. I have my basic human and safety needs met. I have a lot more than that. I have abundant blessings despite recent trauma. I have big dreams and a beautiful heart still beating away and friends that feel more like sisters every day.

New York City is my home now. But I also consider a lot of other places home too. And when I started seeking the beauty in the little things, the pain that exists within in me became dimmer, and small joys added up to a Johanna ready to set her world on fire.

Set your world on fire. Let transitions be hard but work through it instead of against it. Don’t forget to surround yourself with others that remind you not only of the blessings you have, but the blessing that you ARE. God Bless.

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