Thursday, August 25 -- the night before my first day of college -- I toss and turn in my bed, staring at the hotel walls, wondering why this intense anxiety has overcome me. After all, what was there to worry about? Most people love their college experiences -- It's a place where one's curiosity can be satisfied, where we are exposed to a whole new world of ideas, friends, adventures and celebrations. "If I could have stayed in college for the rest of my life, I would have," claim many.
So why was I drowning in this pool of fear? Why wasn't I jumping for joy? Only later, as I calmed down, I realized that my response to change and to the unknown was perfectly natural. The nervous system seems to respond to change as if it is life threatening. It exposes us in a way that makes us distressed and self-conscious (for example, getting lost, being seen/feeling examined by others, not having a niche of friends to support and protect us).
In an effort to calm my nerves, I clung to the comforting phrase: "I am an adaptable person," and let it pass repeatedly through my brain until I fell asleep.
Friday morning I woke up and the frightening feeling overcame me yet again. But this time in a different manner: "What now?" I thought. I had tasks to accomplish in no particular order but my own. I had no one to tell me what to do or where I needed to be at what time. For the first time, it was all up to me. This is supposed to be a beautiful adventure - a chance for us to create our own lives built off of our interests. Doesn't it almost sound romantic? Why then was I panicking and scrambling for some structure?
However I found the act moving through these tasks very healing -- moving into my dorm, meeting with my advisor and discovering all my possible paths of study, finding the music I needed, meeting all of these friendly new people. As I took each of these small steps, each seemingly insignificant in itself, I realized I was making gradual but real progress towards my goal of making myself at home at Luther. I just had to break down the huge, scary metamorphosis into a series of small, do-able steps.
As I did so, I was gradually convinced that I would be just fine here at Luther. This is a place where everyone has the freedom to be themselves, to celebrate themselves and their passions, without ever a hint of fear of ridicule or judgment. As a student who has always thought herself a follower, Luther is pushing me out of my comfort zone and transforming me into a leader. Luther College will support and encourage me through challenging times, and will applaud my achievements. This is no advertisement that I was hired to write -- this is honest praise which Luther deserves. I can't think of a better place to spend my next four years.