There’s less than a month left in my first year of college. It’s felt like both forever has passed and no time at all, as most things seem to lately. I spent a lot of time over the last three years wondering what college would be like: where I would end up, people I would meet, what I would enjoy and things I would see. Still, it is impossible to imagine or plan for what’s coming until it happens.
When I decided to go to the University of Kentucky, I was excited but calm in a way that made me know it was the right choice. I spent the summer with an ever-expanding stack of things to pack when the time came and several checklists of random objects to pick up from Target to take with me. It took me a few days to make the campus familiar and a few trips home to make it feel like I wasn’t somehow living two separate lives, but eventually, I reached somewhat of an equilibrium.
One of the first things I did to make my life seem more normal was to join KRNL (shameless plug). I spent every minute of high school getting more and more involved with Yearbook, and once our book was printed and I was no longer Editor-in-Chief, I knew I needed something to fill that void. I was surprised to find a club that welcomed me so quickly and allowed me to use everything I had become passionate about at a higher level. And after starting to write for this blog right after coming to college, I’ve rediscovered my love for writing that I haven’t focused on in a few years.
So, that would be the first thing that’s shaped my experience at UK so far. If there’s something that you know you’re passionate about, push yourself to get involved with it as soon as you can rather than waiting until you feel qualified for it. Chances are, everyone else will think you’re more qualified than you do. And if you’re not, it will give you the experience to get better earlier on!
During the college application process, I didn’t fully know what I wanted to do with myself after I graduated, or even what I wanted out of a job. Not only did my first-ever college classes help me learn my “must-haves” for a career, but they also gave me a chance to practice brand new skills based on my interests. From filming a semester-long documentary about Starship robots to writing photo essays about Lexington’s cityscape to designing my own marketing campaign, the trust that my professors had in my ideas and ability to make them into something great showed me how much I needed that creativity to do my best work.
The main thing that I’ve realized about applying all of this to a world outside of college is that taking every opportunity that you think you can manage will not only give you more experience in the long run but also give you more confidence in your work and ability to grow now. If you find an opportunity that you want to pursue, there’s no better time than the present to take it, even if you feel too young or inexperienced to get it. The act of trying will mean a lot more to you and others than waiting for the best time.
Though UK hasn’t gone exactly as expected in any sense, I feel that even the mundane moments during this year and the next three years, like driving to Cookout on a random weeknight, taking walks to the edge of campus when the weather’s warm, hanging up a hammock by the library on a sunny day, or buying loads of candy to distract from the stress of finals week, will ring with nostalgia after I’ve moved on from Lexington. My time in college is far from over, but I’ve already felt the impact that it’s had on who I am and who I’ll become when I’m done.