Frosh-cessities: Stretching your comfort zone

BrownUniversity-OpeningConvocation

You’re all moved in, you’ve met your roommates, you may have even gone to a few parties where you felt like a fish out of water. Now what?

We’ve all been there. The beginning of college can be exhilarating, awkward, and confusing all at the same time. It’s easy to get bogged down by how your experiences are matching up to your expectations.  You may meet people with whom you click right away and with whom you may not. You even may change friend groups six times in the next month – and that is more than okay. What you’re soon going to learn is that a lot is going to be thrown at you in the coming weeks and a lot may feel unfamiliar or even uncomfortable. The best way you can adjust to college is by embracing this discomfort with open arms.

Before I got to college, I did everything to plan how my entire experience would pan out. I took it upon myself to map out every detail of my Brown experience so that when I got there, all of my ducks would be in a row – I’d be completely comfortable and ready to have the best time. Before receiving my roommate assignment, I had already put classes in my Banner shopping cart for first and second semester,  I had planned out what clubs to join, and had even memorized the campus map so that I wouldn’t look like a doofus stumbling across campus. Fortunately, I knew that I couldn’t also expect to find my friends on Banner, so that saved me one step in my planning.

Besides memorizing the map, which I later learned can be found on the Brown University App, none of my planning really helped me. I took vastly different classes, I threw myself into student organizations I hadn’t dreamt of joining (sup, Blog), and I met people who I could not have anticipated meeting. I hadn’t considered all of the variables that extended beyond my control and became increasingly overwhelmed during my first  few weeks at Brown. Although you can certainly plan ahead certain aspects of your academic life at Brown, the passionate, vibrant, thoughtful, and bizarre people at this school truly paint the Brown experience and make this unbelievably special place what it is.

The most helpful piece of advice I received about getting settled in at college was to find the perfect balance of comfort and discomfort in your academic and social life. Seek out things that feel comfortable to you so that you can establish a foundation for yourself among the chaos that is orientation, shopping period, and a large part of first semester. Whether that be writing in a journal, finding the time to go for a run in Providence, or choosing your favorite place on campus to get breakfast, having some sense of a routine in your new home will allow you to feel increasingly comfortable in your own skin.

While creating familiarity with the things that you know is crucial, one of the most special things about Brown is the culture that supports its students to explore the less familiar. Allow your routine to provide you with the comfort to try new things and be open to new experiences. Shop everything and leave the class that you thought you were going to love but bores you to sleep in the middle of the lecture. Go to that club orientation that starts in ten minutes because your friend is going there after your Ratty dinner. Join the beard appreciation society if that’s what you’re feeling! The more you begin to stretch what is in your comfort zone, the more you’ll see how many other people are also doing the same.

What I’m trying to say is that the best way to get settled here is to stop planning the things that you think you were meant to do here, and experiment with the things you think you may want to do here. You are the only person who knows your boundaries, while also recognizing your incredible potential. Don’t take yourself too seriously — you know never what you’re going to stumble upon during your four years here.

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