Goodbye, for now

College was once a foreign concept; it was something that I could see in the rearview mirror, unaware of how close it was until the time came to pack my bags and embark on what would be my journey for the next four years. Now that I’ve finally arrived, it feels like I’ve been here for ages instead of just three months. People say time flies when you’re having fun, but that does not stop me from relishing in the syrupy sweetness of the day-to-day. As these days become shorter, anticipation for the next semester unfurls, a flower blooming in my chest, ready to burst with the possibilities for the future. With my first chapter coming to a close, I find it imperative to reflect on where I am now and how much I’ve grown from my first week to my last.

Going into the semester, I planned to approach school with the same mentality I have always used: go to class, study hard, and get good grades. Remember to have a positive attitude and things will go your way. This train of thought is simple enough to apply to classes, and I would say that I have been successful. Some classes are tougher than others, such as the music class that I’m taking despite the reality of not being musically inclined. In the end, however, I am quite happy with my grades. My one caveat is that I am reluctant to share these accolades with my friends for fear of coming across like I’m bragging when honestly I’m just proud of myself and want to share my achievements. Luckily, my mom always loves to hear that I’m doing well in school.

That being said, stress has continued to be a good friend of mine, haunting me in my quietest moments, telling me my hard work isn’t enough, seeping through my schoolwork, and lingering in my brain. I know managing mental health is important, so I try to take moments in between my schoolwork to decompress. Most of the time, I do this either by watching a mindless T.V. show (something funny where the only thing I’m thinking about is how much my stomach hurts from laughing), or picking up a book (usually one I have read before where I can easily be sucked into the familiar world). Getting a small break from reality is never not a treat, but real life stops for no one, and no matter how much I may not want to do it, the work still needs to be done.

Outside of classes, my friends and I are counting down the days until we get to go home for Thanksgiving break. It seems that ever since midterms, we have been chugging along slowly, waiting until we got another break from the flurry of assignments and onslaught of tests. Before we can take that break, another necessary task needs to be completed: registration for next semester. It is the first time that we get the chance to choose our classes, asserting control over our own schedules and getting another taste of independence. I created my schedule with time and care, making it specifically to finish the rest of my general education requirements and get started on my path in the childhood/special education program. In between planning out my schedule and willing the next break to come faster, there is also the buzz of anticipation for the upcoming holiday season. As the only Jew in my friend group, I get to celebrate earlier than most, with the first night of Hanukkah falling at the end of November. While I’m disappointed that I don’t get to spend this holiday with my family, that will not deter me from educating my friends about the Jewish culture and forcing them to wrap my holiday gifts in Hanukkah wrapping paper. Despite how much there is to look forward to, I am content to live my life in the present.

Throughout my years in school, I have noticed that people tend to measure time in terms of the next break. Soon enough, we will blink and leave for winter break, wondering when days that felt slow as molasses turned into a whirlwind of finals and packing bags to return home for the next month. When classes pick up again, people will twiddle their thumbs, waiting on bated breath for spring break, then to leave for the summer. I am not one of these people; I would rather live my life in the here and now, reveling in the way the ivy climbs up the brick buildings in an ever-changing rainbow, than spur it along without a second thought. These moments are precious, as time stops for no one. Maybe one day, when I am on the brink of graduation, I will reflect on these blogs and reminisce on my first semester at Geneseo. Maybe another student will read them and relate to my anecdotes. I can only plan so far ahead. What I do know is that this project allowed me to ruminate over all the aspects of my life since I’ve arrived at Geneseo. I am happy with what I have discovered about myself thus far; all I can do now is wait to see what tomorrow brings.

The deep end

A chill settles over the valley. Trees rustle in the wind. Leaves shed their green coats, making way for vibrant colors that paint a bright blue backdrop accented by dollops of fluffy white clouds. As the changes to nature become more prominent, there is a significant shift across campus. Attitudes are easy going as the summer air transitions into slowly mounting stress. Assignments begin to pile up, deadlines coming in at a breakneck pace. Once clear minds are cluttered, and noses can no longer breathe in the crisp mountain air. Autumn has arrived, and with it, the school year has officially begun.

This introduction may sound like an exaggeration, but trust that it is not. Although I do not perceive my workload as insurmountable, there are some weeks when I wake up and just know that I’m going to have my work cut out for me. I stare, blank faced at my agenda, pen at the ready, scribbling down the game plan for the week ; in my opinion, the best way to stay on task is to be organized. While I am not too enthused about the stress clawing at my insides, it does signal that school has finally gotten into the swing of things. I am no longer a clueless freshman trying to navigate her way across campus; I am your average, run-of-the-mill college student. In a way, the stress is comforting, as it is something I have felt all through middle and high school. I am a person who has always strived to do their best in the classroom. If there is anything I know how to do, it is how to be a good student. That means that when I get to class, my notebook is my best friend. I take notes, staying engaged from start to end even if the class is not one I am particularly interested in. To my relief, my dedication to school paid off, as evidenced by my grades, which I am sufficiently proud of, as it is always a nice feeling to know that your hard work has been rewarded. As luck would have it, I found friends with similar philosophies regarding school. Even though classes have gotten harder as the semester commenced, having friends who possess similar drives to me make each day a little easier. That means oftentimes we can be found grabbing a bite to eat before settling into a quiet spot to study. Even though that may not sound like an ideal college experience, school is one of my top priorities and I want to do well. Besides, this makes the moments when I can push aside my notes and relax that much sweeter.

Speaking of sweet moments, I visited home for the first time since I’ve been at school. For my first visit, I took the Amtrak. Because I live on Long Island, that meant 7 hours of anticipation and surviving the frenzy of Penn Station at rush hour, capped by yet another 40 minutes sitting on a train. My weariness from travel didn’t do anything to dampen my giddiness, as there is no place like home. Despite being back in my element, I felt slightly out of place. Everything seemed so much smaller, and it’s not just because I didn’t need to use a stepstool to get on my bed. My time was temporary. No matter how comfortable I was, I knew it wasn’t going to last. Even with this cloudy thought looming in the back of my mind, nothing compared to the joy I felt when I hugged my mom and my sister. I am not ashamed to say that I am one of those people whose family also doubles as some of their best friends. The weekend passed in a blur of eating good food (nothing beats a Long Island bagel), running mundane errands, and catching up from the time the sun touched the sky to when it dipped below the horizon. Before I knew it, I was on a plane and thrust back into the swing of things. I’m grateful for the momentary reprieve, but it feels good to be on campus. As much as I love my home and my family, that’s not my life anymore; living on campus, juggling school work with spending time with my friends- that is.

By the end of the semester, I am not sure where I will be. I imagine I will be continuing to maintain the delicate balance between studying for classes and hanging out with my friends. At some point in the near future, I will be meeting with my advisor to begin forming my schedule for next semester. I will have visited home once more, placing me in a limbo where I long for the comforts of home while craving the life I have carved for myself out here. These are all things I anticipate; [JA5] however life is unpredictable. I can’t say that I will be better or worse than I was at the start of the semester. I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing this weekend. Looking beyond the torrent of emotions brewing inside me, I can say most days have been happy. I’ve had experiences that I never thought I would get to have, that I thought would stay in my dreams as I went through life passively. I continue to set goals for myself, in and out of class, that I plan on accomplishing without changing the core of who I am. Above it all, I recognize that I’m growing up. College has been good to me thus far, and in my quest to assert myself, I can confidently say that as of now, there is no place I’d rather be.

Baby steps

Life is measured in a series of milestones. When one is completed, we are always looking ahead, never taking a moment to stop and reflect on how we got there. At this stage in our lives, college is that milestone. The time where we finally get to dictate our own future and make decisions that can impact them. It is a place where we can assert our independence, find our voice, and take that next step towards finding our place in the world. That last aspect- finding one’s voice- has been my greatest challenge thus far. Although I haven’t had difficulty finding it, gaining the confidence to use it has troubled me, whether it be for a major or menial task. The prospect of asking someone something sends waves of anxiety coursing through my body, the sick anticipation eating away at my insides. I’ve always played it safe, relying on other people to cushion my fear. This isn’t always going to be the case. I need to learn how to assert myself.

To start off, let me introduce myself. My name is Sheridan Morgan, I am a freshman Childhood/Special Education major, and as I stated previously the sheer thought of speaking up makes me feel like I’m going to puke. That sickly emotion is exactly why that is the goal I chose to tackle in my early days at Geneseo. In order to do so, I devised a loose plan. The first step in that plan was finding the right people to surround myself with, which I have done. Making friends was the most nerve-wracking thought about college, as I am the type of person who needs to be coaxed out of their shell before revealing their true colors. I challenged myself to present that image from the start. This outlook paid off, as it led me to make the group of friends I have now. In the short time we’ve known each other, we’ve become practically inseparable. They’ve encouraged me to push myself, understanding that while the idea of speaking up scares me (if it’s for something that matters) the result will be worth it. Recently, I have been faced with certain instances where I’ve needed to push through my doubts and speak up. The first instance was asking to join an intramural soccer team. Soccer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As I got older, I used it to stay fit as opposed to working out at a gym, and I became more intent on honing my skills to become a better player. I wasn’t quite ready to give it up, so when the opportunity arose, I joined. To be fair, it wasn’t all me- I had a friend by my side, hyping me up the whole time. While her presence was much appreciated, I still hadn’t conquered the task of speaking up on my own.

One of the things that drew me to Geneseo was the level of communication between the school and the student. As someone who is afraid to reach out to others first, it was refreshing to see that there were people putting in the effort to facilitate a connection. However, in the back of my mind I knew that the work wasn’t always going to be done for me. Just the other day, I reached out to my academic advisor for the first time. Most people would think nothing of that, but most people don’t have the tendency to overcomplicate things. Ask me to write an email- sure, I can do that easily. Ask me to send the email- it might end up in my drafts until I work up the nerve to hit that tiny, blue button. I try to forget I even sent the email, otherwise, I tend to worry, “Will this person think my questions or concerns are weird?” When the response from my advisor was positive and ripe with anticipation to meet with me, some of that initial fear began to feel a bit foolish. While the social aspects of speaking up are daunting, when I am in class, I don’t have that issue. I have always been that nerdy kid who loved to learn and share their opinions, so talking in class is not a problem. Besides, it is easier to put yourself out there when the subject matter is something you know like the back of your hand. In most of my classes I strive to participate, contributing to conversations to benefit both myself and the entire class discussions.

Other than being a milestone, something that is repeatedly said about college is that it is a place to reinvent and discover yourself. I disagree. I am happy with who I am, and have already put in the effort to being comfortable with that person. I am more so of the thought that college is a place for you to reflect on the pieces of who you are, and whether you shall embark on a journey of self-improvement. Using my voice with confidence is the beginning of mine, and the first of many. This goal may not be reached today, and it may not be reached tomorrow, but I hope to get to the point where my fears are nonexistent, so that I am ready to formally introduce my true self to the world.