When coming into my first semester here at PSU, I can tell you with slight embarrassment, that I spent most of my four-hour car ride with my father in silence, looking out the window, crying. A very small part of me wanted to get away from home and re-create myself like everyone else, but a large chunk of my personality has always been fear. Before coming here, I was the most timid person in the entire universe. Maybe that’s a lie, but you get it, I was really shy. I didn’t speak to new people, when I did it was very short and one-sided. If I had to speak up at all in a class, my voice shook so hard people thought I would start crying. I would rant about how awkward I was and how nervous I was to all of my three friends, and it ruined even some of those relationships with how afraid I was of getting outside of my comfort level. I went into college with severe untreated social anxiety.
A large part of me worried that I wouldn’t fit in, and I would have to start over. Again. Freaking again. That maybe college would end up just like high school; feeling as if the world was against me. When I stepped on campus, ready to move in, I felt like I was going to puke. My legs felt like jello, and way more than your average ‘just drove 4 hours without a break’ jello. A bunch of the hockey and football team helped my dad and I herd all of my belongings up to my room. I remember the only thought I had being, oh my god these hunky guys are carrying my first stuffed animal no one is ever going to talk to me I’m so lame why did I bring that?!?!
Despite beating myself up over such a silly thing, I sat alone in the dining hall, had some tea, trying to figure out how the hell I was ever going to re-create myself when I was already feeling the nerves kick in. It was then that I met my first friend outside of orientation. He sat down across from me, and immediately my brain was freaking out. He introduced himself, we made small talk, and bonded over our passions about hiking (though he’s way more into it than I am). I have everything to thank for that friend. He knows who he is, but not how much he helped. After that, something clicked. My nerves were still there, but on the back burner. I said hello to everyone, almost idiotically, and anyone who struck up a conversation I was determined to befriend. I was still awkward, I’ll admit, but honestly, no one cared. Everyone was in their own way. We were all trying to fit in. And, well, I fit in.