Hungry Haley

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Freshman Year and The "Freshman Five"

Haley HansenComment

269 days ago, my parents and I were playing suitcase-tetris in the SoCal sun, trying to load our station wagon with all my crap stuff I’d be taking with me to school. To Cal Poly SLO for my freshman year, that is.

Two hundred and sixty nine days ago. What? And now I’m a sophomore?

Not to be cliché, but time really does fly. It’s kind of crazy how, when we’re in the moment, time can feel like it wants each second to last a minute, but when the moment(s) is over, we wonder where all that time went so quickly. Accepting my high school diploma felt that way, packing up our car 269 days ago felt that way, and now, lying in my own bed on summer vacation sans all the overwhelming, pimple-inducing stress of the end of the quarter.

Every single one of those 269 days had some significance to it. And I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say something like that about such a long period of time. You know?

The first couple of months were hard, which is something all freshmen hear. I heard it about eight hundred times from my mom alone. Each time she or someone else told me that, I was like, “Yeah, I KNOW. I’m sitting on my bedroom floor, crying, with no friends. I KNOW IT’S HARD.”

Then, God started to be really cool, though. I read one Psalm each morning to begin my day on a good note, I worked pretty hard in my classes (Pre-Calc, Architecture History, and Econ), and I got a job in downtown SLO at the best café ever.

And things kept moving uphill from there. God blessed me with a bible study. Wait, no. It was so much more than that.

The girls I met in that group became my study-buddies, my weekend warriors, my mutual late-night-donut cravers, my laughter-inducing, stress-reducing life-savers.

My best friends.

The final months of the year could not have been better. Actually, overall, the year could not have been better. Yes, even the challenging start was a blessing in disguise.

I feel like I’ve never grown this much in my entire life, which is saying a lot, considering I’ve gone from like 12 inches in length to over 5 feet. Ha, I’m funny.

Anyway, for those of you heading off to college soon, here’s the advice I can give you…

The Freshman Five

1.     Don’t be afraid of change. It may become your most frequent guest, so welcome it as best you can. Yes, change is hard, but change happens everyday. We might not even realize that. College itself is one of the biggest changes you’ll experience, and after you get through the initial transition, everything else is manageable.

2.    Be vulnerable. I’ve met a lot of people who tell me they were intimidated by me at first, and I’ve noticed how much I really do come off that way. Smile at people, even if you don’t know them. Especially if you don’t know them. Let down your guard, swallow your pride, show others that your acceptance/friendliness/relatability/whatever it is. If you’re stuck inside your confidence, potential friendships get locked outside your little bubble.

3.    Buckle yourself in. What I mean here is that, if life is rollercoaster, faith is your seatbelt. Life will take you through hoops, upside down, backwards, flip you over and then do it again. I promise, yes, promise, you’ll be safe in your faith. Find a book of daily devotionals, pray – before a test, on your way to work, after work, whenever – just talk to God, and remember that He is your safety buckle.

4.    Surround yourself with similarities. You’re on a new campus, with new faces, new teachers, new classmates, new roommates – pretty much new everything. And that can be really scary and uncomfortable. So find something familiar. Join a club or bible study, try out for a sports team, seek out others who are interested in the same things you are. Soon enough, you’ll feel at home.

5.    Trust God. If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably heard this your whole life. And it’s one of the hardest, most annoying things to hear sometimes. But it’s the most powerful piece of advice you can take from anyone. Know that God has a purpose in everything – in sending you to college, in placing you in a certain dorm, in blessing you with challenges (yes, they are blessings). He knows what He is doing, and He has your best interest as His number one priority. Give Him your fears, your worries, your failures, and your smiles.

Most of all, just get excited! College is, for lack of better words, the best.

If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to help. I’m no life-expert, but God has challenged me, taught me, and blessed me, and I’m here to share the crazy love He shows us. Email or comment below – can’t wait to hear from you guys!