Dear Freshman Year,
You’ve taught me a lot of lessons, broken me down, built me up, and redesigned me from the inside out. Honestly, I felt like I was a house from “Extreme Home Makeover.” I don’t mind that you’ve changed me though, because so much of that change has been for the better. So as a tribute to you, here’s some things that you have helped me with and given me.
I’m better at getting lost.
When I got lost all those times in the first few weeks of college, I often found myself waiting for someone to ask for directions, but as that semester continued, I found that, not only did I get lost less, when I did, I was able to better problem solve and find my way on my own. When you are blind, good problem solving skills are some of the absolute most important skills to have. But it was not until last week, when I got myself out of a particularly interesting situation, that I realized how far I’ve come. No matter how much I practiced traveling in high school, nothing could have prepared me for the world better than the real experience of traveling 100% alone.
You’ve allowed me to meet great people.
Over this passed year, I have met some pretty amazing people. In my first few hours at BW, I had no idea that I had already met some of my best friends. It’s funny how things work out. I am honestly not sure what I’d do without them. It is such an amazing thing to have people cheering right alongside you, wishing for your success as much as you are their’s. The groups of friends I have are so diverse, and it is actually the best thing ever.
Through meeting and being friends with such fantastic people, I’ve learned that not all friends have to be lifelong friends. Some are just friends for a passing moment, and that is okay. You love them, and you learn from them, and you teach one an other, and eventually a time comes when you must let them go. Almost like the caterpillars we raise in elementary school.
We love them because they are important to us. We make houses for them just before they form their chrysalis’s, and we watch them grow and change. Then they change into butterflies, and we have to free them. We want to hold on to those butterflies because they mean so much to us, even if we don’t really realize exactly what their significance is. So we say our goodbyes, open the the little houses we made, and we let them go. Maybe, if we’re lucky, as I was, our butterflies will hesitate a moment on our fingers, just long enough to take a picture and make an impression, and then they fly away. Secretly, you hope that they’ll come back to you, and maybe they would, but they flew so fast and far that you know they’ll never find you. And for a moment or two, you cry, but then you realize that your butterfly needed room to grow, and you helped it along the best you could.
Freshman year taught me that it’s okay to be yourself.
I imagine that it’s a great feeling to no longer have to ask yourself, “Who am I?” I’m not entirely sure though, as I’m not quite done answering that question yet myself, but I am so much closer than I ever was. After some time on your own in college, you start to realize that you don’t have to be afraid to be yourself. You don’t have to fight the changes you go through. If the people around you don’t accept you as you grow, then maybe you’ve grown out of them. Maybe you are the butterfly, and know that it is okay to fly away. Also, learn to LOVE YOURSELF! Loving yourself may take some time, but put forth the effort, because it feels good to slowly begin loving all of the aspects, the good and the bad, that make you you. And finally:
Do NOT be afraid to ask for help.
Whether you have a disability or not, you must advocate for yourself. If you need help, seek it. No one will help you if you do not ask for it. Never be afraid to admit that you need help; it is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It was so hard for me to ask for help, but it is getting easier. I’m used to hoping for the best and just trying to do everything on my own, but I’m slowly, very slowly, realizing that I should not be embarrassed to ask for help. But old habits die hard.
I am still learning to advocate for myself, and love myself, and accept friends as they come and go, but Freshman Year, you have given me the building blocks to do it all. Thank you for showing me a small piece of the world.