Eight months ago, just as most incoming freshmen were compiling extensive lists of their top dorm room necessities, I composed a list of 75 worries running through my mind prior to starting my first year of college.
Although I spent a considerable portion of the summer crying as I reminisced about high school and said goodbye to my friends from home as though they were departing for the guillotine, this list was not just assembled merely for the drama of the moment; I had every intention of referencing it throughout the year and laughing as a conquered each “milestone.”
Before you roll your eyes and laugh at how dorky I am, allow me to assure you that I have not followed through with my initial plan for this list. In fact, it hasn’t even crossed my mind since the moment I capped my pen after jotting it down, and I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t actually worried about 75 different aspects of college– I brainstormed many of them just so I could reach a psychologically satisfying number. (Okay, now you can laugh about how much of a dork I am.)
This week marked the last week of my freshman year of college, and being the overly-nostalgic person that I am, I decided to dig out this list to commemorate the occasion. As I read it over, I was surprised by how many of the items I had accurately predicted and relieved by how many others were really never as big of an issue as I had anticipated.
I laughed when #15 (What happens when I sleep walk/talk/cry?) reminded me of all the bizarre one-liners my roommate blurted out in the middle of the night, and I smiled when #33 (How do you caption pictures with people you barely know?) made me think of the first photo I posted of my newfound college companions.
But as I thought about all of the people who made these memories possible, it truly occurred to me just how much of an attachment I had to worry #3: Who will I hug in college?
Now, I wasn’t talking about the creepy, “What new people can I wrap my arms around today?” kind of hug– I’m talking about the, “I’m sad and miss home and am overwhelmed by the amount of work that I have to do” kind of hug.
This worry began to vanish the second I met my first roommate, Lisa. As I sat on the floor of my dorm room unpacking my clothes, Lisa burst through the door and immediately greeted me with a gigantic– though inevitably awkward– hug. Although hugging someone who is basically a stranger is generally frowned upon, Lisa’s warm welcome assured me that I would, in fact, have friends in college after all.
Meeting people in college was very similar to meeting people in kindergarten. To answer worry #6, greeting people by saying, “Hi, my name’s Mallory. What’s yours?” was often the most effective way to spark a memorable conversation, though it wasn’t the only manner in which I met my new friends.
Some burst into my life so enthusiastically that I couldn’t help but feel totally immersed in their laughter and stories; others required a moment of awkward courage to break the Internet-to-real life barrier. Some turned out to be mutual friends of those I’ve met before, and others, through the magic of recruitment, instantly embraced me the moment I became their sister.
All, however, had a funny way of entering my life exactly when I needed them, and quite frankly, I’m not sure if I could have survived the year without their advice, laughter and, of course, hugs.
One year ago, one of my best friends posted a picture on Instagram of her and her friends to mark the end of their first year of college; naturally, it was accompanied by a sappy caption powerful enough to make anyone feel sentimental:
As I read over her words a second and third time, I thought about how impossible it seemed for people to become that good of friends in just one school year. In that moment, I couldn’t have imagined the friends that awaited me at Ohio University, and I certainly couldn’t have fathomed how difficult it would be to say goodbye to them, even for just three months.
So brace yourselves, my friends, for an aggressive “welcome back” hug when we reunite in the fall.