Reflecting on a not-so-stolen Freshman year

BY CJ GIBSON

The pandemic didn’t steal my freshman year.

It just made my experience a little more…limited.

And after my first year of what others may consider the “full” college experience, I’ve come to realize: even at a smaller school like FHSU, there’s more happening than I can keep up with.

Maybe Student Engagement swung back a little hard after a year and a half of primarily virtual activities.

Or maybe my Honors College overachiever FOMO exaggerated all that I was potentially missing.

But when I look back on my COVID-centered freshman year, with its less essential lectures, a shorter list of active student organizations, and an increased emphasis on mental health and self-care, I wonder whether the “full” college experience is truly the best one.

As I watch incoming freshmen, ambitious to fill their schedules with as many clubs and events as will fit, making the most of their first 40 Days and beyond, I am exhausted by proxy.

While regular get-togethers with peer mentors and active Living Learning Communities and all the other freshman-only advantages may have helped me get settled, I found my way eventually. And when I consider all of the on-campus opportunities since de-masking, it seems overwhelming.

Would I have been able to slow down and write articles if as a freshman I would have constantly feared missing out on something?

So while I’ll admit at first I held a touch of envy towards the post-pandemic freshmen, I realize I was lucky: I could take my time learning to balance college life without a calendar stuffed with in-person opportunities.

I hope the incoming students have the chance to slow down and prioritize their mental health, too.

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