First Semester Was NOT “The Time of My Life”

I need to apologize to everyone that follows me on social media. I need to apologize because I’ve been lying to everyone for the past few months. In August of 2017, I started my freshman year of college at American University, my dream school.

Why first semester is so hard for many students

Everyone told me how proud they were for following my dreams, and they told me that I would have the time of my life. I arrived to campus with stars in my eyes and dreams in my heart, ready to have the best years of my life. The first month or so was great. Everyone is nice to everyone in those first few weeks, because everyone is so excited to finally be in college, away from their parents for the first time. I quickly made friends and was loving every minute of college, I was experiencing new things, meeting new people, and taking new kinds of classes. But then, everything stopped being so new and exciting.

It seemed like the change of the leaves in the fall brought with it a change in atmosphere on campus. No longer were my fellow freshmen running around trying to make friends with everyone they met, and classes became work instead of fun.

It was October when I realized that the friends I had made during those crazy first weeks of school were not people I would have been friends with if it wasn’t for the proximity of our living spaces. I really began to feel like I was becoming someone that I wasn’t, and I didn’t like the way that I was acting, so I distanced myself. I spent more and more time alone until my only social interactions were in class or while I was walking down my dorm’s halls.

I spent more time talking to my mom and sister on the phone than I did talking to people at school. I have never felt so alone in my life. I tried to talk to other people in my dorm and people in my classes, but most people had already formed tight groups and weren’t always eager to add a new member. But every time I did hang out with other people, I posted it on social media. I saw all my friends from high school posting about how much fun they were having with pictures of them with their new best friends. I was so jealous. So I pretended that I was having the same experience. I pretended that I was having a great time when in reality, I spent most of my Friday nights in bed watching Netflix. So the reason I wrote this is to tell you that I am not having the time of my life.

Up until now I have been telling people that I’m so happy and that I love college, but in reality, November and December were probably the worst months of my life. I’m not saying this for attention or pity, I’m saying this for everyone who I’ve been lying to. I didn’t want anyone to know I was suffering because I just wanted to fit in.

I wanted people to think I was doing everything I had said I would do. I wanted to live up to all the expectations that people had set. So I hid my pain from people around me when I know I could have reached out, and people would have been there for me. And when I did tell people that I was having a tough time, I brushed it off like it was no big deal. It was a big deal though.

Why first semester is so hard for many students

I considered moving back home, I ended up in the ER one night with heart palpitations from all my anxiety, I had to take sleeping pills or else I’d be up all night, and I had my first major heartbreak. I even lost seven pounds because I stopped eating. None of those things should be brushed off like it’s no big deal.

I know that I am not alone. I know that many other people don’t have the time of their lives during their first semester, but nobody talks about it. Nobody posts about how much they miss their family or how they’re spending another Saturday night alone while everyone else is out partying.

We post pictures of us at parties with new friends, pictures of exciting places, or filtered pictures of ourselves smiling. But those are the highlights, and that’s all we see. So when you’ve hit rock bottom, and look around, you don’t see anyone around you, it’s just you, and the worst part is that no one knows you’re down there because you don’t want anyone to know.

This is insanely hard for me to post but I think it’s important that I share this so that no one feels alone. If you are not having the best time of your life, it’s okay, you don’t need to be embarrassed. I promise, no one will think any less of you for asking for help. The most important thing that I’ve learned in the past few months is that it’s in the hardest times that you find out who your true friends are, and I can’t even begin to thank all the people who’ve supported me. The point is, I’m done posting just to prove to myself that I’m happy when I’m not, and I urge everyone else to do the same. So, I’m sorry for lying these past few months, but I’m telling the truth when I say that I am doing better.


Dear Son, Stop Trying to Pretend You’re Happy 

7 Ways I Dealt With the Crippling Anxiety That Comes With College

Here Are The Best 12 Dorm Ideas You Won’t Want to Forget

About Sophie Lee

Sophie Lee is a recent graduate from Brandeis University where she earned a BA in Film, Television, and Interactive Media. She now works full time at a media agency in New York City. In her free time Sophie enjoys spending time with friends and family, and working on creative projects

Read more posts by Sophie

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