College is supposed to be one of the greatest times in your life. At least that’s what you’ve been told. For the most part, it will be. You will explore new environments, make new friends, and discover things about yourself that you never knew. However, there is a less glamorous side of college that is not really talked about: the transition that takes place during this time.
Change is the only thing that is constant in life. People change jobs, schools, homes, etc. We can’t stop it. Sometimes it can be wonderful and other times not so much. Learning how to properly deal with that transition is very important. It’s a life skill. This is especially true in college where most major changes happen, like moving away from home, learning to take care of yourself, and many others. Since we know dealing with change is not easy, here are our tips on how to deal with it.
We are fully aware that this is easier said than done. However, it sets the foundation for everything else. The worst way to handle change is to fight it. Resistance is indeed futile. In college, it may seem like it’s all happening so fast. It can be a lot to handle. By embracing it, you are showing that you have control. There will be many times when we can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can always choose how we respond to what happens to us.
Find your outlet
Your outlet is the positive thing you do to combat those feelings of stress, anxiety, and nervous energy. This is especially good to have if you’re away at college where family and close friends may not be as accessible. It’s also ok to have more than one. Some people write in their journals, others take a walk or meditate, some turn up the volume to dance and listen to music.
Having a positive outlet when it comes to dealing with the transition is important because that is your release from the outside world and the stresses of life. College can be stressful. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed. Try to dedicate some time to your positive outlet daily. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes at the start or the end of your day. Anytime you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, just take a moment and reset. You’ll be surprised what a difference that can make.
Take it one day at a time
You’ve heard that ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Consider that when dealing with change. A big mistake we can sometimes make is expecting it to happen all at once. That’s an unrealistic expectation. Real change takes time, it is a process. That said, don’t beat yourself up if it takes you a little more time to catch onto things. That’s normal in college and life. Even when it seems like people are getting ahead of you, or that you should be in this place because your friends are, try not to compare yourself. There are going to be days where it seems like everyone around you has it together. Everybody operates at different speeds. All you have to do is find yours. College doesn’t come with an official blueprint. Your job is to focus on the next 24 hours in front of you and what you can control. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time soon enough you’ll get there.
Talk to someone about the transition
This can be an older friend or family member who has successfully made it through college, the RA in your dorm, your advisor, or it can be a professional. There are many colleges and universities that offer counseling services for students. Take advantage of them if you need to. Talking to someone that has been through what you’re going through is very important. You can usually come to them with any questions, concerns, or ask for advice and it makes you feel like you’re not alone. This helps make the change easier and more manageable. In college, especially if you’re away, you can sometimes feel alone. Having someone to talk to is also encouraging because you feel that if they can make it, so can you. Always find time to talk to someone and not just when you feel like you need a pick me up. Keep in contact regularly. Communication is key when you’re dealing with change.
Find the positive
Stay positive! A big part of dealing with change is how you respond to the change. Negative thinking produces negative results. If you’re constantly dwelling on the way things were or complaining about the present, then change will always be a burden. Instead, focus on the good. Look for new possibilities and the bright side. For example, you may not like that you have an 8 am class because you’re not a morning person. Flip that perspective. You may not consider yourself a morning person, but at least you can get that class out of the way early so you can go back to your dorm/apartment and sleep later.
Positive thinking shifts your thoughts from the problem to the solution. The cliche is true: every cloud does have a silver lining. You just have to take the time and look for it. There’s some good in everything.
Everyone handles the transition differently. There are some of us who embrace it fully with expectation and excitement. There are some of us who struggle with it and need time to adjust. It’s ok to be on either side. At times, we all can be a little of both. The point is not to try to prevent it or run from it, but always to learn and grow from it. Always aim to change for the better.