Hey Freshmen: Stop Assuming So Much

It's hard to believe that I'm preparing to go Back to School for the last time in my undergraduate career, possibly the last time ever. I feel excluded from those Target commercials full of highlighters, puppy dog folders, and crayons as I find myself just buying a single notebook and a pack of notecards to gear up for the year. Imagining myself as a senior in college was for the longest time kind of like imagining myself as a princess or a world-renowned pop star. Sure, in some weird parallel universe it could happen, but it wasn't an identity I would be assuming in the foreseeable future. So how do I grapple with this impending doom? In true Lauren Sauer fashion, I'm choosing to do so by not thinking about me, instead placing my attention on who I wish I was. I'm talking to you, college freshmen. God, I wish I was you.

Of course, I say that with some hindsight, because three years ago around this time, I was freaking out. I knew I was ready to go off to college, but boy was I scared. The night before I moved into my dorm room, I was breaking out in hives and imagining all of these hyperbolic "what if" scenarios that (surprise, surprise) have never happened. And had I known just one piece of advice around that time, I would've saved myself so much anxiety (and so much Benadryl). Here it is:

STOP ASSUMING.

Stop assuming you know exactly what you want out of your four years in college. Hell, stop assuming you'll get everything done in four years. You might change your major. You might fail a class. You might make the Dean's List and graduate Magna Cum Laude. But realistically, you'll probably take a few classes that feel like a waste, fail a few tests, find a professor or two who changes your life, and feel really accomplished at some point along the way.

Stop assuming frat parties will be the most fun you'll ever have. Stop assuming you're too good for frat parties. Spend at least one night wearing cheap Forever 21 clothing, get beer spilled on you, and order pizza with your friends when you get back to your dorm room. Spend the next night watching a movie and gossiping with the girls that live down the hall. If one feels more fulfilling than the other, that's totally fine. Just know either way, you'll eventually move into your own apartment and figure out what your perfect Friday night feels like. Don't freak out if it's not the same as everyone else's.

Stop assuming you'll be best friends with your freshman year roommate. Now, I feel like a huge hypocrite saying this, as my freshman year roommate is actually my best friend, but hang with me for a second. You're sharing a very small room with a stranger, so the best you can do is be cordial. If the very most you get out of your freshman year roommate is an acquaintance you can say 'hi' to on campus, consider yourself lucky. Sometimes that's the best you can do. But overall: stop fleshing out relationships with people you barely know and stop treating first impressions like they're the gospel. In college I've become infatuated with people I don't hang out with anymore, and I've become incredibly close with people I thought I had nothing in common with at first. If there's one thing you need to leave behind from high school, it's your weird misconceptions about popularity and cliques. No one cares if you were the head cheerleader or the school mascot; people care if you're compassionate and fun to be around.

Stop assuming you won't fit in. Stop assuming you'll be the talk of the town within your first week.
Stop assuming you'll gain the Freshman Fifteen. Stop assuming this is the year you get in the best shape of your life.
Stop assuming you'll meet your soulmate. Stop assuming you'll be forever alone.

Stop assuming, stop assuming, stop assuming.

But enough about what to stop doing, here's what to do:

Move in. Let your mom make your twin XL bed if she wants to. Leave your door open. Know that everyone is just as freaked out as you are. Stop assuming it'll end badly, because you're gonna do great. Trust me, I know: I'm a senior after all.

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