freshman year reflection

I’m reading this back a year later and remembering exactly how I felt, but also knowing that so, so much growth has come from this time. I can see now that while all of my struggles and feelings from that year were completely valid, the world is so much bigger than my own little bubble in Athens, and my purpose here is so much greater than what I imagined could be. It feels SO trivial and privileged now to be complaining about Instagram posts and Greek letters when issues like COVID and racism and child trafficking exist. But as college freshman are getting ready to move in, even with all of these other more pressing issues, college is still the same in that they’re leaving everything they’re ever known for something so strange and unfamiliar. I feel lucky to have gone through the struggles I did externally and internally so that I could possibly help another college freshman feel seen and heard.

This is it!!!! The post you have all (hopefully) been waiting for!!!! This is my reflection on my freshman year of college.

I truly don’t know where to start with this. I’ve been staring at this computer screen hoping the words will just flow out of me, and I’ve been just thinking about writing this for even longer. I don’t think I can express how I feel about these past 8 months as well as I would like to, and I honestly am not completely sure how I feel about freshman year. While it feels like I moved in a week ago, and I sometimes forget that I’m in college, August feels like decades ago.

There isn’t one word or emotion that can explain this year. There were moments that were thrilling, heart-breaking, embarrassing, joyful, challenging, frustrating, beautiful, chaotic, defeating, peaceful, ugly, and everything in between, but I think the word I’m looking for is life-changing. Not only life-changing in the way that I moved away from my home of 18 years, said goodbye to my parents, and lived in a shoebox for 8 months, but I have grown more since August of 2018 than I have in all 18 years leading up to that. The girl I am now is miles away from the girl I was in August. She’s in another WORLD compared to the August version of herself.

First semester was really rough for me. I dropped out of sorority recruitment, joined a sorority a month later through COB, made friends, lost friends, considered transferring schools daily, and I honestly thought the whole “best 4 years of your life” thing that EVERYONE had told be about was a scam. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but I really truly hated college. I was heartbroken that college was nowhere near what I expected and what people had told me to expect. Second semester changed my mind a little bit. I started to find friends and people who stood in my corner despite my imperfections, spent a week on a mission trip in Jamaica, and I even let the words “home” and “Athens” accidentally slip out in the same sentence once or twice.

As I sit in my living room after moving back home to Marietta, I feel unfinished. I feel like my year was incomplete and nothing happened how I expected it. I don’t really feel at peace about the year ending, and it definitely does not feel like reality.

I’ll say it. Freshman year of college was not the best year of my life!!!!

My Instagram feed is flooded with friends posting about how they don’t want freshman year to end, they don’t want to leave all 600 of their best friends, and how this was the best year ever, so much better than they could have imagined. I’ll be honest, it’s really frustrating to see everyone talking about how they’re thriving when I’m feeling pretty mediocre and isolated. I find myself counting my worth in the number of “goodbye freshman year” posts I’m tagged in and how many comments I got on my post. This comparison breaks me. It makes me sad, it makes me regret, and it makes me wonder what I could have done to have the best year of my life, too. Why was my freshman year the hardest year of my life when everyone else seems to have thrived.

I could spend hours talking about the things God has taught me, but I think the two biggest lessons I’ve learned are these:

  1. God makes everything perfect in His own time. Patience is a virtue that I am lacking, and I had to begin to learn to be patient and trust that He will provide me with incredible friends, opportunities to get involved, and He will open the right doors at the right time. It may not be right now like I want, but He is teaching me so many lessons through this that I desperately need to learn. People will promise you that freshman year is the best ever, but God never promises that to us. He promises that He will bring us through our personal deserts into His abundant joy. Freshman year was my desert, and I found joy in it, and I know more joy will come even if it doesn’t look like I originally expected. I don’t like to wait, but Jesus is in the waiting, and I sure found Him there.
  2. My value is in Him & Him alone. My worth is not in my sorority letters, my GPA, my involvement, how many friends I have, the Bible verse in my Instagram bio, or anything worldly. I have talked to a surprising number of people who seem to have it all together and they still feel lost which just proves to me that Jesus is truly all you need. The value that He gives us can never be diminished by worldly values, and that’s hard to truly believe, but once you do, it is truly freeing.

I have made incredible friends, met the most amazing people, I’ve done better than expected in my classes, I’ve gotten involved in things that I love, I’ve made memories that I hope I’ll never forget. I’ve yelled GO DAWGS at the top of my lungs and meant it with all my heart. But I’ve also felt like I have nobody in my corner besides my mom and Jesus, I’ve definitely walked out of tests and handed in mediocre projects feeling like I’d be lucky to get a 50, I’ve been rejected from leadership positions and skipped club meetings because I was too lazy to go, and I’ve spent many a night sitting in my dorm room alone.

If freshman year was the best year of your life, I am so so happy for you. If you immediately found your people, if you got a bid to your favorite sorority, if you got a 4.0 GPA, if you had the best year of your life, I am so genuinely happy for you. But this post is not for you. This post is for me and everyone else whose freshman year did not live up to the expectations. This is for the people who didn’t find their “bridesmaids” (lol), who called home crying because they thought they could never find their place in college, who counted down the seconds to the day they move out and go home at the end of the year, and who posted on Instagram about the best year of their life wishing desperately that it was true.

I wish I could go back to the beginning of this year and tell myself what I know now about who I am now and how I got here. I wish I could tell myself to not make the mistakes I did. I wish I could have had the best year of my life, but I don’t know if I would have grown as much as I have and as much as I desperately needed to. However, nothing can change the past, and I am happy with how I have learned from it. This year had the highest highs & lowest lows, and I can only hope that the mountains grow taller and the valleys start to shrink.

I am beyond excited to get back in August and for the next 3 years to come. There are a million boxes on a mental list of “things you’re supposed to do in college to have the best 4 years of your life”. Most importantly, I want to seek Jesus more every day. If no other box on this list get checked, I want to seek Jesus. I want to become the most Christ-like version of myself possible.

With all of that being said, here’s to a summer filled with growth, peace, and preparation. Here’s to the next 3 years and here’s to hoping that they’re the best 3 years of my life, but I know that I’ll be 100% okay if they aren’t. After all, not everyone can peak in college and I’d rather know that the best years of my life can still happen past the age of 22. Here’s to freshman year and all the lessons I learned and the joy that will come out of it. Nobody ever said that difficult things and unexpected things can’t be good things, so I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, freshman year can be the hardest and most unexpected and one of the best years of my life at the same time.

Posting this on the Internet for potentially anyone to see and judge is quite literally terrifying. This post is a lil emotional and really vulnerable, and I wouldn’t believe back in August that I’m posting this now. If you liked this, please let me know so I know this isn’t just me throwing a pity party for myself lol. If you stuck around to the end of this, thank you. I’m hoping it’s a long one but a good one. (This is 1538 words right now which is longer than all of the English papers I turned in this semester)!!!

I hope you have the best day!!!! ❤

Love, ~E.


25 thoughts on “freshman year reflection

  1. Hey there Elizabeth, how you doing!? I just went through your blog and its totally fab, keep up this effort love and have a nice day! ❤
    Looking forward to reading from your blog more 🙂
    You have a new follower 😉


  2. Oh my word, what precious words. Thank you for sharing! I’m sending this to my daughter and many other high school senior girls who could benefit.


  3. This is wonderful and best of all, honest!! You have to wonder if what you see on Social Media is true…likely not 100% true. I try not to pay to much attention.
    You made it through a year full of changes and succeeded at it so I would call that a major WIN. Congrats to you!! Keep sharing so we can keep things real.


  4. Thank you for opening up and sharing your experience. I am so excited to see how your next years go.


  5. I read it to the end. Loved your honesty. You have a lucky mom (coming from a soon to be freshman mom) Hope you have a great summer and a much better 2nd year. 🙂


  6. You go girl! Love reading your posts and seeing you mature into a more remarkable young lady than you already were.


  7. I love every brave, vulnerable, authentic word you’ve shared about your Freshman year! Because you are real and open you have not only opened up your own heart, you’ve given others permission to do the same. Keep writing, keep sharing, keep being YOU! Keep being Jesus’s light. You are a world changer and God is using you in mighty ways!
    I’m Tini’s Mom. Tini is one of the 4 UGA girls that went to be with Jesus on April 27, 2016. Tini was in AXO. Tini is a worship leader, singer, songwriter, writer and guitar player. You can read her blog here and listen to her original song, Be Still. Be blessed


    1. Wow – Thank you so much!! I just read Tini’s blog & listened to her song – such incredible words that brought tears to my eyes. I know that her light is still shining so brightly!!


  8. This.

    I can’t express how grateful I am for your honesty as Riley heads off to UGA in August. Her college selection has been less than perfect and we just had discussions surrounding a lot of these topics. I can’t wait for her to read. Thank you so much for your bravery and sharing your vulnerabilities.

    Two things…
    1. IG is just a highlight reel. Those “best year ever” people had more than their fair share of valleys.
    2. Laura Shutt is one of my heroes as well. ❤


    1. Thank you!! I wish Riley all the best in her freshman year, & if she ever needs a familiar face, I am always there!! I can have my mom send you my number if you want 🙂


  9. Elizabeth, I know it must be hard sometimes to bare your soul to us, but fear not, because whether we admit it or not, we all go through highs and lows in life. I’m glad your mom was always there for you, and always will be – and God! I really barely know you – you don’t know how sorry I am about that – but your life letters you have published gave me joy and some insight into a fine young woman with so much more faith and strength than most of us. I wish nothing but the best for you in the future.


  10. Oh my gosh, u made me cry at the end with your sweet words to your mom. You are a beautiful person with an amazing heart and spirit, just like you mom. 💕 With the best laugh I have ever heard. And we both know, that nobody puts on Instagram how their life sucks at that moment. Proud of you for forging your path and sharing your heart. What a gift you are to those who know you. ❤️


  11. Elizabeth, what a beautiful post! Beautiful because you were honest and raw with the challenges you faced. Beautiful because you were able to reflect on this past year with open eyes. And beautiful because in a world where kids your age post about how great their life is, you posted about your reality. Enjoy your summer!!


  12. Elizabeth, your words are so true and wise beyond your years. I am so proud to see the woman that God is using everyday to influence those around her. Yes, there will be ups and downs—give thanks in all things. You are one amazing young lady.


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