Embrace the mishaps of your journey

Monday, I began the final semester of my journey towards my college degree. I wish I could sit here and tell you it was everything I expected, but it was quite the opposite. My college experience was so much different than that of my peers.

I began my college career at Bowling Green State University. After much deliberation, I decided that I wanted to go there for pre-occupational therapy, with a major in psychology. I was excited to learn, grow and see who I would become.

Or so I thought.

As I began classes, I realized it was not for me. I liked school, but not enough to have to take 8 consecutive years of classes before I could find a full-time job. Time to go back to square one. I scoured the Internet trying to figure out what I was meant to do with my life. The one and only thing I knew I liked and was good at was writing. I contemplated becoming a writer or an English teacher, but neither seemed to spark my interest. Eventually, I decided on a journalism degree. I mean, who doesn’t like writing stories about people?

Along with switching my degree, I decided to switch schools as well. I absolutely hated Bowling Green. Nothing against the school itself, it just wasn’t for me. Paired with a horrendous case of mono that resulted my being rushed to the hospital and going home for a week to recover, the experience was less than great. So, I decided to transfer to Kent State University, because I knew they had an excellent journalism program.

In typical Julia fashion, I made sure I had everything in order so that I could have a smooth transition of schools from fall to spring semester. Everything was set up. I just had to wait until final grades were posted so my transcripts could be sent from Bowling Green to Kent State. Also in typical Julia fashion, everything fell through. An ice storm hit Bowling Green, the campus was completely shut down, and my transcripts did not get delivered to Kent State on time.

So away I went to community college. I spent my second semester of college taking general classes, and was all set to transfer to Kent State for the following fall semester. Finally, I can focus on school, enjoy what I do, and be back on track to graduate on time.

Or so I thought.

I loved Kent State. The people were great, the campus was beautiful, and the professors were extremely helpful. Granted, I did change my major for a third time, but my adviser was extremely helpful with that. The problems I faced in my time there did not involve my courses, professors, roommates, or surroundings. They involved me.

I did not live in a dorm at Kent; I lived in a house off-campus. I had to pay rent, so I clearly needed a job. After applying to what felt like hundreds of jobs in the surrounding area, I decided that my only option left was to go home on the weekends and work at Panera.

This is when things began to go south. After weeks of going back and forth, I began to experience quite a bit of anxiety. This anxiety became almost crippling, and I ended up deciding to move back home to take care of myself. Somehow (by the grace of God), during all of this the basement flooded in the house that I lived in, and since I lived in the basement with my friend, we were both let out of our leases. I was silently screaming with joy on the inside.

The following semester I continued to live at home, taking the 50 minute commute to Kent twice a week. It wasn’t awful, but it also wasn’t the best. Dedicating almost 4 hours a week to driving to and from class made my grades suffer, worsened my anxiety, and I was exhausted.

During winter break, I made the (extremely last second) decision to transfer from Kent State to Baldwin Wallace University. I was already signed up for classes at Kent State for the upcoming spring semester, but after learning that the majority of those classes wouldn’t transfer to BW, I decided to take classes at a community college. I started classes at Baldwin Wallace last fall, and I have loved every second of it.

I have enjoyed my time at BW more than any other school I have been to. During my turbulent college years, I definitely considered giving up. At one point, I told myself that I was just going to write a book and open a cupcake shop, so school was irrelevant. I was frustrated, confused, and felt like a failure.

The road to my degree has been full of twists and turns, bumps, cracks, detours, flat tires, and any other mishap you can think of. But here I am, wrapping up my college career only one semester behind my peers.

I know that a lot of people who decide to go to college feel an immense amount of pressure to find what you want to do from the beginning and stick with it, but that shouldn’t be the case. Whether it be the school or your major, never be afraid to make a change.

Every change you make may shut a door, but it opens so many more. I have been blessed with so many wonderful opportunities, many of which I would not have been able to have if 18-year-old me had stayed at Bowling Green. Every decision, every stumble, every complete wipeout has led me to where I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Making those changes may set you back for the time being, but you’ll eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t speak from experience to tell you what it’s like to finally break through that tunnel to the other side, but come December, I’ll let you know (fingers crossed).

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