Finally, after months upon months of non-stop work, freshman year of college is finally over. And yes, I have a heck of a lot of beans to spill.
In the last open letter from yours truly, I mentioned wanting college to be my fresh start. I wanted to meet new people, do new things, and be exposed to so many new experiences I would’ve never imagined myself going through. To say that I haven’t tried to retain that mindset would be a huge lie on my part. But once again, the key word is try.
Fall Semester is the Fall of Everything
I’d be lying if I said my first semester in college wasn’t a wreck. Scratch that, it was worse than that. Fall semester, in a nutshell, was as if I was thrown into the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the night in December, without a life jacket. Why the dramatic comparison? Well, for starters, I thought I knew what college would be like. I went into college knowing that my path would be different–after all, I am in a program that requires me to finish my Bachelor’s degree and Medical degree in a total of 6 years combined, as compared to the 8 years most students go through. I knew I’d be taking the maximum amount of hours per semester in order to complete the plan. I knew I wouldn’t have lots of room to spend time with friends, let alone join organizations to make new ones. I knew it’d be stressful and I though I could handle it, considering how rigorous high school was for me. I knew I’d miss my old high school friends almost every minute. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I had absolutely no idea what the magnitude of all of it would be like.
Fall of 2014 was pretty much the absolute worst semester of my educational career. Though I was forced to retake many classes I’ve already received credit for, I struggled, more than anything, with my mental health. I battled countless anxiety attacks, overwhelming slumps of depression, weekly mental breakdowns, lots of crying session in my car, and although my GPA probably does not reflect it, terrible, terrible academic strifes. It got so bad that I almost went to my school’s counseling center because I couldn’t take it anymore. Even though it’s been months since then, I still can’t even open up and talk about my condition last semester because it still makes me cry just thinking about it. Fall was an absolute, terrible, no good time to be Ameera Khan.
Spring Cleaning of the Soul
As soon as the Fall semester was over, all the things in life that were stressing me to the bone diminished into thin air. I’m not sure if it was the mini vacation to India over the of two weeks that helped clear my mind, but something magical happened during that month because I came back into the Spring semester feeling like I was gifted a fresh, brand new start. I started engaging more in my opportunities, and finally found things to be even remotely passionate about. I learned to not think too much into things, and just go with the flow. I learned that I needed to stop comparing myself to others. I decided to take a YOLO moment and decided I wanted to be a Pre-Med Biology and English major, hoping to finish college in the next 2 years. More than anything, I finally reached some peace of mind in the battle field of my brain. My inner demons have been contained (for the most part), and though I ended up taking more classes this semester than last semester, I’m doing okay. Simply, irrevocably, okay.
Looking Into the Future
It seems almost impossible to reach all my academic goals at this rate, and why lie, I say this so myself at least once a day. Whenever I’m stuck in the library reading through the text for my Survey to Literary Theory class, I can’t help but wallow in self pity and ask “Why am I even doing this? Do I really like English that much to want to write essays all the time? Am I really doing this for me, or just for kicks? Will this even help me at all?” The answer to all of that remains a mystery, even to this second. Sometimes, I’ll want to drop out of my BS/MD program and take the traditional route to med school. I’ll want to switch my majors to International Relations (if my university even offered it) and Psychology, with a minor in History. I’ll want to study abroad or intern at the UN for a semester, even if that means having to delay my graduation for a semester or two. Sometimes, I’ll be anywhere but where I am now.
But then, I look around me and soak in the dedication and perseverance I’m surrounded by. I grow in awe of the DREAMers, one of whom is my best friend, who are really and truly taking in every aspect of education they can receive. I grow in awe of the countless opportunities I’m able to do in terms of research and student leadership. I grow in awe of the fact that my parents aren’t faced with a huge financial burden, meaning there’s enough money for my little brother to go to college too. More than anything, I grow in awe over the fact that I’m even in college, receiving a once in a life time opportunity to find myself.
What I’ve learned from my first year of college is that college is a weird, weird time. As cliche and cookie cutter as I sound, it’s true. There are a lot of ups that make me feel like I’m on cloud 9…and then, I have my downs. And man, when I hit rock bottom, I really really really hit rock bottom. I crash and burn and feel like I won’t make it through those next 10 minutes. But lo and behold, I somehow manage to make it. That’s what college is all about. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I’ll always be ready to dust off the dirt from my knees and move on to the next big thing. In fact, I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% to conquer anything. But what matters more than anything is that I try.
I can’t tell you that college is piece of cake, and I definitely can’t tell you college is the most difficult experience I’ve ever gone through. My college experience so far is completely indescribable, but I’m living it, and the only thing I can really do is embrace it.