Don't Worry, It's Going to Be More Than Okay
Sometimes in life we fear the things that will change our lives for the better.
I received my acceptance to St. Lawrence on a chilly day in March of 2019. It was a day like any other—a long eight periods of school followed by the simple routine of opening up the mailbox. Only on this day, a big package sat inside with my name on it, the word Laurentian perfectly placed throughout. I knew this word, I had grown up with it, and for years I had imagined that maybe one day it would refer to me. I was raised hearing stories from my mother, ‘87, about living in Carnegie her freshman year, seeing the Clash perform, and my personal favorite, breaking open the cans of pudding in the KKG house with wooden spoons. I believe that even if I didn't already have a connection to St. Lawrence, it would still give me a consuming feeling that I could flourish there. Later that week, I deposited a check and officially became a member of St. Lawrence University’s Class of 2023.
In the weeks leading up to Orientation, I was so hopeful to start this new journey in my life that it began to worry me. I read articles about interacting with a roommate for the first time and scrolled through Instagram and Facebook casually yet somehow intensely, seeing that my classmates were already interacting with each other. Every little thing got to me—what if everyone already knew each other? What if I didn’t end up liking it? What if I grew to despise the place I already had so many memories attached to? While I can’t help laughing at the feeling now, I understand where I was coming from. Social media is a dangerous game and I had let myself fall victim to it. I continually tried pushing these feelings to the back of my brain and it worked all the way up to move-in day.
I remember the way I felt as we pulled up in front of Gaines Hall. I was in love with the stature of the small building. I’m not sure if it was the doric columns on the entrance or the high ceiling triple I would be living in for the next year, but it felt comfortable to me—like maybe it would feel like home. Standing in my new room for the first time by myself, I began to cry harder than I ever had before. I was scared, scared because I didn’t think it was possible to have a home away from friends and family who made my life so incredible in the first place. As I moved my tears onto the grass outside, I remember telling my parents that I didn’t think I could do it. That I didn’t want to be so far away from everyone I loved so dearly. And as I hugged them a final goodbye, wiping my tears onto my tie-dye Grateful Dead t-shirt, I rejoined the group of people that would soon become my new family.
“Hey, are you okay?” A girl with brown hair asked me, sunglasses resting gently on her nose.
“Yeah, thanks for asking,” I responded, sniffling through my words.
This was a moment and a person I will never forget. So simple that to the untrained eye you would think she was just introducing herself to me, but we both knew it was so much more than that. Her kindness brought me out of my sadness and led me back towards that hopeful person I was opening up my acceptance letter back in March.
In the weeks and months following, I became enamored with St. Lawrence and the wonderful people that come with it. I met my best friends, who taught me to love myself for who I truly am and to not let people tell me otherwise. I rediscovered the passion I have for music and performing, standing on a stage for the pure purpose of being heard. I fell in love with religiously going to the Java Barn every Thursday, dancing and singing until the lights came on and I had to trudge home through the snow. I became a better version of myself.
So, this is my advice for you, the Class of 2024 and anyone else who may follow—it’s okay to be scared of this new chapter in your life. It’s okay to not feel at ease right away, to miss home and the people that define it. But after you’ve wiped those tears away, don’t be afraid to be yourself and open up to people. Join as many clubs as your heart desires, talk to people you’ve never met about things you’ve never told, learn to love yourself for who you are because once you do that you’ll be able to experience everything this little corner of the North Country has to offer. And in times of stress or worry, just remember that everything is going to be okay... it’s going to be more than okay.