Riverside sunset
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Leaves in the forest

When I first came to Dartmouth and watched my grandparents, who raised me my entire life, wheel away on the Dartmouth Coach to catch a flight taking them over 1,000 miles away, I didn't think too much about it. I was captivated by all the gorgeous buildings, the crisp New Hampshire sky, and my first New England sunset. Looking back, I don't know how I wasn't scared to death. I was completely on my own for the first time in my life. All the actions I would take from that moment forward had direct implications on my life and I guess I didn't realize that.

In hindsight, the transition was the easy part because it was filled with meeting new people, countless campus activities, and the like. The hardest part about transitioning to college were the few weeks after the "move-in adrenaline buzz" finally died down. For me, this involved figuring out what my routine was going to look like, how my week would play out, the jobs I would take up, and the extracurriculars I would dedicate myself to. Most of these aspects of my college life involved a lot of alone time. I would be eating at a table in the FOCO dining hall (filled with people) by myself, walking across campus with only the thoughts in my head, and studying with only my cup of coffee as company. After I realized this, I began to question if I had played my cards right, if I made a big enough effort to make friends. Did anyone want to hang out with me? Why did I feel alone?

One of my favorite meals at FOCO
Speaking of FOCO, here's a meal that truly makes me happy :)

These are rhetorical questions, of course. What I failed to ask myself, were questions like: Are you confident enough to be independent? Have you achieved self-love before putting yourself around others? Do you like who you are? Those are answerable questions I should have asked myself. I don't know what to make of the concept "fate," but I truly believe I found myself alone for a reason. I think I was meant to truly love myself and be comfortable with being independent before I began forming my trusted friend groups. And they came. I formed bonds with some amazing people, and they enjoyed me for who I am. It took me quite some time, but I think I homed in on my ability to love myself and appreciate the person I will turn out to be.

What I want to get across to you is this: Please don't think it's wrong to be by yourself for a while, especially in your first weeks in college. In fact, I would say that if you don't spend some time alone and introspect, you are not taking advantage of being able to truly figure out what your interests are and what makes you happy. Once I figured out that I would prioritize my happiness in life and the happiness of those closest to me, is when I started my journey of true mental health here at Dartmouth. My story is not meant to be yours, but in whatever manner it happens, know it's for a reason.

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