Take a Breath and Ask for Help: My Reflection on Freshman Year

3 min read As I approach the end of my time here at Radford University, I am in a reflective mood of my Freshman year at Radford University.

Hand coming out of water

Photo Credit: (Nikko Macaspac) Cause they’ve been swimming in the wrong waters. Now they’re pulling me down.

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By Michael Aaron Coopersmith | mcoopersmith@radford.edu 

As I approach the end of my time here at Radford University, it puts me in quite a reflective mood. Now that I begin to transition out of college and into what many older adults would describe as the “real world,” I struggle to avoid memories of my freshman self when I first stepped onto the grounds of Radford University.

Experiences may differ quite extensively during this crisis; still, I bring myself to share pieces of advice that seem to be quite relevant for many freshmen.

You will get punched in the gut, whether during the first semester or when everything is turned upside down the second semester. This fact is a part of life, and if you’re in the slim majority that says, “Well, I say, that didn’t have that same experience at all,” then I retort:

I was holding onto everything by a thread that was slowly slipping through my grip.

“Cool,” but this advice goes out to those that did take this metaphorical gut punch. The latter half of my freshman year was the aftermath of hence “gut punch.” It felt as if I was in the aftermath of all my problems hitting me at once.

My grades began to tank, I became terribly distracted in my classes, my roommate started to become an annoyance, and I began to enter an unhealthy lifestyle. I was holding onto everything by a thread that was slowly slipping through my grip.

Yet, here I am, about to finish my senior year. So, the best piece of advice I can relay to you: When you are knocked down by everything, the best thing that you can do is take a breath. You may believe that everything is on fire, yet you still can put it out.

Neon sign in leaves
Photo Credit: (Fabian Møller) When you are knocked down by everything, the best thing that you can do is take a breath.

Also, take an inventory of the things that are currently out of balance and write it down to serve as a visual reminder of what you need to get done.

As well, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your professors and peers. People are full of advice and solutions. They can offer another perspective that could be quite enlightening. However, people are not going to solve your problems for you. You are left to your own devices at the end of the day.

You may believe that everything is on fire, yet you still can put it out.

A stable home or dorm life can be essential to getting yourself back on your feet. If a roommate is starting to irritate you, a few options are at your disposal. You can try to create a dialogue with them; communication is a significant part of living with someone. If that doesn’t work, visiting residential life and using their resources for roommate resolution is available.

I can say a couple of things for sure, however. One, you can get back up. Two, even though life is filled with adversity, one can overcome through incremental change.