Growing Pains: Chapter 2-Girl Meets World

Although I did not cry at graduation, I cried a lot when I finally arrived at the place that would shape the next four years of my life. The first wave of tears came when my mom and sister bid me farewell, the floodgates opening soon after the last box of my clothes arrived safely in my room. All the ones that escaped my tear ducts afterward would bloom from seeds of insecurity and uncertainty. I finally had what felt like the world at my fingertips. But what to do with it? I will admit after seeing my roommate, who I had barely uttered a word to, take off the next morning while I was still glued to my stuffed animal-adorned bed, I was consumed by envy of her confidence and independence, and startled by the apparent lack of my own. I had already felt as though I was the turtle in the race of socialization. I was so focused on making it to university, that now that I was here, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. The friends I had back home all had each other, as they went to the state school more than half our high school class would be attending. I refused to let wallowing in my self-pity become an option though, and so I found myself gearing up for the day, not knowing where I was headed, but letting my footsteps lead me out the door anyway.

My first-day exploring campus.

Instead of heading to the bookstore or the library when I stepped out into the salty, brisk wind of New York autumn, I forced myself over to a dining hall where I would meet my first round of prospective friends. In retrospect who could blame me? Since I could remember, American media had been spoon-feeding me tales of wild parties, new romantic partners every week, and substances I could barely wrap my tongue around pronouncing. My university itself was selling the slogan, ‘This is the best four years of your life!’ (I definitely haven’t heard that before) to students, reminding us at every turn that we’d never know if our soulmate would be lurking at the fifth free pizza event of the week. Despite having been proven wrong about this four-year bonanza before, I ashamedly fell for it again. I fell into step with the often-time robotic script of asking everyone I crossed paths with, “What’s your name? Where are you from? What’s your major?” I was maybe a little too optimistic, and too convinced that I would in fact meet my future spouse at the speed dating event at the dorm a twenty-minute walk from me. I collected Instagram usernames for sport, and I still have numbers on my phone that have never been contacted, and whose names I no longer recognize. It felt as though if I did not make friends that week, the window for all the relationships that awaited me for the next four years would close its doors and remain shut for the rest of my college career. Overdramatic yes, but it was the gospel I preached and practiced. Birds of a feather flock together, and if you had not found people to latch on to during that first week, you could kiss your social life goodbye. At the end of it all, I emerged victorious in my endeavor and had multiple individuals I felt I could call friends, despite knowing them for a measly couple of days. I would soon discover that although I survived the battle, there was a greater war to come.

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By Tiana Gregg

Tiana is a rising junior at NYU majoring in English and minoring in Art History. She spends her days reading, writing, listening to music, and indulging in just about every hobby (except sports!) you can think of to fill her time. You will never find her idling.

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