I remember turning in my withdrawal paperwork like it was yesterday. While everyone else at my school was gearing up for the new semester I was packing up my dorm room to go back home. I had just flown in the night before and had no idea that this was how I would be spending the first day of the semester. I was hesitant and unsure, but I felt more alive than I had for months. I wasn’t sure that I was making the right decision, but at least I was making one.
It was freshman year of college. You know, that year you’ve been building up expectations about since middle school. I was moving down the coast to southern California so visions of surfers and sandy beaches danced in my head. I dreamed of all the parties I was going to go to, all the friends I would make, and how much freedom I would have living away from home.
The day I packed up my car and left for California to what I thought was my dream school.
Setting up my dorm room.
I followed my freshman orientation schedule diligently, making sure to hit up every event and introduce myself to every person I came into contact with for the entire week. I was making dinner plans, making friends in classes, joining clubs, and finding volunteer positions. I was making plans on the weekend and exploring hiking trails, going to the beach, driving to LA. In other words, I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing.
My school was 20 minutes from Malibu which meant I basically lived at the beach.
But I was miserable.
I would wake up with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I was surrounded by people I felt like I didn’t connect with. My campus was small and in the middle of a ritzy suburb where everything closed by 6. I got out when I could but whenever I went back to my dorm room it was like I could feel the four walls closing in on me. The only time I felt truly myself, was when I wasn’t at school. I gotta give it to California for having plenty of things to distract you with, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that where I was, wasn’t where I was meant to be.
Still, I stuck it out. I pretended everything was alright and kept on doing my thing waiting for the moment that everything would get better.
But it didn’t. I rolled into second semester with all the same feeling as I had before, but they were even stronger. I did not want to be there, even if I didn’t want to accept it. On the morning of the first day of second semester, I called the registrar’s office to withdraw. I was out of there.
Of course this wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I woke up and walked to a park to dramatically think about life beside a dried up river bed. I called my mom. I called my sister. I called pretty much all of my friends. I cried into the arms of my roommates. I got angry. I second guessed myself. But I still did it.
I spent the entire day filling out the paper work to withdraw from school. It turned out that I only had 24 hours to get my full tuition payment back so I ran around like a mad woman to all of the different offices to close all my student accounts. I told my RA, I emailed my advisor, I mailed back all my textbooks. It was over. And I haven’t looked back since.
Making big decision is hard, but there is a technique involved. This is how I mastered the art of doing the damn thing.
Don’t Fear Others’ Judgements:
They are not the ones paying the bills, buying your groceries, or looking at you from the other side of the mirror. The only person that lives with your decision is you. Give it a couple weeks and everyone will long have forgotten about whatever it was that you did.
You can drive yourself crazy overthinking every little thing that could possible go wrong. Will I find a new job? Will I be able to go back to school? How will I tell everyone? You will figure it out because you need to. You will make it work and honestly you will thank yourself later for pulling the trigger and just doing the damn thing.
Be Honest With Yourself:
I was so busy trying to convince everyone that everything was fine, that I started to believe it myself. It was only three days before the new semester that I seriously started considering leaving. It was the second I stepped on campus that I knew I had to do something. But even then I was still trying to convince myself that it would get better. That something would change and that all would be hunky dory and we could all pretend like nothing was ever wrong. I started feeling off about the whole college thing only a few weeks into it, but instead of trusting my intuition I convinced myself to stay anyway. It’s important to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling instead of bottling it up and hoping it will go away.
Second Guessing Yourself is Normal:
I remember waking up in the morning and thinking I was still in California. I missed my friends, I missed the weather and I missed living in a place where there was so much to do. There were many times where I panicked and thought that I had made the absolute wrong decision for myself, even months after I had made the move. But as time went on, those thoughts got pushed to the back of my brain as I starting making my life what I wanted it to be, instead of focusing on what it could have been.
Life opened up for me as soon as I left school. I started working, started exploring more, found a new college that fit my needs and was happier than I ever was before. Making a decision is hard, but what is even harder is sitting by as your life is going in a direction that you don’t want it to.