Graduating from high school means something different to everyone. For some, a door is opening to a greater and grander part of their lives. For others, a door is closing, and moving forward can be a struggle.
Freshman year is always given more attention than the other years spent at college, and for good reason. Students are thrust from the land of familiarity and into a world full of confusion, new responsibilities, and boundless opportunities. If an individual gets lost freshman year, they could be lost for good. However, if an individual finds solid ground to stand on, they could build the foundations of a great future.
This is not to say that what a person does their freshman year determines the rest of their life. In fact, a person can move on entirely from their freshman year, but only if they choose to.
Take Steve Rogers as an example. Viewers and readers of ‘Captain America’ can take Steve’s run with the Army during WWI as his freshman year. He’s the big man on campus, with the brains, brawn, and charisma to inspire soldiers to follow him anywhere. Overall, Steve’s freshman year is a pretty brilliant.
Then, he crashes. Captain America wakes up in his sophomore year of life with no idea what he’s doing. He is thrust into an environment that he doesn’t know how to handle, because his skill set still applies to his freshman year.
This is the fallacy that comes with putting so much pressure on the freshman year of college. Students can sometimes be so prepared for the year that, once it’s over, they aren’t entirely certain where to go.
That’s alright, though.
Once Steve Rogers takes in his situation, he finds his place with an organization that had been in his life before. He takes time to regain his footing, adjusting slowly to a world that has changed dramatically around him and that is tailored to people who understand it intimately.
Sophomore year and beyond are an adjustment from freshman year. No longer are students wide-eyed and curious, nor are they tailored to. It’s necessary for us to find our footing in this new world in order to build upward and towards a greater future.
The question is, though: How do we find where we should stand?
Steve had SHIELD; so do we have organizations that we can go to. Pursue a job that struck your interest in your freshman year. Put in an application at that coffee shop you always went to. Email that professor whose jokes made you laugh and ask if he knows of any work you can do.
Make sure your skills are relevant to what you want to do, though. Don't get a job making sushi if the stuff makes you sick.
If you’re not looking for a job, think about some of the things that caught your interest last year, some events that you regret not making it to. Is there a performance coming up this year that you want to make? Is there something you’re interested in, but don’t know if IU has an organization that centers around it?
Look into it. Check out the IU websites and blogs. See what people are doing and what strikes your interest. Keep an eye out for internships or open positions that seem exciting.
One thing you should avoid doing, though: Don’t let your memories of freshman year keep you stuck in one place. There are records of your year, kept on your Facebook and Twitter. There were records of life while Steve was asleep. There’s no harm in looking at those records, but they don’t tell you anything about the present. Keep your head up and look forward.
Steve Rogers—Captain America—is a nearly perfect man, but he, too, can struggle. In one way, Steve is the man we should all aspire to be. In another, Steve is the man we already are.
Keep looking forward and find a place to get your footing. From there, all you can do is grow.