Proud2Bme | Worry Less, Enjoy More: The Freshman Year Survival Guide

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Worry Less, Enjoy More: The Freshman Year Survival Guide

Starting college is rough on everyone, especially when you’re coping with an eating disorder or body image issues. But your first semester doesn’t have to be so stressful, even though you’ll definitely miss not paying for laundry! A few Proud2Bme bloggers offered their best pieces of advice for staying body positive, making friends, and coping with triggers. Armed with these helpful tips, you’ll be ready to conquer campus!

Remind Yourself That All Freshmen Are Fresh

By Bailey Anderson--When faced with a new group of people, I inevitably begin to compare myself to them. I’m the biggest one in this room. Maybe I should have dressed up more, like her. He sounds so much smarter than I do. These are just some of thoughts that tend to perpetuate my anxiety and fear.

My advice: If you find yourself feeling uneasy in a new group of people, remind yourself of the one thing you are certain to have in common—you are all beginning something new—which triggers some level of discomfort for everyone.

I was able to overcome my fear of beginning law school when someone reminded me that every other person in the room felt the same way I did—nervous and uncertain of what was to come. Instead of focusing on the differences between you and your peers, focus on what you have in common—this will make an unfamiliar place feel less like a battleground, and more like a community.

The necessary extension to this advice is that you must also remember that everyone copes differently. Just because someone appears confident and collected, it does not mean that they are. It is very likely that those who are over-confident—or even arrogant—are just acting that way because it helps them adjust to an uncomfortable situation. So don’t let others intimidate you, or make you feel less prepared for the situation that you are in—because you are no less “freshman” than anyone else in the room.

Leave the Cliques Behind

By Kristina Combs--The transition from high school to college can be a big change, and balancing out your school and personal life can be challenging. In high school, many of us constantly compared ourselves to the “popular” crowd.  In many teen movies, this group is usually depicted as what society has deemed as “perfect”—athletic, thin, blonde, wealthy—the list goes on and on. My advice for college freshmen is to leave this subgroup behind you.

There is no such thing as a popular group in college; you most likely won’t know every person in your class or even remember them next semester. College is not about a popularity contest, very much like what high school can be. Ultimately, you are all there for the same reason: to further your education and get a college degree. It may be tempting to compare yourself to someone you saw walking across campus, but it’s important to remember that you fit in just the way that you are. You contribute as much as the person sitting next to you in class does.

College students come from many different walks of life. You’ll find yourself making college friends with diverse individuals who you’d never meet otherwise, and your college experience would be so boring if everyone looked the same.

Pursue Your Passion

By Annie Stewart--College is such a wonderful time in a person’s life, so first of all, congratulate yourself on making this bold step into the beautiful (and scary, I know!) unknown. Take this opportunity to get to know yourself. The advice that stuck with me throughout college the most is this: “Pursue that which makes your soul sing.”  Along with that, make sure to surrounded yourself with people who only lift you up and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. Be patient, if you don’t find this person (or persons) right away as it takes time to develop deep, close friendships.

The friends I made in college are still some of my closest friends but these friendships did not form overnight. Also, in the midst of studying for exams and writing papers, it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Keep a thankfulness journal or write inspirational notes on your mirror.  One of my greatest pieces of advice I can give—whether one is starting high or school or college—resist the urge to find your sense of security in your achievements. YOU are not your grades, you are not your GPA, you are not the number of goals scored or games won. You are a beautiful human being, with many gifts to offer the world. Your family, your friends, your school, your community would be a dark place without you. So find out what makes you feel the most fully alive, what makes your soul sing, and pursue that with all your heart.

Worry Less, Enjoy More

By Chinh Tran--I’ve graduated college already, but I remember starting freshman year and having angst around the “Freshman 15”. After finishing my first quarter of college, I was eager to enjoy my winter break hanging out with friends and family. My friends made comments about my weight and my mom told me to “stop eating so much.” Needless to say, I felt hurt and shocked when my support system focused so much on my physical appearance. After all, I still felt like the same person on the inside.

For anyone starting a new school or college, I hope you remain positive and ignore any negativity or bullying that might come your way. I spent a lot of my freshman year being concerned about my weight and worried about what others would think of me, but regret the wasted effort. College is an extremely exciting time with so many new people to meet and adventures to embark on, so please try to make the most of it. After I learned to feel more comfortable with my body, I was freed from all the small details and worries and had more time to enjoy my college experience!

Build Up Your Coping Skills

By Claire Trainor--Starting college can be difficult for those struggling with body image—between conversations about the Freshman 15, nutrition facts posted in the dining hall, and the of meeting new people, staying positive can be hard. I experienced all those struggles my freshman year of college. But I also learned a few ways to cope:

Realize that your body has unique needs 

I have a habit of comparing my plates to those around me. Most of the time, I’m eating more. For months, I thought that meant I should cut back. But the truth is, for whatever reason, I just need extra food. Other people need less. And that’s okay: we’re all eating what’s right for us. 

Recognize what makes your body image worse

For me, that was midterms and finals. It’s different for everyone. When your body image gets really rough, take the time to think about what’s going on in your life that may be contributing. You don’t necessarily have to change it (it may be out of your control), but realizing what the triggers are so you can prepare for when they come up is really helpful.

Walk it out

I’m not recommending heavy workouts or long runs—heavy exercise can be a slippery slope for those struggling with body image or eating disorders. But taking a (slow) walk helps me realize just how incredible my body is. The blood flow and fresh air also helps me to feel better about being in my skin.

Give Yourself a Break (We Mean It!)

By Sarah Spencer--It will come as a relief to most of you that college is very little like high school. It’s terrifyingly overwhelming at times, but, armed with an agenda and a dash of self-confidence, everything from finicky roommates to your first failed exam can be overcome.

Having gone through the process myself of adapting to what feels like a whole new society, there are a few things to keep in mind. Mainly, don’t feel like you have to do everything. You were in high school to get into college and now you’re in college to get a job, so a bunch of clubs on your resume isn’t going to be quite as useful any longer.

That being said, college is when you get to find out what to you want to do (and also who you are, but that’s another article), so take advantage of opportunities that look enticing, especially internships, even if they’re not quite in the field you’re looking for.

Finally, give yourself a break. Don’t underestimate what a huge transition this is, both in regards to your newfound levels of independence and also to your changing role in your family as you cease being a child who’s just told what to do. You’ve got four years, and sometimes longer. Take a month, or even a semester, to get your bearings while taking care of yourself along the way.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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