January 26th, 2016
Today is a big day. For most, it is just January 26th, 2016. For others, it is simply the second day of classes for the 2016 Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. For me, it is the one-year anniversary of the 2nd most nerve-wracking day of my life. One year ago, it was my first day of classes at a brand new college.
Now, I should explain why it was the 2nd most nerve-wracking day of my life. The 1st most nerve-wracking day was the day I left my sweet, little hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota to move to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. So how did I end up in Wisconsin after moving to the glorious country music capital? Well, it took teary-eyed phone calls to my mom, a different perspective on the concept of changing, and more bravery than I ever thought I possessed.
When you graduate from high school, move to new state, and leave the life you’ve always known for college, you expect things to change. I, however, did not want to change. I had found my best friends and developed a reputation for myself in high school that I was proud of, and I didn’t want to lose that version of “Elle” I had worked so hard to find. However, when I got to Nashville, I was bombarded with change – some good, and some not so good. There was new weather, new accents, new clothing styles, new drama… The list was never-ending. It was overwhelming and terrifying, but I continued to resist the possibility of change, for I wanted everything to stay exactly how it had been for the past 18 years of my life.
I liked to think of my resistance as a brick wall that I kept trying to build up higher, but there was a new obstacle that found a way to destruct parts of this wall each day. School work, social pressures, and instability attacked my defenses from every angle. As hard as I tried, the wall of resistance couldn’t hold any longer. It finally caved in, and I cracked. I grew distant from my old friends, fell into unhealthy habits, and turned into a petty person who I didn’t recognize when I looked into the mirror. I was depending on others for everything, including my happiness. I didn’t like what change had done to me, and I didn’t know how to find my old self again.
The weird thing about change is that it doesn’t always have to be bad. I never saw change as a positive thing until I had no choice but to use to my advantage. I had to switch my mindset and take action to change myself into the person I wanted to be. I made the decision to transfer knowing I needed a more nurturing environment in order to improve myself, but I knew that meant I would have to face a lot more change. This time, though, I was going to embrace it and not resist it.
That brings us to one year ago. I went about my first day of classes (and yes, I slipped on the ice and onto my butt twice in that one day) and I worked to keep that brick wall from building up. I kept my mind open as I went about the campus for the rest of the week and for the remainder of the semester – constantly reminding myself that change was, indeed, a good thing. I was blown away about how much easier college became when I did this. I joined new campus clubs and made lifelong friends that I spent nearly all of my time with. I embraced all the opportunities that came along with the changes occurring in my life.
This acceptance of change was far from easy, and facing all the new change (for the second time) took a lot of bravery. I was scared I was going to fail (again) and that I would find myself back in a rut. But none of that happened. In fact, life is just as good, if not better, than it ever has been before. If I wouldn’t have been brave enough to stand up and face my fears, I would not have found my passion for sciences or a spot on the UW-L dance team. I would not have found my second family in my new friends or learned how to walk 15 minutes in -27 degree weather. Change is not something to run from or resist, it is one of the best opportunities life can ever give you. Take it, embrace it, and face it with a brave soul. You never know what hidden treasures life has in store.