Who I am is not who I was

Emily Branan

When I started college three years ago, I had no idea what to expect, but in those few weeks, before freshman year started, I was equal parts terrified and more excited than I had ever been.

College was hard for me at first. When I got to Loyola, I was painfully shy. I came from a small town in central Louisiana where everyone knew each other, so there was never any reason to break out of my comfort zone. It took me longer than it should have to make friends and start to feel comfortable in my new home. I was convinced that the idea of college as the best four years of your life was a lie.

College has been harder than I ever expected it to be, especially coming from a high school that stressed college preparation. I thought that my good grades in high school would automatically transfer over to college, but it has not been that easy. It has taken hours of stress-filled homework time to maintain my grade point average. Even now, I still find it hard to make it through the whirlwind of assignments that comes with every semester.

And while I have learned a lot in class, I learned a lot more about myself and can finally say I know who I am. The struggles of college have shown me how strong I am and how much I am capable of. While they’ve continued to give me advice, I no longer have my parents to lean on and I had to learn how to solve my own problems. Who I was as a high school senior preparing for college would never have imagined how much I would grow during college, and I am glad about that. I came to Loyola for a new adventure and I am really grateful that is what I got.

When I started college, I remember making a list of lofty goals I wanted to accomplish. One of the things I wrote was that I wanted to be less shy. I guess I thought college would make me magically become extroverted, and that has not happened at all. It has taken a lot of effort to get to the point where I no longer have to wait for my anxiety to subside before making phone calls or be able to go to interviews and not be extremely nervous. I’m by no means extroverted, and I have a long way to go, but in the last few years, I have come really far in terms of being able to hold a conversation with someone I just met.

Another thing college has allowed me to do is understand my own strengths and weaknesses. I have lost count of how many people have asked how I am a mass communication major if I am so quiet and struggle with being shy. Despite this, I believe picking mass communication as my major was probably the best choice I could have made. It has forced me out of my comfort zone and to combat my shyness. If I didn’t make a phone call or meet with a source, I wouldn’t have a story to turn in and my grades would reflect that. This major gave me an incentive to push myself and to do things I would not have made myself do on my own. I am extremely grateful to have professors and classes that have challenged me from the first day of freshman year.

I am looking forward to graduation, even though I am not sure yet what I am doing after. I am excited to see where life takes me and how much more I can grow as a person. The ups and downs of the past few years have made me feel prepared for whatever the next challenge
may be.