“I’m only a few days into my freshman year and am feeling completely overwhelmed.”
First of all, you are not alone. EVERYONE is feeling overwhelmed. It might look differently on other people, but that’s based on how they are coping.
Some withdraw, hide in their rooms, and get very homesick and lonely. Others push into the feeling and try to do everything, be everywhere, and become so busy that they don’t have a second to think about how overwhelmed they are. Others drink to make the feeling go away. Others cope by studying a lot. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.
The point is that everyone feels overwhelmed and are all just trying to cope with it in different ways. I know I sound like a broken record but…
1. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
It’s normal. Your lifestyle as you have known it for the past 18 years has been completely turned upside down and you’ve been given a lot of new decisions to make. Which student organizations do I want to be in? Will I rush? Can I handle 16 credits? Who do I want to spend time with? What friendships should I pursue? Meanwhile, you’re trying to figure out if college is harder than high school, how to share a room with someone else, and basically prove to yourself that you can do this. So OF COURSE you feel overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t?
2. Remind yourself every day: It will get better.
You have to believe this. Trust me when I tell you: It gets better. Or find an upper classman and let them tell you. It gets better. But you have to believe that in order to push through, otherwise you will drown in feeling overwhelmed.
3. Share with your peers.
If everyone around you is pretending like they’ve got it together–that’s what they’re doing to cope: pretending. Be the brave freshman who shares with her friends how you are really feeling and let’s bust into your community with some HONESTY. If you admit things aren’t easy, there will be a domino effect and suddenly everyone around you will start to admit it too. There is strength in communities where people are vulnerable and honest with how it’s really going.
4. Focus on what’s most important.
You are feeling overwhelmed, because frankly, there are just too many new things, new decisions for you to make. You have plenty of time to make all those decisions (what organizations? campus ministries? sorority? major? minor? etc). Again, just trust me on this. You can actually make ALL of those decisions I just listed your sophomore year. Some of you won’t find your best fit on campus until your 2nd or 3rd year, so take the pressure of yourself now and decide what is most important to you. I would suggest making your top two priorities: classes & finding good friends. Of course, most of you are going to find your good friends in a campus organization (a college ministry, sorority, etc.) and that’s great. I’m not suggesting don’t focus on those things, but instead, identify what’s the most important thing. And right now, for your freshman year, getting involved on campus is really about finding good friends who share your values and interests. So identify 2, maybe 3 things, that are the most important and base your decisions on those things. Then don’t worry about the rest– you have 4 whole years to do it all. This is just semester #1 of 8!
5. Be anxious for nothing…
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-7) (Come on, you knew I had to go there.) God’s word says: don’t worry about this! He’s GOT this. Fill your anxiety, fear, overwhelmed-ness with prayer and a thankful heart. Allow God to fill those anxious places with His peace and a greater trust in Him.
HE’S got this. YOU’VE got this. It will get easier. I promise.