Dear Struggling Reader,

More than likely you have found your way to the big (or small) campus of your college or university and things are now starting to settle in. Unfortunately, as a new student- Freshman, transfer, etc.- the days may not be going the way you planned or pictured weeks, months, even years prior. You may be thinking “What did I get myself into?” or “Why am I the only one who can’t find friends?” or “I’m not ready to be around the pressures of college students.”

The thing is… you’re not alone!

The first few days here at UMass Amherst I was wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of moving in, finding my classes, getting aquatinted with my roommate, and everything in between. Now the days, and especially nights, are becoming hard as my mind rushes with self-identity questions and challenges with my faith. ALL I WANT TO DO IS GO HOME! I doubt my free-spirited personality to make a good group of friends which leads to questioning if drugs, alcohol, and boys could help that doubted ego.

After telling my friends that I wanted to stay in for the night and NOT go on and cope in a negative way, I gave myself space and time to dig deep into how “stuck” and lonely I feel for my first week. Here is what I came up with and I hope my thinking and advice will help you stray from negative coping skills in order to feel better about a scary situation.

– I am not alone in this lonely and lost feeling
– YOU are NEVER alone
– It is just the first week
– It may be your first or second week (maybe you 3rd YEAR!!) and thats okay!!! Give it a few more days and the school will have so much more to offer (clubs, sports games, holiday breaks, social events, classes, concerts, plays). These places are where you can get to know people one-on-one or in a group (without the booze or drugs).
– I do NOT have to change who I am to fit in. Trust my instincts.
– Please, please, please keep this in mind. You NEVER have to try, do, or say ANYTHING that makes you uncomfortable. If you find that you are with people who are doing things that you have never and aren’t comfortable with… THAT IS THE WRONG GROUP. If you are scared that people will look down on you for not drinking or smoking, that usually is not the case. People don’t care if you are sober or smashed… so why be fake? Never ever feel like you are the only one “out of the loop.”

– God is with me.
– I have an extensive background on my faith. My religion, faith, and spirituality is something that has never left me, but something that I have put on hold during periods of my life. Right now I know that I need structure and control back in my life and I will not give myself that. I am giving it to God. How? I joined Cru, the Christian organization on campus that meets weekly. I know that God will work in me AND in YOU if you let him. Reach out and find that core group of friends. For me… Im still looking. Never give up until you feel like the people you are with make you feel like a better person.

There is ALWAYS someone, something, or somewhere out there for you. All I’m asking of you, Reader, please, please, PLEASE never give up on yourself.

Make these years count.

Yours truly and always here for you,