As told to Dustin Rieman
I was driving to Ohio Northern University. I was with my mom and dad for the last time, at least for awhile. I was excited to meet new friends and live on my own. We were driving from my little, cornfield hometown, Seville which is two hours away from ONU. It was ten in the morning. We left later than planned because my little sisters had school and my mom needed to get them on the bus before we could leave. Also, it took longer to pack than planned. I was already stressed once we left and the car was absolutely jam packed with tons of stuff. The fridge, microwave, clothes, snacks, and books. It looked like we just robbed my bedroom. I was ready to start this new chapter in my life, college.
My decision to go to ONU wasn’t necessarily a hard one. I looked at a couple of different schools, but circumstances lent themselves to coming to this small town school, it reminded me of home. I mean I think everything happens for a reason, and that’s why I am going to Northern. I don’t know if I know what that reason is yet, but someday I will know. Right now I would say that I am just trying to graduate, and ‘day one’ was just part of the plan. However, most of the time I would say I don’t really have a plan. It was about a half an hour into our drive, I was doing a mental checklist of the jammed car when I realized that I was missing something…. My dinosaur of a laptop.
On ‘day one’ I was only 30 minutes into it and had to turn around. This suspended my arrival to college and it was not good. I got the 9-year-old computer and we were back on our way. I don’t even know if it was worth it to go back, but finally, I arrived. I meet my soon-to-be roommate through a mutual friend. However, that didn’t last long. When I arrived my super nice, peppy RA gave me my stuff and told me sternly how important it was not to lose my key. What did I do? I lost my key. I slid it into a little box I was holding that had a cactus and a fish in it. So now not only was I late to school, I couldn’t even get into the one place I was supposed to call home.
Luckily, I finally found it, and when I walked into my room I was shocked to see the setup. My roommate seemed to have wanted the whole room to herself. The beds were bunked but under her bed, and she had these stupid little, fuzzy hot pink chairs and my furniture was shoved under mine and the rest of the room that was meant to be for both of us to hang out and what not, she had her desk all set up and her dresser with a bunch of stuff on it. There was like a one and a half foot space next to my lofted bed before the wall, and even that had this little chest of drawers that belonged to her.
Anyway, I am not very confrontational. It had already been a long ‘day one’ so I decided to just go cry in the car. It helped because then dad took care of the issue of, well, no space. In the car it felt like everything was falling apart. Between being late and not having any space in my new room, I felt lost. I was shocked and overwhelmed by the idea of fitting all of my stuff into that small space, and my roommate was not who I was expecting. She was wearing a pretty risque crop top and she was so happy with how our room was set up and saw no issue about it. I was so frustrated.
My mom climbed into the back seat of the car with me and tried to calm me down. It wasn’t really working. She was just making me not want her to leave me in this foreign place. I realized I had to meet with my first class soon. My Mom suggested a simple solution. Skip It. I skipped it.
Yes it was a tiring start to day one and it was just getting started. Then that night there was the dreaded playfair. Playfair was loud and full of people and required us to be so touchy and had us running across the gym. We had to get on people’s backs and hug random people. It was so faked and none of these people I met ended up being close friends of mine. It felt like meaningless interactions and it was not fun at all. It seemed like people were trying too hard and it ended up feeling very fake. This orientation event felt forced upon me. I was already tired and it lasted way too long, like three hours, and we needed to be up at like 7 the next morning. It was another overwhelming event of ‘day one’. I finally got into my bed. In case you were wondering I had “some” space in my room at that point. Yeah ‘day one’ was one bad day.
It is safe to say ‘day two’ was not smooth sailing either. ‘Day 2’ started with a lecture by a policeman of all the rules and how to not screw up at college. Then they split us into our orientation groups and made us run all over campus doing a scavenger hunt. It was silly. Then we had classes about being healthy and a bunch of common sense stuff. Then we had greekapolooza and there was a magician. None of it was terrible but none the less it still felt meaningless. My roommate was my only friend so far and she was so judgy of everyone and everything and I was having a hard time branching away from her. I guess you could say this is when I started to doubt my decision to be at Ohio Northern. I wanted to leave and I called my mom and I told her that I came here for the wrong reasons. I told her that this place was not anything like I was expecting it to be. I was disappointed and more importantly I felt lost. I felt alone. Doubt was starting to fill my mind. I mean things weren’t exactly how I was expecting them to be. I could not have taken one more day of not feeling in the right place. However, it is funny how things can change in one day.
Finally a breath of fresh air is what ‘day three’ was. If you know me I am sometimes loud and awkward. But I know I am me for a reason. Like I said I might not know that reason at this moment but someday I will. I knew I was on the right path on ‘day three’. I finally meet some of the people from the art department. You could say some of them are hippies but, yeah, everyone was weird. Bill had embraced what he wanted to do and was wearing no shoes. He wanted, from the beginning, to teach me to question everything and form my own opinions. He has such a calming quality about him, he talked slowly and was very informal. All of the art majors were weird in their own way and I could relate them. They were goofy and laughed a lot. We clicked so quickly. I finally felt comfortable. I felt at home. These were my type of people. I guess this is when I realized that I don’t have to have it all figured out all the time. That sometimes you have to go through days one and two to get to the moments when you feel in place. This is what I was hoping for the whole time, I was hoping for ‘day three’. Art was a relief for me, and looking back you would think I would have taken my own advice sooner. Like I said I really do not know why days one and two happened.
One time someone asked me a question about myself. They weren’t trying to be mean, but the question was ‘why am I loud?’ I guess the question was more ‘why am I me?’ I think I’m loud because I’m from a family of 6 kids and I’ve been always surrounded by people and you have to be loud sometimes or you get lost in the mix. I’m not sure why I’m awkward though. My mom and I are a lot alike, we both are pretty outgoing but in quirky, awkward way. There are things about me that sometimes I don’t understand, but I know they are apart of me for a reason. If I wasn’t me I wouldn’t be an art major at Ohio Northern. I might not have made it through ‘day one’ or ‘day two’, but I did because inside I knew that my ‘day three’ was coming. I think that my days one and two made my ‘day three’ even better. It made me realize how lucky I was to be surrounded by the people that would help me become who I am. I made the decision not to be afraid because like I said, everything happens for a reason.
I guess you could say I was relieved. That is my story.
This story originally appeared in Facing Our Futures Beyond High School, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.