Fresh Perspective | Mid-semester check in

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

Just a couple of months ago, I was moving back into my college house to start my third year of college. The weather was hot, and I couldn’t walk anywhere without sweat beads dampening my forehead. Football season returned, classes kicked off and the semester was underway. Now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, we are over halfway through the fall semester.

Leaves have covered the campus sidewalks, students have traded in their iced coffees for drinks that keep their hands warm and we just finished our midterm exams. As I am almost finished with the fall semester, it is a good time to check in on how it is going so far, and maybe some of you will relate.

To start off, I mentioned in an earlier post that junior year just felt different, and that hasn’t changed. I struggle with feeling older and wishing I was still a young and naive first-year who got excited about new experiences, but I’m also grateful for how much I have matured and grown from my first year of college. I have gained new experiences and perspectives over the past two and a half years, but sometimes I miss how it felt before everything felt so serious and real. Instead of figuring out what I am going to major in or what clubs I want to join as a first-year student, I am figuring out what professional career I want to enter when I graduate next year. The feeling of growing up and everything that comes with it is something I am navigating and struggling with this semester.

Something else I am struggling with this semester is imposter syndrome. I catch myself acting differently than who I actually am and have constant questions about my life, like how do my friends perceive me? Do I actually like my major, or am I just telling myself this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life? And what do I actually want to do in life? These questions and more are just some of the things that flood my mind. I’m experiencing self-doubt in a lot of areas of my life, and sometimes it feels like I play dress-up every day and play a role that is so different from myself.

This is something that has caused me a lot of anxiety, but I know most college students experience this feeling. We get put into a different environment for the first time in our lives and are expected to just figure it all out in four years. Of course we’re going to doubt ourselves along the way and question what we are doing. We just have to remember that it’s all part of growing up.

On a lighter note, this semester is the most stable I have felt in my friendships with others. Last semester there was a lot of turmoil and situations that caused myself and my friends a lot of anxiety and drama. Throughout my life, especially when I was younger, I have sometimes found myself in friendships that didn’t benefit me and caused me a lot of anxiety. Being left out or bullied in certain friendships is something I experienced a lot when I was younger, and it happened last year with certain friends. In the past, I would try to fight for friendships because I didn’t want to be lonely, but now I hold myself to a higher standard and place more value on my self-worth rather than letting my friendships determine that for me. So after a rough fall semester last year, I am glad I have stuck with my loyal group of friends who support and want the best for me. It is the best feeling ever.

Focusing on academics, I feel pretty confident about my academic performance so far this semester. Even though at times I wish I could feel more productive and motivated to do school work, I have a pretty good grasp on all of my classes and the workload. Feeling guilty about not being productive is something I am trying to work on. There are days when I’m on my feet and on campus all day doing work and there are other days where I sleep until noon and barely open my computer. What I’ve learned so far is to have grace with myself. Listening to my body and how I am mentally feeling is crucial. If there are days when I am feeling anxious or off, I take a step back and focus on myself. At the end of the day, schoolwork will always come and go, but I’m stuck with my mind and body for the rest of my life and it is necessary that I take care of it.

As we are more than halfway through the semester, it is important that you check up on yourself. How are you feeling? What areas of your life can you improve on? What is working for you and what isn’t? Answering these questions might be difficult, and that is okay, but making sure to check in with yourself. You will thank yourself later.


Julia Smeltzer writes primarily about mental health and college experiences. You can reach her at [email protected].