When people look at me, they probably think I’m pretty put together: I’m about to finish college and I have friends. I seem fairly normal. For some reason today, I was thinking about how much I’ve changed since I came to college. My friends that I’ve met at Ball State have gotten to know me well for who I am now, but have no idea about the person I used to be. I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten closer with friends, I’ve been able to share more of my pre-college days.
I can’t decide if I should start at the top or bottom. I think I’ll start with the bottom.
I grew up out in the country, so when I was little my days consisted of me playing outside in the creek, mud and rain. I built forts out of sticks and rocks. We lived on a dead-end road, so the only one neighbor was close to my age. My sister, Cassi and I were quite the trio. We explored the woods and played in the attic of our shed, pretending we lived back in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Back then we called it playing, “Olden Days.”)
I was loud and talkative. I loved to goof off and play and I wasn’t afraid of new people. I hung out with the boys when I first began school. My parents have been friends with the same couple since they were in high school, so they ended up having kids at the same time. Melissa and Kara were the same age, while Michael and I were in the same grade. This was the point in my life where I hit the fork to either become that girly-girl or the tomboy. Hmm..guess which one I chose? I had short hair and refused to pierce my ears. I begged my mom to let me play youth football and always tried to show the boys I was just as good as them.
[It's nice because I'm still friends with Melissa and Michael. We've spend Christmas Eve together every year. Michael's dating my best friend from high school, and Melissa also went to Ball State. This is just a side note about how it's great when something in your life never changes. These are two people I know will never not be a part of my life. No matter where we go or what we do, we're always going to have our childhood memories together. Saturday night was Nobbe/Bane night.]
When I started middle school, I realized something about my guy friends: They were suddenly interested in girls. They weren’t interested in me because I probably acted too much like them. I quickly realized my awkward appearance was suddenly not fine anymore. I wasn’t one of the ‘pretty girls.’ I had braces, acne and curly hair that I didn’t know how to handle. I was that kid walking around with my backpack unzipped. You know that kid; you even see them in college sometimes. There they are, walking around and they have no idea. Today, I was the kid. It brought my memories, so I think that’s why it struck me to write this post. Whenever I see the unzipped backpack kid walking around, I always go up to them and tell them. Nobody wants to be that kid; even in college.
Now, in middle school I wasn’t a complete tomboy: I did start to make more friends that were girls and I even was a cheerleader. I caught on quickly and did pretty well, but I was always so negative. I was always convinced that people didn’t like me, or that people were making fun of me. A lot had to do with the braces and hair I’m guessing. I just wasn’t confident with myself. I suddenly started becoming quieter and quieter in social situations.
When I got to high school, things were a little better. I managed to lose the braces and started learning how to make my hair look less insane. I did well in school, but still stuck to my close group of friends. I avoided the “cool” kids because I felt like I wasn’t worthy (who knows!) of their company. Once again, I always assumed people were talking about me or making fun of me. My junior year, I had my first real relationship. We dated for a year, I got cheated on for the first time and then sunk back into my not-so-confident self. He started dating a girl that at the time I thought was better than me because she was a pretty blonde. I felt like I was the awkward redhead and convinced myself that nobody wanted me. My senior year consisted of me being quiet for the most part, sulking over my lost relationship and first love. Sure, I had a good time with my friends, but underneath I was always sad. I had a 3.8 or 3.9 when I graduated from high school and for some reason I was convinced no college would even let me in. When Ball State let me in, I was amazed. For some reason, I couldn’t recognize the fact that I was talented at certain things. I got accepted into the art school and still told myself that I must have just gotten lucky; that it was a fluke I got in.
Once I started college, I realized this was my chance to be myself. It took awhile to adjust. I spent everyday until Labor Day weekend crying because I missed my family. After that, I managed to pull myself together and realize that I could handle college. After my first semester as an art major, I realized I wasn’t in the right area. I changed my major to journalism and it basically changed who I am as a person. I’ve never really realized it until I just wrote it down. I think the day I finally realized I was in the right place and was confident in my abilities was the day I bounced back.
At the beginning of my sophomore year I decided I was going to get involved and participate on campus. I joined every organization possible: BallBearingsOnline.com, DN, expo magazine and Cardinal Communications. I was miserable because I never slept, I ate terrible food and I didn’t get to see my friends outside of the department. But although I was stressed out and incredibly busy, I loved it. I love the feeling that I was doing something right in my life and that people respected me. People actually knew my name in the department and it felt good to finally be able to say I was confident.
My past did change me a bit, so there are some things that need to be fixed: I’m not quick to share my emotions with anyone, I don’t like crying in front of people and I’m really independent. It’s annoying for those close to me. They want to help and I just can’t seem to let it out. To feel better I throw myself into work. It works for a bit, but if I’m having a real issue, it doesn’t go away. I don’t have drama or a lot of issues, so I guess that’s good. I’m independent to the point where I’ll struggle to carry in six bags up eight flights of stairs just because I want to prove I can do it. (And yes, this happened in the dorm. A nice guy asked to help and I said no. I ended up about falling down the stairs and sweating to the max.)
Eric and I have been dating almost a year and he’s the first guy I’ve ever been able to completely be myself around or express any type of emotion to. Trust me, it hasn’t been easy. He’s had to force me to communicate and actually speak when something’s wrong. I’ve made excellent progress. Even something as simple as this blog: For those of you that have stuck around and read my posts, I don’t really let myself out in it. Sure, I write funny things and show my personality, but I’ve never really rambled about myself like this. It feels good, yet awkward in a way.
Now that I’ve got four years of college under my belt and experience in my field, I’m feeling confident. I feel great. I’m happy with my life, my friends, family and anything else there is. Sure, I’m anxious because I have no idea where I’ll be in two months. I know I’m obsessive about my job search and probably driving my friends crazy, but please bear with me. I’m excited so I can’t help but talk about it all the time. Just please deal with me for a little bit longer.
When it comes down to it, I’ve done a 180 in four short years: But I’m happy with myself and I think there’s a place in the world for oddballs like me: That goofy, nerdy, awkward, unzipped backpack kid who randomly dances in her kitchen and speaks in accents because she thinks it’s entertaining.
Trust me, you can learn to love me.