With anything new, there is always an adjustment period. I like to think that I am very capable (and even enthusiastic) about having to adapt to change or alter my habits to my environment, and I love experiencing what kind of person I become when I am forced to change. After having been here at OU for a month, I would definitely say that I have found a routine and that I am very comfortable living here, attending classes, and starting to get involved. My state of being has changed dramatically since my first week, and I want to write about a few of the personality and habit changes that I have experienced.
It is impossible to be as introverted as I used to be
My old self preferred days where her only interactions were either one-on-one or in small groups. She felt overwhelmed being in large crowds or in loud, rambunctious settings, and she feared small talk more than anything. She needed solitude to recharge and would have picked reading a book over going out with friends. Quiet settings were her sanctuaries, where she could stimulate her mind for hours with a book or a pencil and paper, and she was happy this way. It helped her to realize how different people are in their emotional and intellectual needs, and it naturally made her more inclined to listen rather than to speak, to be skeptical rather than to believe.
While I still embody many of these qualities, I have evolved noticeably after just four weeks of college life, and because my transformation is not a physical one, it is not obvious for everyone to see. I am much more comfortable around large amounts of people, an inevitable aspect of having chosen such a large school, and small talk is less daunting for me now that I have met a lot of new people here. Class discussions have prompted me to voice my opinion when I would have previously slipped into the background and listened to what others had to say (I still prefer to listen, though). In general, my once heavily concentrated introversion has been diluted to the point where it no longer dictates my life, and I have only been here four weeks. ☺
Privacy and seclusion are no more
No matter where I go here on campus, there are always people around. Even my “bedroom” has two other occupants with whom I share the space, and my new inability to find the seclusion I needed was the most difficult adjustment I had to make.
The best way to convey how I felt would be to compare myself to an asthmatic who, as she experiences an asthma attack, is frantically searching her surroundings for her inhaler, ripping open drawers and ransacking her home to no avail. Of course, I was not going to die from not finding a “hiding place,” but it felt that way to me, someone who always had that option at home. Today, I can say that my once perpetual need for moments of isolation has, like my introversion, lessened to the point where I can feel refreshed and refueled in places like the Great Reading Room or the beautifully landscaped garden at Sarkey’s Energy Center. Surprisingly, I even feel a new sense of security and belonging when I am, say, walking down the South Oval to class. It is a great feeling.
You cannot survive without patience
I consider myself a very patient person. Early on, I realized that I did not enjoy the anxious and irritated feeling that took over me when waiting in a long line or when interacting with someone I did not get along with. It came to me that I could control my feelings — to an extent.
I willed myself to take a few deep breaths and think through the situation rationally: I am being immature, I would think to myself. I am not special, and there is no reason why I cannot calm down and wait my turn like everyone else. Do people find irritability and shortness endearing? If I grumble and complain about this, will that positively affect my situation and the way people perceive me? After doing this a few times during situations where patience was required, I conditioned myself to automatically assess my surroundings at all times and to try and act in the least resistant way. This has especially benefitted me here at college because everything here is shared: Living areas, elevators, stairs, lounging areas, cafeterias, laundry rooms, libraries, classrooms, teachers, desks, gyms, books, swing sets, sidewalks, benches, and with this sharing comes lots of waiting and cooperation. I personally did not have trouble adapting to this, but I would not say it was effortless; it is just something we all have to do.
I am always tired and hungry
Even with a meal plan that entitles me to anything and everything in the Couch Restaurants, I find that at any given time, I’m hungry. As I’ve heard many other students say, “Wherever the free food is is where I will be.” I could not agree more.
Along with that, I am constantly tired or taking a nap. Even though it is joked about so much amongst hardworking, sleep deprived people, lack of sleep is incredibly unhealthy. Getting adequate sleep is just as important as eating quality foods and drinking enough water each day, and sleep deprivation is basically an unspoken requirement of success (or so it seems) in many aspects of life here in the U.S. I succumbed to that expectation at first (not just because of homework, but Netflix as well), but once my body and mood had disintegrated to the point of misery, I decided it was of the most importance to find a better balance. I still struggle with this, but it is getting better, and I hope that everyone learns to find more time for sleep (napping is great).
Overall, I am really enjoying my time here at OU, and I look forward to each new day and whatever may happen. Even more so, I’m looking forward to my first study abroad trip and the experiences I will gain from it.