In honor of homecoming week at my alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, I decided to write about my college experience. I could go on and on, telling you about all of the many things I accomplished while I attended UAPB. You name it. I did it. I was a cheerleader, student government member, Miss Black & Gold, a member of the greatest sorority ever, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the 82nd Miss UAPB among a host of other things. Sounds exciting, right? I had it all. The perfect college experience that ended with a cherry or better yet, a crown, on top. Or so it seems…
What many people don’t know is that although I was a bit of an over achiever during those four years, I was also depressed, insecure, scared and lost. The crazy thing about that is, no one would know this unless I told them. So now, you know.
I was depressed my freshman year at UAPB. I was a first generation college student with no guidance, on my own, facing the unknown. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I had lost my brother just a couple months prior to starting college and I was still grieving. Although I enjoyed my first year of college, I missed every single party that year, remained locked away in my dorm room and probably missed out on a lot of new friends and opportunities because I just didn’t want to face the world. I wasn’t ready.
Freshman 15 wasn’t an issue for me. I actually lost weight so that I could become a cheerleader at UAPB. I worked my way up from the pom squad to the co-ed team. I was in the best shape of my life, and yet I felt the worst. I loved cheerleading, but the pressure to fit into a tiny uniform and perform in front of hundreds of people was sometimes a bit much for me. My friends hated when I would complain about being too fat, or having rolls when I was a size 3. I had to explain to them that in the real world, I was small, but in the “cheerleading world”, I was still too big and I was very insecure.
I think everyone feels scared and lost at some point in their college careers. Most of my fears came from having no clue what to expect in college. I had no one to turn to for advice on the simplest things like choosing a major, handling college relationships or even joining a sorority. As a result, I changed my major 3 times, kept to myself and refrained from being too involved in organizations and getting too close to people.
Although I finished college in 4 years with many accomplishments, I do have one regret. I wish I would’ve taken the time to enjoy it more. If I hadn’t had to deal with these issues in college, who knows what else I could’ve added to my experience. But then again, the adversity I faced is what made me who I am now and for God’s plan, I’m grateful.
Although this is just a tiny snippet of my behind the scenes college experience, I know I’m not alone. I’m sure many other students share similar stories; even the ones like me that seemed to have conquered it all. This just goes to show, all that glitters isn’t really black and GOLD.