As the last few weeks of my final semester at the University of Indianapolis wind down, I can’t help but think about how unusual my college experience has been. Half of it was rudely interrupted by COVID-19 and took place online, much to my dismay. Yet even the normal half proved to be very different from what I had expected of my college experience.
Honestly, I am not quite sure how I ended up at UIndy. My young, naive high school brain did not have the best criteria to guide my college search process, and looking back on my decision, I feel I made it a little haphazardly. I knew I wanted to run Division II cross country and track, go to school in a big city and stay within a few hours of my hometown. I did not care about much else because I did not know what else to care about. I had no clue what I wanted to study or do after I graduated, so I decided to worry about that later and hoped whatever school I picked would magically work everything out. UIndy seemed to fit the bill on the few things I knew I wanted. It was in a big city and the athletic team seemed competitive, so I figured that was good enough. I decided to study biology because it seemed as good a major as any.
I learned a lot my freshman year. I learned that biology didn’t particularly interest me. I learned that I wanted to do something less STEM-y and that I really enjoyed studying religions. Through that, I finally learned what I was looking for in college.
Unfortunately, I began to think UIndy did not have what I was looking for. And that was true for a while, as my experience at UIndy didn’t quite turn out the way I had expected or hoped. Athletics was not all I’d come to believe it would be, and while the university is in a big city, the south side is not a particularly scenic place to run around and get my training miles in. I felt like I had made the wrong decision.
I was mistaken. My experience at UIndy was not perfect, but no one’s years at college are. I compared myself too heavily to what my friends at other schools were doing, or what I had seen on TV or in movies. I realized that while my regrets were true on a surface level, I had a lot to be grateful for during my time at UIndy. After all, here I had discovered my interests in writing and journalism. Here, I met many amazing people who heavily influenced the person I am today. I ran here with teammates I’ll forever count among my closest friends. Here, I began to think for myself and realized who I want to be. Things may not have gone as planned, but my time at UIndy has taught me who I am and what I want to get out of life.
So as my time at this small university on the south side of Indianapolis draws to a close, I want to encourage others who may find themselves in a similar situation to give things a chance. This is a different college experience, and COVID-19 has made everything worse, but life will get better. You can and will grow and change and find out all sorts of amazing things about yourself and others. You just need to push through the hard times, try something new and never stop discovering things about yourself.