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21 and Done

BY: Rebecca Messier ’19 

What is it like to be a 21-year-old senior at a private business college who’s three months away from graduation? Well, the first word I think of is panic, and then I think of the words anxious and excited. Granted, it’s a mix of emotions, every journey has a beginning. My journey came about when I first stepped on Nichols College campus for move-in weekend as a baby bison (commonly known as a freshman), afraid to let go of my parents’ hand and be my own person. Some freshmen will absolutely love the freedom because of the parties, the sports, the close friends, but I hated it. I hated change, I hated to be away from my family, I hated to leave behind my old high school friends, and I hated to be away from my dogs! Living with complete strangers was not my cup of tea either. My roommates came in and out at weird hours, I constantly felt judged for having stuffed animals on my bed, and, oh yeah, mingling at events was a whole new panic attack. I can honestly say that I would have rather starved myself than go to the dining hall because then I wouldn’t have to be on display.

I lasted one semester in the dorms; you have to give me some credit. Everyone tells you that you should dorm for at least a year in order to get a taste of that “college experience,” but I didn’t need it. I tried it and, instead of making my life miserable for a full four years, I chose to move off campus back into my parent’s house. There is no shame in making personal decisions on your own.

This was the first moment I realized I was changing. I could stick up for myself and say “No. This isn’t what I want to be doing.” A year and a half later, I met a guy I really liked and shortly after we were moved in together. It seemed like within two seconds I went from being a miserable robot to suddenly rebooting my system and gaining a sense of self. When you’re living on your own, you learn a lot of adult lessons really quick, one of which is paying rent. As a college student, what this essentially means is working 35+ hours between two or more part-time jobs while balancing courses and maintaining some sort of social connection just to give away money you’ll never see again. What a bargain!! When you break it down, you can see why us commuters, or any college student, would be drained. But, being an adult is necessary. Sorry kids.

What the experience of living on my own and continuing my path toward a Bachelor’s Degree has taught me is that “thick skin” comes with experience. Because I chose to move off campus, I decided to get a job, and because I had a stable job, I decided to move away to my own apartment. My current job as Service Manager at a Pet & Wild Bird Supply/Home & Garden Center has taught me the most important lesson so far: people aren’t scary. They are approachable and they help you if you’re nice and show a little ambition.

This fact helped me in my college career at Nichols, especially in my second semester course—event management. For this class, our professor paired us in groups and partnered us with a local non-profit organization. My group was assigned the Blessed Backpack Brigade, who takes care of the Dudley, Oxford, and Webster, MA areas. Our task was to plan and design an event that would accomplish the organization’s desired goals; for example, raising $3,600 for a new building addition to house the homeless, which we did! Immediately after the first assignment, I saw myself emerge as the group leader. I was shocked. People were actually coming to me for advice and support on areas I probably didn’t know much more than them about, but at least I was getting recognized for my effort. Whether it was comprising a budget, creating marketing material, or organizing weekly meetings, I could do it! This is what Nichols wants its students to be accomplishing. Their slogan is literally Learn. Lead. Succeed. and I was doing it! The old Becky never would have been able to step up to the plate and lead a team for a project, let alone talk about a bowl of noodles. But, because of all of my past experiences and my newfound willingness to open up and try new things, I was able to refocus and motivate a team in order to host one of the best events in class history. It was a pure case of being bold, yet vulnerable; something I am still getting used to.

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All of these experiences, I now recognize, have molded me into an individual with intense grit. No matter where you are in your journey, you can always overcome the doubt you experience. So, here I am now, a senior in college about to go into the workforce; although I’m not the most confident, I feel prepared. There are a million more obstacles I know I can tackle that will help me grow in my career and beyond. I no longer fear public speaking, I no longer fear saying “no,” and I no longer fear getting that perfect job. Today, I know who I am, and I know where I’m hoping to go. Do you?

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