I went to Bed Bath and Beyond at least four times in this August. I genuinely think that the cashiers started to recognize my Mom and me as we piled more and more super unnecessary “necessities” onto the checkout counter. I became strangely obsessive about getting absolutely everything I could ever possibly need in college, such as a clearly vital miniature ironing board and adult multivitamin gummies. I woke up in the middle of the night, utterly distraught over potentially forgetting to buy Lysol wipes or shower shoes.
I did not realize it at the time, but looking back, I know that I focused so keenly on every detail of college that I could control because I was wildly afraid of all the things that I could not.
I was walking through the aisles of CVS, debating which “moisturizing” body wash was probably the most moisturizing. What if I get homesick? I was buying sheets at Home Goods, pulling every set out of the display to check if it was Twin XL so my feet wouldn’t stick out the bottom. What if I have trouble making friends? I was packing my clothes, deciding which ones I could leave at home until Thanksgiving break. What if I don’t get along with my roommate? I was methodically choosing pictures to print out for my dorm, mostly concerned about getting a nice shot of my dog. What if I struggle to find my place? What if I don’t have time to join clubs? What if I don’t like my courses? What if everyone knows what their future looks like but me? What if I just don’t like it there?
I was so caught up in the idea of “control”, of focusing on the small things that I was able to manipulate to my liking (like my dorm decorations), in order to distract myself from the burning hypotheticals in the back of my mind. Now, I am a month into my college career at Hopkins and I can safely say that most of my experience has been out of my control, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I did not plan to join Tutorial Project, the tutoring program for local elementary school students, which caught my eye at the club fair and is one of the most rewarding things I do at Hopkins. I did not plan to switch one of my courses in the very first week of school to Fiction and Poetry I, which challenges me to be a better writer and is now one of my favorite classes. I did not plan to meet the people I met in totally random situations, like Isabel who I met while filling up my water pitcher outside of my dorm, or Rachel who I met when auditioning for an a cappella group that I didn’t even get into, yet still wanted to get coffee with me and talk about life.
Control is a funny thing. Our minds naturally crave it, although most things in life are truly unpredictable. I never thought I would be lucky enough to end up at a school like Hopkins, where I feel so welcome and at home, where I am challenged every day, and where I am meeting some of the most interesting and genuine people I have ever met. But the uncontrollable, unpredictable, unforeseeable things in my life have been the best thus far.