They say that your freshman year of college is supposed to be great, one of the best years of your life, but what if it isn’t?

When I started my freshman year at a large southern state school, I was ecstatic. I was excited to be far away from home, go out and meet new people, and truly embrace my “dream school.”

What I soon realized was that this was no longer my dream school. While I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t happy. I realized I wanted to be closer to home, I loved meeting new people but couldn’t quite find “my people.”

I didn’t even like football (gasp).

As I grew during my first few months in college, I found that as I grew and changed, I wasn’t the same person who chose to go to this overwhelming school.

I now found myself wanting something smaller and closer to home, which was shocking to me and all of my friends and family considering my initial priorities when deciding on a university were “far away” and “large.”

So now, facing this internal struggle, what should I do?

I had moved 7 hours away to a school I didn’t like. As freshman year was coming to a close and I was realizing this, the logical thing to do would be to apply to transfer for the following fall, say my goodbyes, and move home for the summer ready to begin a new chapter. That would be logical right?

It would have been, but why would I do that? Have you ever met one of those people who needs an unnecessary amount of reassurance? That’s me.

I called friends and family near and far, all of them supporting and encouraging me to transfer in the fall. Mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, cousin’s friends, you name it. But I still had the smallest amount of uncertainty, I had to try it again.

Sophomore year, my family moved all of my furniture into a house, I signed up for classes, and I was still unhappy. On the first day of classes, I sat down in my room, looked around, and finally realized that this is not my place.

That day, I packed a bag and drove the seven hours home to Charlotte. I called my mom and told her I was coming home and she immediately knew why.

Logistically, the following week was hard, I had to figure out what to do with my stuff, what I would do for the semester, and what I would do after. But I knew in my heart that what I was doing was right for me.

Sometimes I wish I had figured it out sooner, didn’t have to figure things out “the hard way.” But in the end, I’m grateful and glad that I did.

If there is anything you can take away from the story, let it be these lessons:

1. Remaining Authentic to Yourself is Being Kind to Yourself

You know you better than anyone. Living authentically is being honest with yourself and living your life the way you truly want to. I found it hard to ignore the voices and audience of others. Friends were saying one thing, family another.

In the end, no one could make my decision to leave except for me. Making the effort every day to live authentically is what ultimately enabled me to make the best of a difficult and complicated time in my life.

2. Changing Your Mind Feels like a Failure, but Is a Sign of Maturity and Growth

It is okay to be doing something different and making a change. Change is definitely not easy and making the best decision isn’t always clear. I had to take a leap of faith and trust myself that my decision to leave was the best decision for me.

I sometimes feel that I didn’t initially leave because I didn’t trust myself to make such a monumental choice. Change is a necessary catalyst for growth, and to keep moving forward we need to keep growing.

3. Let “You” Be the Most Important Person in Your Life When You Need To

I once read a quote from Penny Reid that said: “don’t light yourself on fire to keep others warm.” As an extremely extroverted and empathetic person, I am always making an extreme effort to care for my friends during hard times.

I find myself always calling to check on them, spending quality time with them, and thinking of ways I can support them throughout the day. I think it is hard to see sometimes that the care we are giving other people should be equal to, if not less than the care we are giving ourselves.

I am often scared of being selfish but need to be reminded that being selfish isn’t all bad. Caring for yourself should be a top priority, especially when you are going through a difficult or draining life experience.

In the next semester, I took transient classes at Queens University not in my major of Marketing, but in the subject of Psychology. With those classes, my path became clear and I was finally happy.

Written By: Margaret Baughan

Margaret is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is majoring in psychology with a double minor in Religious Studies and Public Health.

She loves to cook and has an eclectic array of hobbies such as making jewelry, doing puzzles, and playing with Legos. Her favorite movie series is Harry Potter but also loves Moana, Mulan, and Smokey and the Bandit.


  1. Margaret, it is wonderful to see how much you have learned from your experiences of the last few years. Each experience adds to to our character and what we learn makes us who we are ( that’s Gramma language for what you said. Love you!


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