Year 1; 2013-2014
When my parents dropped me off at Bean East, the infamous worst dorm at the University of Oregon, they left me with a careless impression of, “Figure it out, kid.” With no expectations, or better yet– understandings of college, I was at a loss at first.
At times, the dorms felt like summer camp, which I resented after hating 5+ previous summers of counselors and ice breakers. During the first evening, I met Elle, who is still one of my closest friends to this day. We quickly bonded in the Fire & Spice line over a conversation about Lady Gaga and Beyonce– what better topic? From there, the adventures took off.
My first house show, college party, football game, even Snapchat all happened during week one. In fact, the first time someone attempted to take advantage of me was at my first college party as well. Statistics don’t lie when they say the first six weeks of college are the most dangerous for sexual assault. Thank goodness I was aware of my surroundings and myself enough to not let some boy convince me that “I was too drunk to leave” the bedroom we were in. But, that is a lesson to be expanded on another time, so I digress. All in all, my initial impression of college was only a confused understanding that I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and that mystery resonated as an adrenaline rush.
Making friends felt like dating in itself, and I kissed a lot of frogs. As usual for me, sometimes my kindness and generosity to others gets taken for granted. I would get plenty of texts on a Friday evening from people who hadn’t otherwise spoken to me for weeks asking for party details that weekend. While I’m always happy to share a good weekend celebration, I would prefer to be liked for who I am, not my network. Thankfully, Eugene had enough fish in the sea for me to rule out those who I recognized this behavior in. While I don’t talk to most of those I spent time with fall term, or freshman year as a whole, I remain on good terms with majority and have learned about myself in the process.
It wasn’t until I ran into a friend from high school in the lunch line that I started on the path towards the people that would really affect me. Thomas asked, “Hey, have you heard of BRW? I think you would like it.” With no clue what BRW was, I simply thanked him for the suggestion, but shrugged it off as something I’d never participate in.
However, that same evening, I attended a party where I scouted for a new friend that I could share mindful conversations with. I thought I had made a connection, until the boy I was speaking to placed his hand strategically on my leg. Disappointed that I hadn’t found what I was looking for, I got up to leave. On my way out, a tall blonde with a radiating smile complimented my jacket. Her name was Serenity, and she was accompanied by a lovely girl, Indigo. They asked if I was a Pisces, and a little startled but curious, I confirmed, and they laughed that their horoscopes said they would meet one today. It was then that they invited me to BRW, and after already being suggested attending, I had to accept. It felt like the stars had aligned.
BRW is an all-inclusive gathering of people with only one rule: to be genuinely kind to others, knowing that the positivity will return through good vibes, good friends, and good times. It was a safe space for a large network of people to meet every Wednesday. Like for many others, it changed my life. I never been surrounded by such brightly spirited people– a radiance I had never found in California’s superficial culture. I felt at home, accepted, and welcomed for the first time since moving to Oregon. To this day, those friends remain some of the people closest to my heart.
At the same time, I’m an explorer who is invigorated by a variety of experiences. So while BRW was my favorite community, I tried my hand in others as well. However, as many other people can empathize, finding a niche is not easy when you first come to college. I never felt comfortable in my sorority– a story to share another time. I reached out to people that I thought I clicked with, but oftentimes realized later that connection was unreliable. I missed my long-distance boyfriend at the time, which made me feel homesick often. I wanted my partner in crime, Tim, to take on this new adventure with me. I visited one of my best friends, Greg, in Salem a few times to feel comfort again. I joined an activist group for a cause I cared for, but didn’t find the people I worked with regularly had as much drive as I did. I intended to transfer to UC Berkeley, however, I’m grateful now that I didn’t.
It was all a confusing mess at the end of the day– a sentiment I think a lot of people could resonate with regarding their freshman year. But nonetheless, I learned more about myself in such a short amount of time than I ever had before. Being placed in a position where the reigns are in your hands and no clear direction ahead forces you to reflect on where you truly want to go. I was excited to try my hand a second time the next year, with better footing and a little more wisdom. May the freshman year of adulthood progress just as effectively.