College can be a lonely journey sometimes. As a freshman, it is very easy to become overwhelmed by everything around you. The new people, the organizations, and the pressure to keep acceptable grades while also maintaining some sort of social presence. However, you have to remember that you don’t have to go through any of this on your own. Being a first-gen student, you already have this sense of independence about you. You’re used to do doing everything on your own and combating tough situations solo. Whether its translating something for your parents, powering through FAFSA alone, or just simply always being the one to take initiative. But in college, there are so many support systems around you, that you don’t have to be that person anymore.

As this gratitude-filled holiday rounds the corner, I want to give thanks to the support system that I developed my freshman year.

I entered college feeling the world on my shoulders. I went in with the mindset that I had to pave a way for myself and by myself.  I (stupidly) thought that I could handle everything that would be thrown at me. What I didn’t realize was that everything would be thrown at me all at one time. There are no baby steps in college. It was like a rollercoaster that took off before I could even reconsider getting on in the first place; and it’s safe to say that I wanted off immediately.

However, little did I know that there were people and resources lined up to help me. One of the people that helped me through school was my Bottom-Line advisor. She became someone that I could trust right away. As she helped me with the academic and financial aspect of school, she was also someone that I could confide in about so much more. I was also in a program for first-generation students called the Riverhawk Scholars Academy that helped students like myself adapt to the pressures that college can place on you. They provided us with both emotional and educational support that I will forever be appreciative of.

Lastly, but most notably, I have immense gratitude for my friends-old & new- and my family. I am so appreciative of the friends that I made my freshman year. We all were able to lean on one another when we needed it. Whenever any of us needed to vent about a hard test we took or complain about the questionable food in the dining hall, we were always there. Having a solid friend group in college reassures you that you are not alone. My friends have also helped me to grow as a person and I strongly recommend finding people at your university that make you want to do better day in and day out.

My family are my backbone. Everything that I am striving for is for them. Being away at school was hard at first, but I kept telling myself that at the end of the day, it was about so much more than me. They are my motivation to wake up for my 8am classes and study every chance I get. They push me to follow my dreams and to never give up. If I was having a stressful day, one FaceTime call from my family would make everything okay.

My Freshman year wouldn’t have been the success it was without everyone in my corner. Having people around me that only wanted to see me succeed, really lifted a healthy weight off of me. As a rollercoaster goes, there were many ups and downs, accompanied by many unexpected twists and turns. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. That’s what college is about! Having to navigate things on your own and throwing away your pride when you need help are some of the many ways that college helps to build your character.

So, my advice? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to confide in people when you feel the walls around you cave in a little bit. There is someone willing to help you everywhere you turn in college. Yes, being a first-generation student makes you one of the strongest and bravest people. On the other hand, knowing when you can’t handle something on your own makes you that much stronger.