The only thing that matters in college is you
Despite how fixed our identities feel when we first enter college, we usually end up changing quite a bit through the years. It is true that what matters is us, but who we become is vastly different from who we are when we enter college. Haleigh Fitzsimmons is a prime example of this statement.
“I was so different my freshman year. First of all, I dyed my hair blonde, which I think showed how deeply focused I was on what people thought of me and how it stopped me from doing a lot of things. I didn’t do theatre because I thought it was nerdy. I am a huge introvert and I spent so much time around people and it just caused me to be exhausted all the time. My junior year, I let my natural hair grow out, I started wearing the clothes I wanted, and ultimately chased what was healthy for me.”
This journey to stay more true to herself began with changing her major. “I came in undecided, and quickly switched to secondary education, English. I stayed there until about my junior year, when I was doing practicum. I liked the classroom environment, I liked the kids, but something just felt off. It was then that I started to make the decision to change.”
For Haleigh, it was not an easy switch. “I did not switch my major to English until my junior year. Many people encouraged me to continue in my education major, because of job security, or just because they thought that this was the thing I would be good at. For a long time, I was listening to other people’s ideas of what my life should be rather than what I actually wanted my life to be.”
Now, Haleigh is majoring in English and planning to get a job in Public Relations after she graduates. “Eventually, I am planning on getting my master's in creative writing or theatre. I want to be a published author and teach at the collegiate level. It took a lot of research to get to the point when I actually felt comfortable pursuing this future, but it is so worth it.”
Haleigh believes that freshman can find this same happiness by remembering to chase what is healthy for them. “Whenever I talk to freshmen and they ask me to tell them what to do, I always make sure to ask them, ‘well, what do you want to do?’ Use your gifts that you were born with and listen to that voice in your head that’s telling you where to go. When you go through hard things, learn from them. And don’t go to bed at 3AM.”