THE BLOG
11/12/2014 11:40 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2015

Coming Into My Own

I can't believe how long it's been since I last published an article... but I'm back!

It's only my seventh week here at Syracuse, but I feel that I am a part of a family; I am a part of something much bigger than myself. This is where I belong. I already participate in programs, have individual mentors and I live in the best hall on campus! I gotta say, I've made out.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but I have yet to get homesick. The fact that I speak to my family on a daily basis probably contributes to this, but I believe that the real reason is because there is always something to do on campus. We have outside lectures, games in the Carrier Dome and a plethora of other events that unite the Orange. There are more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.

I'm grateful to be attending my dream school because not only am I able to get a prestigious education, but there are many positive people that continue to encourage me and challenge me to think BIG. For this reason, Cuse is home away from home. I was raised to believe that I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to, so to actually be in the real world and see that I can put in the work to control my own destiny amazes me.

While you should surround yourself with like-minded and uplifting people, it's also important to be independent. Try incorporating "me time" into your schedule; this looks different for everyone. Whether you meditate for 30 minutes a day, or if you have one day out of the week that you treat yourself to a meal, a movie or a simple stroll in the park, do something that gives you time to reflect, because it's very easy to just go through the motions. You must live in the moment!

I've learned that any time people encounter a new challenge or have to adopt a new lifestyle they search for belonging, which is normal. Just make sure that you don't lose your identity. No one wants to be the one that doesn't have a best friend, especially when you look around and see that your classmates already have established groups of friends. It's very easy for us to fall into this trap because we all want to be accepted and loved. When this is your main concern, you risk losing focus of your purpose and goals, as well as your independence. If you feel that you always have to be with people, you'll always have too many voices in your ear and as a result, you'll begin to make decisions based on the judgments of your friends.

This brings me to another point -- everyone who is friendly isn't your friend. In college especially, you'll meet phenomenal people, but you'll also meet bad people. You just have to be able to decipher who is who before you invite them into your life. We're all in the honeymoon stage, so we're all just so happy to meet everyone. However, the excitement can't cloud our judgment; meaning that if there are red flags, take them for face value. As the late Maya Angelou said, "When people show you who they are, believe them." People will show show you if they have your best interests at heart. It's your responsibility to recognize this, and make the decision to keep it moving if they don't, which is why you have to know yourself. Think to yourself, "Would I be friends with this person if I was back home?," "Is this person positive?" or "Am I happy when I'm around this person?"

Some ways that I make sure that I'm staying true to myself are: keeping in touch with family and friends from home, saying positive affirmations (make one that aligns with your spirit) and having memorable/inspirational posters in my room. Last, but certainly not least, I believe that a part of overall happiness is having a relationship with a higher power. You don't have to go to church to do this, but always show gratitude because you are here by design. Everything happens for a reason, and it's outside of your control.

Remember to always choose happiness!