By Kirsten Shaw

Starting your first day of school can be nerve racking. Figuring out where your classes are. Worrying about where to sit for lunch, who to sit next to. The feeling that everyone is looking at you.

This time last year I was packing up my bags and traveling three thousand miles to Sarasota Florida. A  touristy, sea salt air, humid filled swamp. The people there are friendly and seem to have this, “I’m high on life because its summer 24/7 here”, attitude. In preparation for going to Ringling College of Art and Design, I made sure to get friendly and aquatinted with my other peers before hand. Thanks to the power of Facebook, I was able to find the Class of 2019’s page and connect with so many crazy people. Upperclassman, transfer students & freshman just like myself. Seeing them in person didn’t make me feel nervous because I felt like I already knew them. One girl, who turned out to be our dorm halls advisor, told me she was from Half Moon Bay. I remember being happy to know that I wasn’t the only one from the west coast. She talked to me and eased me in to life across the states. I was happy to have met her. We still are friends.

I was excited (as one can imagine) for the start of classes. Slightly nervous. I thought it would be easy just to go to class. Go inside, shake off the nerves, just hold my head up high and confidently walk in. It wasn’t. I made it to my first class just fine but once I saw how intense the work load was I got stressed. I started not showing up to class. My major at the time was illustration.  My dream all of high school was to work for Pixar as a storyboard illustrator. I had my life planned out. I thought that my dream was clear. One day it hit me that I needed to change majors. So I switched it from drawing to photo. Quite the big leap. I ended up switching midway through the third week. That slowed me down because I was far behind everyone else. This made me stressed even more. So, I became unmotivated to show up to class. What was even worse was I reconnected with an old relationship and focused on him more than my studies. Class time turned into me sitting in my dorm room watching Full House DVDs and face-timing him. I was living on cloud 9 thinking I wouldn’t need to work to be successful, this is all I needed. I was wrong.

I ended up becoming homesick so every night before I went to bed, I popped one episode of Full House on to help me fall asleep and forget about being homesick. It helped for the first week. I remember during orientation week you could sign up to volunteer with one of the five organizations they partnered with. I picked working with adults who are mentally challenged. Seeing how they turned something challenging into something exciting made me want to keep pushing for motivation. I loved their stamina despite their hardships. Moral of the story, was I was not motivated. I missed so many classes that I was forced to leave Ringling behind. I miss it still. I kick myself for not stepping up and doing the work.

After Ringling I decided to take a year off. I thought it would be best for me. I practiced taking photography, hung out with my family more, saw old friends and went sightseeing. Picture it as an extra extra long summer vacation, which made me comfortable with being not in school.

Flash forward to today. I’m back at school., deciding to stay a year here locally then hopefully transfer to school in Los Angeles. Now, I feel like this chapter of my life is just the beginning. From Ringling to my current situation I feel like I’ve changed so much. Not only as a student but as something more. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I get nervous when it comes to school but I can’t let that stop me. As for the people I left behind in Florida? Some of them I still talk to. I remember I was tempted to unfriend the people I met there just because I knew I wouldn’t see them for some time, I felt like, what was the point in staying in contact? I realized that those people were incredible and I don’t want to forget any of them, even if I was going to be somewhere else. I think this next part of my life is going to be a challenge, but I’m ready for it. I’m ready for this adventure and to see where it takes me.

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