Hi, I’m Connor Lehmacher, a first year at Vanderbilt.
My orientation and the subsequent first weeks of classes were very rough. I was mostly stressed about social engagement. However now, I’m doing great. So, I’d like to reflect on how I made it though and give some advice on what could have been different. Throughout the first couple of weeks, relationships from home and student organizations were critical.
Friends and family: I suppose it’s cliche, but it mattered. Initially, I decided that I’d become fully independent without support. Then, I first called my mom and it was wonderful. That moment let me say, "I can do this." I think maintaining relationships matters critically in life and we should strive for it.
Clubs: I received the advice to attend every organization three times before deciding whether do stay or not. I think this works. Critically, my engagement in Nashville Canterbury Circle depended on several meetings. Because of all my stress, I couldn’t enjoy the first two meetings. It may have also been the organization. Whatever it was I’m glad that I stayed because the third meeting was wonderful and ever since I have enjoyed it plenty. Also, I felt much more justified quitting debate team after four meetings than if I had just left immediately.
New people: At Vanderbilt and maybe at all colleges, everyone is overly-extroverted the first days. I’m sure I answered where I’m from and which dorm was mine more than 30 times. And what does it matter? — Alas. But I asked these questions, too... I think to deal with this I could have known that this can be a coping mechanism when isolation if felt. Furthermore, one can be lonely in a crowd and one can be alone without being lonely. I had always equated the two and that meant that I pushed myself social to my detriment. Eating alone can be wonderful.
Connor Lehmacher is a member of the University Lutheran Church congregation and a native of Clemson, SC.