My time at Birmingham-Southern College has been one of the most important experiences of my life.
I know it’s cliché to say that, but I revel in the fact that I’ve changed and grown extensively over these, almost, three years on this campus.
All throughout my life, I have been scared and mute. I know people still see me as quiet. But if they only knew how terrifyingly quiet I was in high school, they would categorize me as fairly outgoing now.
I’ve been scared of living and scared of people for most of my life, but, at this school, I learned to let go of that and have grown comfortably into who I want to be.
If I somehow became a scientific genius overnight and went back to tell freshman Callie all that she has accomplished so far, I would be able to tell her a lot. I would tell her that she has learned amazing things about film, journalism, and social matters that are very important to me now, AND that she planned on studying abroad in Japan during the fall semester of her senior year. She would be ecstatic about all this, sure, but, more importantly, she probably would tell me that she truly did not imagine that for herself at the time.
When I came to BSC my freshman year, I hated it. I hated that I couldn’t find friends who were as nerdy as me, I hated having to share a room with someone, and I didn’t want to be away from my boyfriend.
All in all, I wasn’t ready to grow up.
I tried everything to convince my parents to let me transfer to another school. I tried to get my boyfriend to transfer to BSC. I was doing everything I could besides accept my existence on this campus and try to make the best of it.
When I look back at my first year in college, I am sincerely ashamed and annoyed with myself, but I don’t think I would have grown into who I am now if I didn’t struggle as much as I did.
In order to grow up, I know the most important decision I made was breaking up with my significant other the summer before my sophomore year. I broke up with him more than once, but I know now that the reason for that was because of my struggle to let that part of myself go. But I did. I let go.
It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my early life; not necessarily because I loved him so much–it’s harsh, I know, but because I loved what came along with him.
He was my link to my past self. Maybe I subconsciously knew that if I said goodbye to him, I would be saying goodbye to the version of myself I was trying so hard to hold on to. I didn’t really like that version of me though, and I guess I knew that in order to grow from that, I would need to let go of him in the process.
I wish never to know where I would be and who I would be if I hadn’t made the decision to end things with him and try to face life, and myself, alone. I definitely would not be as happy as I am today, and I would not have experienced all that I have since then.
And with that, I began my sophomore year of college exploring the entities of who I could be.
Looking back to my sophomore year, I know now that I was very insecure about myself. Despite that, I was newly discovering the importance of things like film studies, journalism, racial matters, LGBTQ+ matters, and so much more. I grew into a more accepting and knowledgeable person that, to this day, still strives to educate myself in these areas and many others.
During sophomore year, I found myself single after having gone from one relationship to another with only a few months separating the experiences of those two relationships. I was desperately trying to find someone to be with during my sophomore year. When I told my friend, Grace, about my dating dilemmas during that time, she always encouragingly told me I could learn to be alone. It took me a lot of missteps to comfortably be okay with that, but I am now. I know I won’t be alone forever, so I appreciate this time to myself. It gives me the opportunity to fully learn how to love and accept myself before I ask someone to love and accept me.
As I am approaching the second half of my junior year, I have grown into more of an adult, and I’ve grown into more of a woman. I have faced my mental health head on and have improved significantly in that area over the course of this fall semester. I don’t think I would be where I am now if I didn’t take the initiative to make myself better. It took a lot of courage, I have to say, to see that I had a problem, but, more importantly, that there was a better solution to that problem than what my mind was telling me. I am happy now. I am calm, comfortable, and things are put in a better perspective than they have at any other hard point in my life.
And after many considerations and many steps, I have fully committed myself to studying abroad next fall in Japan. This will surely be a life-changing experience, and I am very thrilled to be facing this adventure by myself, as I am expecting it to help me grow into a more independent being. It has already proven to be full of obstacles, even in the process of getting to go there, (like the fact that I might not be permitted to take the medicine I am taking now to better my mental health while I am in Japan for four months), but that’s part of it and, surely, it has helped me grow and prepare for my time there.
I don’t think this opportunity and many of the others I’ve experienced in college would have been possible if not for the people that embody BSC. I could have ended up transferring, as I desperately wanted to, back in my freshman year, but that would have meant I was willing to run away from an experience that ultimately changed me for the better. I do love this school, even though it has its flaws, but at least in its imperfection, it has taught me to face myself and be willing to make a fool of myself in order to mature and grow from all that.
College has been such an amazing and life-changing experience. I have met so many great people who have, for better or worse, taught me to grow as an individual.
I believe at BSC, we embrace who we are, and, from my experience, we learn that people are eccentric in every way, shape, or form and that it should be that way, as it keeps us unified as a student and faculty body.
I have learned more and more on this campus that I should be authentic and truly identify as myself. It is not easy, of course, and I have fallen down many times in the process and will keep falling, but this college experience has taught me that it isn’t the end for me, and I can always improve to be a better version of myself.
If you are a girl who is about to be in college, I would encourage you to let yourself grow over your college years. Don’t be discouraged and ashamed of the trials and errors that are involved in that process. We all do stupid things often, but, as long as you are willing to accept those stupid things and learn from them, then it is okay. Just don’t murder anybody, okay? If you do college right, you will be proud of yourself in the end.