Ziemann: Keep your hobbies

Columnist Megan Ziemann explains the value of keeping some of your high school hobbies in your first year of college.

Megan Ziemann

When I arrived at Iowa State in August of 2017, I vowed to myself I’d be a different person in college. High school was over and so was high school me. It was time to branch out, meet new people, try new things and distance myself from who I was before Iowa State.

I’ve played the trumpet for more than 10 years. I was the quintessential “band kid” in high school — I fit the stereotypes, all my friends were involved in music and I prided myself on being a member of the ensemble.

All that was going to change my freshman year of college. For the first time since the fifth grade, I did not sign up for a music class. There would be no band rehearsals, no music clubs, nothing. 

I would be different.

As the first semester went on, I felt the pang of homesickness most freshmen feel in their first semester of college. I missed my family, I missed my friends and I missed my cat. I began to feel like maybe Iowa State wasn’t the place for me. Maybe I should just pack up and go home. I’ll be happier there, I reassured myself.

And so I did. One weekend in October, I went back home and saw everyone.

But for some reason, the homesickness didn’t go away when I saw my family, my friends and my cat. There was something else going on. Not only was I missing the people I knew from back home, I was missing the part of myself I’d left there. 

I was missing music. At the time, my roommate was a music education major, and I would go with her to Music Hall to practice scales on the piano. 

Well, she practiced, I just kind of sat there and felt gross.

A part of myself was gone, and I hated myself for letting it go. Music wasn’t just a high school Megan thing. It was a Megan thing.

And I needed it back.

By November, I had signed up for a nonaudition concert band course, emailed the director to make sure I had a spot and hauled my trumpet up from my room back home.

By May, I was playing in that concert band, making new trumpet player friends and performing my little heart out. I had even decided to try my luck at becoming a member of the more prestigious audition-only ensemble the upcoming semester. For me, music was so ingrained into my identity I couldn’t let it go. 

By May, I was Megan again.

Yes, going to college means changing. It means making new friends, trying new things and living in a new town. 

It doesn’t mean you have to stop being you.

Taking a class isn’t the only way to keep your hobbies, either. Join a club that focuses on something you love. If that club doesn’t exist, start it. Declare a minor that speaks to your interests. College is more than a transitory period to prepare you for graduate school or industry. It’s time for you to grow.

Don’t let the next four years change who you are at your core. You’re in charge of this experience, and if not doing the thing you love is going to make you sad, DO THE THING YOU LOVE.

I promise you won’t regret it.