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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Slade: It’s probably less scary than you think

Jacob Rice
Ella Slade, Diversity Editor

My expectations for college and what college turned out to be, for me, exist as a dichotomy, two polar opposite ends of a spectrum. Maybe it’s different for you, and it very well could be, but it’s safe to say I had no idea what the college experience would have in store for me.

The vast and extensive possibilities may seem daunting at first. During my first try at college, the overwhelmingness of it all prompted a bout of extreme anxiety and an ensuing medical withdrawal. I dropped out of the University of Iowa in 2019.

I came back the right way, though. Go Cyclones!

Until recently, I haven’t seen myself as an overly ambitious person. I didn’t ride a roller coaster until my senior year of high school. I wasn’t someone who jumped headfirst into college right away; I didn’t even know what I wanted to major in.

I had to ease into getting involved. It can be intimidating to see your seemingly braver peers audition for fashion shows and become club presidents when you feel it takes all the courage you can muster to attend a meeting for the first time.

College has taught me to take things at a pace that fits me, and that pace is uniquely my own. If I didn’t give myself the time to get comfortable, to try again at something that at first seemed so overwhelming, I may have crashed.

Slowly but surely, I began feeling as though I owed it to myself to make college worthwhile.

I started by going to the library.

I just wanted to FEEL like a college student, to embrace the ritual of pouring the contents of my backpack out onto the plastic desk, the aesthetic of pens and gum and snack wrappers and a chunky spiral notebook.

As I gained confidence navigating campus, I began to feel more comfortable with the idea of settling down at Iowa State. I let myself take small steps, and even when they felt microscopic, I saw that the path in front of me was flexible, accommodating.

The point of all this is to say I didn’t come to college knowing I would end up where I am now. Even the folks who begin their five-year plan at age 18 get rerouted. I didn’t know I wanted to be a journalist until nearly three years into my undergraduate degree, but I had learned the confidence to try.

I met people along the way who believed in me, and I am so incredibly thankful for them. After a thousand domino effects and trials and errors, I found my place on a college campus, something that at one point seemed impossible.

If I could talk to my sophomore-year-of-college self, I would commend her for being patient. She had no idea she’d switch her major to journalism or run for vice president of the student body or join a band and play at the Maintenance Shop or become an editor at the Daily. She was just focused on becoming comfortable at Parks Library.

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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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  • C

    Cliff Phillips | May 8, 2024 at 10:34 pm

    Best read of the day!
    I personally love that its hinge point is the line: “I started by going to the library.”
    As a college teacher, I gravitate to the fact that you have such an important perspective on your experience as a college student. It is one that is clearly central to you, but it also of course prompts other students to embrace the same opportunity to reflect on their own college experience.
    Such reflection is meaningful So, too, ought college be! Great to hear it sung!

  • N

    Nancy Miller | May 8, 2024 at 6:07 pm

    I cant wait to see what you are going to accomplish! I have some investigative journalism ideas for you!

  • S

    Sherry Slade | May 8, 2024 at 2:55 pm

    Ella: You are an excellent writer. Your articles are so interesting and easy to read. I look forward to following your career as a journalist.