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Ciara Knisely

Dear Incoming Students

by Ciara Knisely | Aug 04, 2017

Dear incoming students,

People come to Manchester from all over the world, traveling hours upon hours. In general, it’s common for students to go to college hours away from home. I am not one of those people. I grew up in the same house for most of my life, and then I committed to a college just thirty minutes from home.

Despite that, I can say that the Manchester experience is unique, even for me, as someone who’s been stuck in rural Indiana most of her life (and for some reason didn’t take the chance to split when she could’ve). It will probably not be how you’re expecting it to be, but I know how terrifying it can be to leave home and move all of your personal belongings into a small room that you share with a stranger, then be ushered into classrooms, large and small, full of even more strangers. Then you get that 8-page syllabus handed to you, and you suddenly feel as though you immediately need a hug from your mom.

Luckily, when you see other students walking around campus, chances are that they’re either feeling exactly how you are, or they have in the past. One great thing that you don’t have to worry about is being made fun of for being a first-year, like the upperclassmen did in high school. Instead, it doesn’t matter to anyone that you’re new, or that you finished high school at 16, or that you’ve been homeschooled your whole life. It doesn’t matter, because the minute you come here is the minute you become one of us. That sounds overly sentimental, but it’s still true. I can’t speak for other campuses, or even for every person on this campus, but in general, there is probably nothing that you could possibly do that anyone will judge you for. So don’t be afraid to be afraid, and don’t be afraid to laugh too much at that funny joke or ask every single question that you can think of.

We know how it was to be totally clueless, and honestly, we all still are. But one of the biggest mistakes that you can make when coming to college is to not be genuine. If you’re not, then nothing will be great. Nothing will be special, and nothing will be enjoyable. If someone ends up not liking you, then that’s their loss. Don’t let it bother you; it’s just how life is, and it doesn’t make your presence at Manchester matter any less. This is your chance to live and grow as deeply into yourself as you can. If you feel exhausted, be exhausted. If you feel sad, angry, ecstatic, or bored, just be it. You don’t have to pretend anymore, and if someone here asks you how you are, they truly want to know. The time for answering “I’m good” to every “How are you?” is over, because that’s just not genuine. During my first couple of months here, I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t okay, because I kept answering “I’m good” until I believed it. Then one day I was sitting down with my First-Year Seminar professor, Dr. Planer, and when he asked me how I was I just burst into tears and had no idea why, but he helped me figure it out. That was when I decided to stop being afraid of being vulnerable. Be unapologetically you, and feel your feelings as truly as you want to.

Hopefully, you will learn a lot while you’re here, but I personally hope that you learn how to be the you that you want to be, the you that you need to be. Learn about yourself, learn about what you believe in, learn about things your mind has never even conceptualized. Letting myself be open to people has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and I’m still not good at it. But the beginning is always slow, and it starts now. It begins with you and whatever you decide to do, but trust me: being yourself is the best path you can take. 

CiaraKnisely
Ciara Knisely ’18 is an English-Creative Writing major and Journalism minor, and hopes to continue her writing career in the future. She spends her time working at the Writing Center on campus and is a Co-Editor of the Oak Leaves newspaper.  

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