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Kelleen Cullison

Oh, the Places You'll Go, the People You'll Know

by Kelleen Cullison | Feb 03, 2017

In my last blog post on the Women’s March on Washington, I focused on how Manchester helps you branch out into the world. I think even as a student outside of my writing that’s something I focus on. If I’m feeling homesick or lonely, I remind myself that this is a temporary situation, and that I should enjoy it while I can because I won’t be a MU Spartan forever. But today that wasn’t the case.

I always feel a bit down when I return to campus from a stay at home. It weighs on me, all these new relationships and responsibilities I have here that don’t exist a home, a place so familiar with friends I’ve known for so long, I don’t have to try when I’m around them. It’s just natural. This week was no exception, especially since it’s the first week of the semester. It’s the first time I’ve faced such huge changes here without the shiny newness and eagerness of someone fresh off the bus. It’s been a challenging week, and it’s caused me to face some of my biggest insecurities. Am I smart enough to do this? Am I friendly enough to talk to new people? Can I keep my anxiousness in check with so much change all over the place?

On top of everything else it seemed, today was the Activities Fair, and as Vice President of Feminist Student Union (yes, shameless advertising, you should totally come to our meetings), I needed to help run the booth. I had what seemed like a mountain of homework, and felt the urge to finish it all in one sitting. That’s the way I get when I’m anxious. I just push my way through life, getting everything done, unwilling to be distracted by anything. Unfortunately, the Activities Fair was a distraction I couldn’t ignore.

I arrived above the Jo Young Switzer center 10 minutes early, walking briskly with a no nonsense look on my face. There were people everywhere, moving around, trying to get things done, and I jumped right in. As a first year, I wasn’t sure how many people would come to the Spring Activities Fair, since it wasn’t required for first years, but I sat down dutifully, and prepared myself to talk to strangers that I really just didn’t feel up for. (Anyone trying to manage anxiety knows that social anxiety grows exponentially with other forms of anxiety). All I had to do was try not to scare them off with my totally pleasant demeanor.

I did what I normally find myself doing; sucking it up and trying to deal the best I can.

It was then I realized that there really weren’t that many strangers around me. In fact, I recognized most of the people coming through the doors, and many I didn’t knew the people around me, my friends. FSU table was situated with many of the other social justice clubs, and so my fellow club members and friends were everywhere. I wasn’t surrounded by strangers. In fact, considering the amount of people who knew all of these friends, I’m not sure there was a true stranger in the room.

It wasn’t until after the fact, back in my dorm, that it was the first time on campus I’d felt like I belonged, without trying. These people shared my interests, my friendship, and at the very least my school. I’ve realized that this is what Manchester means when they talk about the community here. Even if you don’t know someone, someone you know knows that someone, and chances are, they’re really kind, and open to talk to you as well.

No college or university has the perfect formula for everyone to have the time of their lives and feel totally at home, but I think today Manchester came pretty close. Instead of feeling like an outsider trying to be a part of the crowd, today I felt like a Spartan.

So my advice is to join a club, or two, or seven. Don’t be crazy involved, try find one you love and help it become better, be its driving force. It’s not just a link to other people in that club, but to their friends, and to their friends, and so on. If you do that, I guarantee, there’s one friend on campus for you, at least one. At Manchester, it’s impossible to feel completely alone.

As for me, I’m still feeling a bit blue. I miss my schnauzer and my boyfriend and my best friend. But there are things worthwhile here as well, things worth missing when I go home. Today has reminded me of that.

Kelleen Cullison ’20 is pursuing an English major and minors in Journalism and Peace Studies. She hopes to work as an editor for a publishing company, and hopes to help current and prospective Manchester students avoid the mistakes she is currently making.

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