Dear Harlan: I wasn’t worried about college, but it all suddenly hit me. Orientation is this week, and I just don’t feel like I’m ready to take this next step. What can I do to help get rid of these nerves? I’ve already contacted my future roommate and my future music studio, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to meet them. This is terrifying to me. I’m sorry this message is out of nowhere, but I figured this was the best way to go cause you were very helpful to other students. Thank you for helping.
— Freaking Out
Dear Freaking Out: Congrats on feeling something — it means you care. This is all very normal. Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable. Not only is this a huge change for you, but it’s a huge change for everyone else going to college. You aren’t alone. This should help put you at ease. Think about three words this year: “observe,” “explore” and “experience.” That’s the approach. Orientation is a time to observe. While you are on campus, take it all in. Observe all the possibilities. Think about what you want to explore and experience. Seek out places that look interesting. Find people like you who have gone through this process. Look for seniors, juniors and sophomores who can help guide you and be there for you. Go into this with no expectations. Zero. Soak it all up. There will be plenty of time to explore and experience what you want. If you’re feeling brave, you can talk to an orientation leader and ask him or her what was the hardest part about college and how they got through it. People love sharing. Breathe deep, relax and enjoy the experience. Your only job is to show up. Congratulations!