Cassie Lajeunesse, Campus Carrier Editor-in-Chief
I started at Berry knowing no one. I was on my own for the first time, I was 300-something miles from my home in Florida and I was scared. Being scared initiates a fight or flight response, right? My response is always flight.
In my first weeks at Berry, this translated to sitting in my room instead of going to events and eating the food I kept in my room instead of eating by myself in the Dining Hall. To me, being alone by myself is so much better than being alone in a room full of people. That’s the difference between being alone and being lonely.
My first few weeks at Berry, I was pretty lonely. I did my best to talk to people in classes, but I detest small talk, and it’s hard to connect with someone in the few minutes before class starts. By the end of fall semester, I had maybe three people I could really consider friends.
I struggled a lot that first semester, wondering if I was in the right place or the right major. However, a few things got me through it and made me realize that Berry was, indeed, the place I needed to be. But none of these things fell in my lap. I had to leave my room, talk to people and get involved to really find my place in the (often overwhelming) expanse that is Berry College.
The first place I got involved, incidentally, was the newspaper. I was so excited to start working for The Carrier as a freshman, and everyone on staff made me feel so welcome. It was the first place I really felt comfortable at Berry, because I was doing something I loved with other people who shared my passion.
The second place I felt welcomed was Canterbury Club and, by extension, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. I’d been an active member of my church back home so it was important to me to find a group at Berry to continue to develop my faith.
I befriended several upperclassmen members of the group who drove me to church, looked out for me and were instrumental in helping me call Berry home.
Spring semester of my freshman year, my participation in Berry’s choral department increased when I joined Berry Singers and began working as a choral assistant. Again, I was doing something I loved with people who shared my passion, and I at least doubled my earlier number of friends.
Berry College is overflowing with opportunities for involvement. Whether you’re passionate about athletics or art, music or math, the outdoors or origami, Berry has something for you. But you have to go out and find it.
The biggest thing I wish someone had told me when I started at Berry was not to let fear guide my decisions. Don’t avoid people because you’re worried you’ll say the wrong thing, don’t miss out on fun events because you’re scared you won’t enjoy them, and don’t miss out on opportunities because you’re scared to leave your room.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love my alone time, but I’m not lonely anymore. I’ve had amazing opportunities and met so many wonderful people already in my time at Berry. I just had to get involved. I would encourage anyone, incoming students or returning ones, to do the same.