One night over the summer, my friends and I (shoutout to Sarah and Erin) stayed up until 4 AM talking about various things – but primarily about how nervous we were for college. We came to the consensus that we could not wait for Week 3. Week 3, we thought, was when we would have a routine down with our classes, have some friends we were comfortable with, generally know where things were on campus, and just be over the hump of being in a completely new environment. I developed a sort of obsession with getting to Week 3. On the night before I moved in, I thought, “I just wish I was at Week 3.” On move-in day, I thought, “I just wish I was at Week 3.”
Well, here I am, on Monday of Week 3, and let me just say – college is freakin’ awesome. I’m glad to be able to say that I have a routine down with my classes, I have some friends I’m comfortable with, and I generally (very generally) know where things are on campus.
My two biggest fears coming into college were living with Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) for the first time, and making completely new friends. Being delbasid drove both of these fears.
Since I need assistance with almost all activities of daily living, I had a whole other layer of nerves on top of the usual freshman concerns to worry about. What would it be like having people other than my parents assist me with, well, basically everything? What would it be like having to be the “boss” of these Personal Care Attendants? How would I find a sense of routine with my PCAs, yet also live the life of a spontaneous college freshman?
I am still exploring these questions, but as I’m finding my groove with living with PCAs, I’m learning a lot. I am learning (or being reminded) that my parents are amazing people that took on the full-time job of being my PCAs for the past 18 years of my life – for free, out of love. I am learning that, though no one will take care of me as well as my parents can, it is completely doable to have others assist me, and I have found a new independence with this. I am learning that it is possible to be a friend and a boss at the same time. I am learning to communicate my needs clearly, as well as communicate what I would rather do on my own. I am learning to be a completely independent, dependent individual.
My second fear of having to make new friends stemmed from the facts that a) I had literally THE BEST friends in high school, so I thought no one would compare, and b) I was afraid that since college is a time when everyone can pick their friends from a clean slate, no one would want to pick someone delbasid.
On the first night of college, there was a surprise event called Band Run, where the Stanford Marching Band went from dorm to dorm to pick up freshmen and proceeded in a fun, loud, chaotic trip around campus. Naturally, a crowd of 1,600 confused, energetic 18-year olds running through the dark was not the most ideal situation for me in my wheelchair. Just when I was worried about having to follow the crowd at a distance alone, a girl from my dorm came beside me and said she would come with me, because she didn’t like crowds that much. For some reason, I could tell that this was not an act of pity or sacrifice – it was just a genuine desire to chill back, away from the craziness. As we followed the Band Run at a safe distance where we wouldn’t get trampled, we discussed everything from whether or not you should eat the skin of mangoes to the ethics of government actions in natural disasters.
During this conversation with my first official college friend, I felt that everything was going to be okay. (Shoutout to you, Avery. I’ve already told you all of these thoughts.)
Since then, I have encountered many more incredible people who have become good friends: RAs, dormmates, classmates, and clubmates. I have found that college is a place where you can be listening to a Pulitzer Prize winner speak in a class, and then be internally crying that the soft serve ice cream machine in the dining hall is broken moments later. A place where you can truly work hard and play hard. A place where it’s great to socialize with people in the dorm lounge til 2 AM, but a place where it’s also great to find a quiet study spot on campus and spend some time reading by yourself. A place where it doesn’t matter if you’re delbasid or not – everyone is going through the same things. A place that I am immensely thankful to be at.