If you’re reading this, it’s ok to start over.
Starting over can be a little thing, like erasing a really long statistics problem that you’re too confused to continue, or throwing out an essay that you’ve decided just isn’t working. But starting over can also be big.
I expected to start over when I came to college, and I was pretty excited. Moving eleven hours away to a completely new state and life was exactly what I wanted. I wanted new classes, new activities, and new friends. What I didn’t expect was the amount of times I’ve had to start over within this first semester.
I started over when I got my first history essay back - it was a C, a grade that I had truly never seen on an essay before. I called my mom crying because I thought I didn’t deserve to be at UVA. After talking to her and talking to my professor the next day, I realized that the way I had been writing my essays before wasn’t working - I had to start over and learn how to write again. But more than that, I learned that I still deserved to be at UVA even if I wasn’t making the grades I was used to making. My grades aren’t what define me and my place here.
I started over when I realized that eating meals by myself is not the end of the world. Lunchtime in high school was social hour, complete with a full table of the people I had grown up with. Here, lunchtime is time for me to do work. Sure, I’ll occasionally grab lunch with someone. Those times are really special now. On most weekdays though, I’ve found myself enjoying that alone time.
I started over when I learned the Good Old Song. I grew up with the fight songs and cheers of another university, and it was really hard to leave those traditions behind. But the first time I was able to sing the Good Old Song with friends at a football game, I realized that Scott Stadium was the right stadium for me, not surrounded by the same people I spent high school with.
My biggest moment of starting over came after Thanksgiving break. It was my least expected one, too. Over break, I had to let go of someone really special to me. It was a new kind of hurt for me, because it came out of nowhere and I had never gone through that kind of thing before. When I came back to UVA, though, my heart was fully in Charlottesville for the first time.
Whether it’s a friendship that you need to let go of, or a new club you want to join, let yourself press the “restart” button on your life from time to time. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, or a super dramatic moment. Starting over is a healthy because it allows you to appreciate the people and things around you more. If you’re struggling with a mental illness or just going through a period where you don’t feel quite yourself, starting over can be so hard. Let the people around you help, whether it be friends, family, or one of the many resources around grounds. We all have dark times and making changes (big or small) is one of the only ways to get out of them.
If you’re reading this, I hope you find ways to restart, whether it’s a sentence in an essay or a new season of life.
Maddie Daniel, University of Virginia '21