By Deklin Fitzgerald, Editor-In-Chief
What does it mean to be a dependent?
Before I get into that, I would like to firstly congratulate each and every one of you for your perseverance and persistence. Whether you have enough credits to count as a senior, junior, or sophomore. Here’s to you. Whether you are an incoming freshman, a transfer student, or even a lifelong learner. Here’s to you. I don’t remember much of my early childhood. Imagine the stereotype of a goldfish… memory span of what, five seconds? That is me compared to my childhood. Maybe it was the trauma or simply growing beyond my environment. No matter what, I do remember a consistent theme that radiated from the occasional aunt or uncle. The idea that I was destined for greatness; that I was going to be something more than that little five year old with dreams of exploring space as an astronaut. That I would be better than that eight year old playing cops and robbers with hopes of being a police officer. That as a teen, that my future was brighter than my prayers of making it to adulthood. Because truly… that transition from high school to adulthood, or in my case, college. That transition was not easy.
Before I get into what it means to be a dependent. Let me explain the denotation of ‘dependent’ behind my own connotation. The Merriam Webster Dictionary would classify the noun ‘dependent’ to denote “a person who relies on another for support”, meanwhile my own connotation embodies someone who goes out on a limb in search of something greater. Meaning your growth… your success… no matter the topic, it is dependent on what comes next. Whether it is you finishing higher academics, moving cross country, or simply picking yourself up after being shoved over. What happens next is dependent on your corresponding choices.
Taking risks should be the next big thing. Have an epiphany that someone as great as you should never be shackled down by the burdens of what could have been. Taking a risk should be the next big thing, and when you realize that there is more than a simple nine to five. Then… and only then, will you realize… that taking a risk is the next big thing.
For better or for worse, leaving behind the home you were familiar with to experience something new. Whether it be college, a new job, or even to a land gone but not forgotten. No matter the case, it can be tough to say goodbye to the life you had spent time creating for yourself.
Approximately a year ago, I was in your shoes. A meek but eager freshman with a new perspective on life. Graduating high school was a significant milestone but I wasn’t happy. All of the photos posted on facebook by my blood related relatives, featured me with a fake smile. Yeah, I was happy to graduate but I wasn’t happy. I had graduated high school, except… I had to continue to fight for my survival until I could say that I escaped an environment that was only going to hold lasting negative effects on me. A year ago I was ambitious and ready to challenge the authority of the world, in order to find my place on the totem pole. In a conversation I held with an advisor the other day, I explained that although this has been one of the best years of my life, it has also been one of the worst. I fell, but I stood up over and over again until I learned the point of the lesson.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that being an adult is any easier. Truly? It isn’t, it is just as tiring and difficult. However college, as a freshman, is as difficult as it needs to be in order for you, the subject, to ponder and grow on the steps that brought you to this moment. Where you are reading this, and ultimately pondering your own life to date.
I won’t pretend to act like I know you, or what you have gone through. In actuality, we aren’t so different after all. Different life stories and experiences, but we all ended up here. Coincidence?
So whether you are a supporter of this paper, an alumni wanting to see the latest scoop, or simply a continuing, transfer, or new enrolled student. This university wants to see you succeed, I want to see you succeed. There are resources in place to help you, to help me, to help us acclimate into a new environment.
- Being enrolled gives you access to student support groups such as TRIO, JMG, ROCC,
- Being enrolled gives you access to academic support systems from Disability Service Center, The Office of Advising, the ability to utilize libraries from across the State of Maine.
- Being enrolled gives you access to resources to better help you in financial difficulties, such as The Campus Food Pantry, The Career and Employment Hub, even The Office of Advising.
So whether you are traveling a mile the road or you traveled across the country, or even the world in order to attend this Institution and gain an academic background from USM. I want you to know that you aren’t alone here. There is a family waiting to be found, there are friends waiting to be made, there are memories waiting to be forged from the blood, sweat, and tears of your relenting perseverance and determination to find growth and success in one format or another. If you were to ask me a year ago where I stood friend and family wise in college. I would have said that I have family back home and I have friends here. However, and what I realized through my own trials and tribulations is that I don’t have a family back home. I have family here. I have found family in The Free Press, I have found family in my friend group, I have found family by being a part of this community. A community that wants you to succeed.
If there is one piece of advice I could give anyone, specifically the incoming freshman students. It is that the road ahead isn’t the same for everyone. There will be days that you feel like crap and want to throw in the towel and give up. There will be days where you feel like you are truly on top of the world. There will be days where you aren’t sure about what to do next, all you know is that you are currently safe. I want you to remember that your journey to growth and success will be vastly different then that of mine or your friends. Truly… don’t hesitate to put yourself out there, because the worst that can happen is you fall down, and the best is you stand right back up and dust yourself off.