Okay, so this post is going to be a little more personal than my usual posts. It is a reflection of my life at Oberlin so far and of course, advice will come with it. I probably won't give you any Yoda-esque words of wisdom or anything, but hopefully, this post will help anybody who just wants to "keep it real" with their Obieland experience. This one is especially for all my athletes out there who want to come to this school. Of course, anybody is welcome to continue reading, but I feel like athletes would specifically benefit the most from what I am about to say. So, this is beyond crazy to me. I am approaching my junior year at Oberlin College. My junior year? I STILL can't believe it. The years seem to fly by on me. With that being said, it is my second to last year of playing football. It has been a long and enjoyable summer for me in the great state of Texas, but I am so ready to be back on Bailey Field with my teammates. There are only two years left for me here, two more years of playing football, and that is it. There is no plan for me to go to the NFL or any semi-pro football team. Once these two years are up, I am walking away from the game forever. Sure, I may be covering it in a newsroom or an office in the near future, but I have no intention on playing the game after these next two years. That means that I have to make the absolute most out of the years I have left in playing this little game I love. College football has always been something I wanted to invest into, and I am proud of myself for making it this far. I just want to finish, you know?
These past two years have been a complete rollercoaster for me. There have been many highs and many lows, but I always found a way to make it through the adversity that faced me. I feel like I am going into this season with more knowledge on the game of football, my coaches, teammates, and Oberlin College than ever before. This knowledge is giving me more confidence to be successful and thrive than ever before. I mean, after all, I am an upperclassman now. It is expected of me to know how this Oberlin athletic experience works. Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
Even if you take away the athletic side of things, college by itself is not an easy place to thrive in. It is very possible to thrive, but it is not easy, especially at Oberlin. This college's academic rigor is no joke, y'all. The stress from school will absolutely eat you alive if you let it. The academic side of college life is the most important side, and it is also the hardest side to deal with in my opinion. Many athletes come to this school and underestimate the academic side of college life, and their GPAs suffer because of it. Yes, I was one of those athletes. Oberlin mostly consists of students who made not just good, but GREAT grades in high school. Because of this, many of these students become a little too comfortable with their intelligence. They become cocky and start to slack off a little once they get to college. This is intensified for athletes, because the workload is so much greater than that of a typical college student at Oberlin, or any school for that matter. Does every student athlete go through this? No, but it is a very common and noticeable trend that occurs in most universities across the country, and Oberlin College is not an exception.
I feel ready for both the academic and athletic sides to this school. The homesickness is still going to be an obstacle that I deal with from time to time, but it has gotten better over the last couple of years. I remember my freshman year and the homesickness that I felt from that. It was TERRIBLE. There were nights when I would consider transferring to a school closer to home because I missed my family, friends, girlfriend, and so many more aspects of my life back home. Ohio was (and still is) in a much different atmosphere than any other place I have lived in. I moved around a lot as a kid, but I would always stay in the same area. The only time I ever moved far away was when I moved from Georgia to Texas in high school, and even that experience felt less drastic than moving to Ohio. At least I was still in the "Dirty South," you know? Oberlin, man... It is DIFFERENT. It has a small-town, quirky kind of feel to it and I wasn't used to that.
I wasn't used to the people, either. It took me a minute to realize at first, but there are so many people with different values and upbringings at this school. I was definitely open-minded about it, as long as I wasn't being disrespected or anything. However, it did take some adjustment. I had to learn how to communicate differently around different crowds of people. The way I speak to my teammates is not the way I speak to my classroom peers. Sure, I was already good at switching my language in academic and professional settings, but Oberlin allowed me to become even better at it. The best part about this is that I am still myself at the end of the day. I never altered my core being. I just learned how to communicate at an even more effective level.
That's another thing about college that I didn't realize when I was going into it: You learn a lot more outside of the classroom than you learn inside of one. The life lessons come from the experiences you grow through. Yes, GROW through. It's like the old saying, "You grow through what you go through." My college life has not been easy, but sheesh, it has been rewarding because of the growth I have endured so far. I am looking forward to this football season and this school year. I really am. I believe in myself more than ever before, and I have never felt that way going into a collegiate school year before. To all of my current and future Obies out there, I believe in you as well. You got this!