Finding a Voice In College

I will never be more stressed than I was at college orientation. At least, that’s what I thought. Then came the struggle to find roommates, the butterflies before my first party, trying to find the perfect exam review group/study spot, and every time I forgot the name of someone I met at orientation. You know what’s difficult? Picking a single interesting thing about yourself to rattle off in every class on the first day. This one statement will be your first impression on the class, so you spend the whole time everyone else is talking to select the perfect fun-fact. Oops, the girl in front of you just stole your fact.

I get it; freshman year is hard. I’m a Senior now, and I know from experience that each year has its own individual challenges and stress-factors. Be it your first year or your last, at a giant university or a college of 1,600 kids, we all have one thing in common. Every college student is looking for somewhere to belong. (And also more sleep, but that’s a little more difficult to find.) I was lucky enough to find an amazing group of friends in my first week of school, but still felt like I didn’t know my place on the campus as a whole.

In my sophomore year of college, I discovered Yik Yak, at probably the best and worst time. In a moment of exam-studying procrastination, a friend showed me the feed from our school- genuine thoughts, without names or profiles. At the time, because everyone had the same sleep-deprived, 1AM, “I hate exams/ why am I in college” mindset, all the posts sent in from my fellow students revolved around the stress they were experiencing. They got it. People understood what I was going through, and I had never before seen such a literal expression of the college mindset. Yik Yak was fascinating, and in less than 20 minutes I was hooked, had texted all my friends, and posted four yaks of my own.

Since that magical moment, I have seen my school’s presence on the app grow tremendously. My “herd” has had some rocky moments, but we’ve moved past them to become stronger than ever. I know at any point that I can check Yik Yak for info on what’s happening on campus that day, what food specials are worth trekking to the dining hall for, advice and support from my fellow students, or simply a laugh when I need it most.
In the words of Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Granted, I’m no Spiderman (or Spider-Woman), but this wisdom for anonymity still rings true. Everything we say or do has a ripple effect on our environment and those around us. And on Yik Yak, everyone has the chance to be an everyday hero: in the yaks they post, the replies they write, the upvotes they give, the reports they send, and the community they foster. Play your role; make a difference. Ride the yak.