There are points in life when you feel the ground shift beneath your feet, no longer knowing exactly where you stand or what your place is in the world. Dozens of people told me what a huge change was coming when I graduated from high school. They said nothing would be the same and that I was entering a new phase in my life. To me, graduation felt like business as usual, just another ceremony to sit through. I didn't feel the ground shifting; not really.

I expected new student orientation to be the same, a ton of information but nothing really important. I sat through speeches and lectures, participated in icebreakers and games, just waiting for it all to end so I could register for my classes and go home.

When we finally sat down to register, I felt confident. I knew what classes I wanted and when I wanted to take them. But then this class was full, this other class wasn't offered at the time I needed it, two of my classes interfered with each other. I felt the air start to leave my body. Panic rolled through my stomach as I stared at the computer screen. I wasn't ready for this. I wasn't ready to have my life in my own hands. 

After almost two hours, I was finally able to get into the classes I needed - not all the ones I wanted or when I wanted to take them, but I had a plan and a schedule. As I walked out the doors and around the campus, the panicky feeling returned. I walked these grounds before with my family, just before my senior year in high school. We sat by the Duck Pond and talked about what it would be like to be a student here. We walked between buildings and wondered which classrooms I would be learning in. My dad told me that I would be here in no time. 

University of New Mexico freshman Waverly Mathis (left), along with another student, attend new student orientation.

Suddenly, all that information that was thrown at me over the last two days didn't seem so insignificant. Instructors became helpers, and the resources they passed out were now lifesavers. I had a better appreciation for my parents and my high school teachers. Standing outside of the SUB, my mother asked, "You ready?"

I looked down at my feet. My white flip-flops hadn't moved an inch, but it was then I knew – the ground had shifted. Whether I was ready or not, things were about to change drastically.

"Yeah mom, I'm ready."