By Rachel Yelverton

Winter is coming. The Starbucks cups change, the temperatures drop and freshman girls risk frostbite as they speed-walk in masses between fraternity houses. As the end of my college career rapidly approaches, I can’t help but reminisce about my first winter in Reno.

I owned over 10 pairs of tights in varying neutral shades. My cardigan collection rivaled that of Hillary Clinton, and I refused to leave my dorm room wearing Uggs because they were strictly slippers. I never ceased to look like anything less than a Pinterest princess every single day.

It was freshman year. I was 18, flirty and thriving.

Fast forward three years later, and I can now hardly muster the energy to put on jeans. I know I am not alone in this fashion deterioration; it’s always blatantly obvious who the freshmen and the seniors are at a party. But why does this transition inevitably happen? What is it about these formative years that make bras so uncomfortable and makeup such an overwhelming task?

College is the time for self-actualization. Think back to your freshman year when you were a vulnerable child looking for a sense of security. Think about where you thought you would be at this point in your life. Most of us never imagined that we’d be doing the things we currently do. We have been told our entire lives cliches based on the fact that college is our chance to reinvent ourselves. These are supposedly the best years of our lives, and we make our own destiny.

For so many of us, we think that curling our hair for 8 a.m. lectures will result in acceptance from our peers. I spent the same amount of time getting ready for my first college party as my senior prom. It also didn’t help that my only sources of inspiration regarding collegiate fashion came from “Gossip Girl” and “Degrassi”—not exactly setting realistic standards. I was constantly worried if my hair was doing that weird flippy thing, and I didn’t even realize I was meeting the people that would soon come to mean the world to me.

We all have growing up to do in college, and as I have gotten older I have realized that the extra hour of sleep is way more valuable than contouring my jawline. I have come to realize the relationships you develop in college are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It is time to acknowledge it is not about quantity of friends in college, but quality.

Freshman year is such an overwhelming time and it can be hard to remember where our priorities should fall.  It’s easy to make fun of freshman girls. They wear a lot of makeup and very little clothing. They care too much what others think and attend too many poorly-themed frat parties. They don’t know the difference between a Tom Collins and a Shirley Temple. But they will soon begin to swap their skinny jeans for sweatpants and embrace their North Faces as “going out attire.” By no means am I saying that caring about your appearance makes you immature or desperate, but learning to care more about my friendships and quality library time more than my J. Crew sweater collection has helped the rest of my life truly fall right into place.

Rachel Yelverton studies political science. She can be reached at alexandraschultz@unr.edu and on Twitter    @yelv4prez.