When I came to Biola it was my first time being the “new student” at a school. I knew I was going to feel different coming here because of all my BROWN—the demographics were a little different than I was used to. I knew that, though I was going to feel different, I was ready to embrace that and find other things that I had in common with people

I remember moving into my dorm room and being super excited to go to my first floor meeting. I remember getting there and immediately noticing that everyone was NOT brown! I did not really know what to make of this obvious difference that I noticed between myself and everyone else.

Going around in the greeting circle and introducing ourselves made the differences seem even more stark. Most of them said things like, “My parents are pastors, missionaries, Biola alumni/college grads, I grew up in church, I was homeschooled.”

I…had none of that.

However, that semester I ended up making friends that I was able to connect with really well, and they definitely got me through my first year as a first generation college student. At the same time, it felt weird knowing that I had still never shown my true self to those people. What is my true self? I’m never not laughing at something, I’m always first in line to make a fool out of myself, everything is funny, I’m totally fine with getting 2 hours of sleep if it means I can have a good time with friends, I love being spontaneous, and did I mention that EVERYTHING is funny to me?

Starting my second year at Biola a lot of things changed. I became way more outgoing, I loved community, I loved being inclusive, and being with people every chance I got. I ended up making friends that I am truly able to now call best friends—even brothers and sisters. I am still making friends now and don’t plan on cutting off that list anytime soon!

Tony and Friends at the Beach for his 21st Birthday
My friend Lance and I, focusing

(Some friends and I on my 21st birthday.) (My friend Lance and I, focusing.)

My friend John and I, staring

(My friend John and I, staring.)

I came to realize that I was in such a hurry to make friends that I did not realize sometimes finding people who you can be 100% you with can take time. “For-life” friendships do not always happen overnight, but sometimes they do too! It seems like the strongest friendships I’ve made happened without me even knowing it. They just happened with time. I found friends who I can be happy, sa, ticked off, and delirious with at 3am. I found friends who like to eat bean and cheese burritos at 2 am—even with 9 am classes the next morning! I found friends who want to go skate, play music, prank each other, laugh at me, and friends who I can laugh at.

David and I on a photography trip.

(My friend David and I on a photography trip.)

Going into your freshman year of college, do not be afraid to be yourself. You never know who you will see yourself in the most unless you are being yourself! Although, if you are anything like me you’d want to slap me for saying that. It is not always easy to be yourself. Sometimes that takes a lot of time. That’s okay though, even though it feels like it is taking forever to happen, it will happen and you will have your people. Your dudes. Your girls. Your HOMIES!