Simply Complicated

Going into my senior year at Bryant University, I feel like a different person. My years at Bryant have taught me a handful of lessons that I will forever live by.


In the beginning of my junior year of high school, I made the decision to commit to Bryant University and play Division 1 volleyball. I remember feeling rushed and overwhelmed thinking about my college career. My future coach was waiting on my decision and my dad was loading on the pressure.  All I could think to myself is what if….”what if I make the wrong decision..what if there is a better fit for me out there.” With a sense of urgency coming from my dad, I realized that I did not have much of a choice. He would not let this opportunity slip by, and that feeling of hesitation I had took a back seat. I told my coach the decision and soon after, I signed the national letter of intent. Immediately after committing to play at Bryant, there was a sense of regret. Was I excited to go off by myself and become independent? Of course. Did I think Bryant was the right fit for me at that time? No, not at all.

By the time senior year of high school came around, all of my friends began to pick their college of choice. The Instagram posts came piling in. Pictures of all the different universities my classmates were going to attend. Watching my friends become so excited about the school they picked should have only made me happy for them, but for some reason it only made me feel jealous and upset.

Approaching that summer, my stress and anxiety levels were at an all-time high. All of the “what ifs” came rushing back into my head and I began thinking of ways I could transfer, trying to give myself some sort of a safety net.

As a freshman walking into my first day of preseason, little did I know Bryant had in store for me the best four years of my life.

My college experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, and supplied me with crucial life lessons.


#1 The grass ISN’T always greener on the other side.

Up until Bryant, I always made sure to have a handful of options. Options can be a blessing and a curse. They provide you with opportunity and the chance to never settle for less. However, options can cause you to overthink and possibly make a decision you weren’t ready to make. No matter what decision I’d make I would always go searching for the next best thing. At first, I thought this was a good quality to have, to never settle, however, I have learned that you can’t always be greedy.

In high school, no one truly knows what they want and having to juggle this major decision as a junior of where to attend college can be overwhelming. What I did not realize at the time was that my friends were probably even more stressed applying to dozens of schools, where I just had to apply to one. I am thankful for the opportunity to have committed to Bryant my junior year and my few years at Bryant have made me realize this school was the perfect fit for me.

#2 Everything happens for a reason

One of the first challenges I faced at Bryant was my decision to either play through the season with my knee injury or to get knee surgery that would take up to almost 8 months to recover. Once again, all of the “what ifs” filled up my head…” what if my knee is never the same after surgery” … “what if I play through the pain and can never prove myself to my team.” I knew I was going to miss my whole freshman season and watch from the sidelines

Looking back, I wish I had known the only alternative was to get the surgery. I wasted so much time and effort stressing about all the small factors that did not even matter. From this experience, I’ve become both mentally and physically stronger as a person. Having to red shirt my freshman year was the best thing that could have happened to me. It has given me an extra year of eligibility at Bryant, and the opportunity to pursue my master’s degree while getting to play my last year of volleyball at this university with all of my teammates.

#3 Just go with the flow and things will fall into place

I am a big believer in not forcing situations. I would be the first to go after something that I want, but if it doesn’t work out the way I had planned, I don’t dwell on it, I move forward.  This plays well into volleyball, if I make a mistake I am not going to continue to think about the mistake I made because that’s something I can’t change. I’ve learned to pick myself up and be ready for the next play just as I do in life situations.


#4 Make the best out of any situation

There have been many times in my life where I have been put into situations that I wanted no part of. A couple of them being my knee surgery and my decision to attend Bryant. When I found out I had to go through with the surgery, the only thoughts running through my head were if I should continue to play volleyball or just call it quits. What I should have been thinking when the doctor first had told me, was ways to come back stronger as a player and that is exactly what I did. I did my 8 months of rehab and recovery and came back as a sophomore stronger than ever. If I go into every situation with an open mind, my experience will 100% always turn out positive.

Worrying so much about the choice I made to attend Bryant, only made me a stressed out high school kid. I should have accepted the great opportunity I had in front of me, and figured out how to make the best out of my time at Bryant rather than thinking about ways to transfer.

Each one of these challenges I faced has only made me stronger. You may not even notice, but the experiences you go through each day begin to shape who you are as a person. It is important to learn from trial and error and make the best out of any situation you are thrown into. When the “what if’s” start to rush into your mind, don’t let these thoughts overtake you. From my years at Bryant, I learned to stop predicting and assuming how an experience will turn out, and enjoy the journey and the learning opportunities I gained along the way. Next time you are faced with a challenge or a difficult situation, it is important to not dwell on what you can’t change and find ways to push forward and become the better version of yourself.



Julia Flynn

Bryant University Class of 2018

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