A little fun fact about me: I am a total true-crime fanatic. I started watching Law & Order and Criminal Minds when I was only about six years old. Any time I go on a road trip, I will listen to hours of the Crime Junkie podcast. It's a slight obsession honestly.
Every single time I leave the house, my mom tells me to be careful. When I was growing up, I would give her an eye roll and hurry out the front door when she would tell me this; however, the older I get (and the more paranoid she gets as she gets older too), the more I understood why she always tells me this.
I was thinking the other day about what I was wanting to write for all of my girls going to college soon, and this topic just kept coming back to me. Sure, it's helpful l to know what to pack and how to decorate your dorm room, but this topic is so much more important, yet, it's really not talked about much.
I think we all are aware of how scary this world can be sometimes. I'm sure most of our parents gave us the same advice when they dropped us off in our dorm rooms: be careful, watch your drink when you're out, and never walk home alone.
BUT I know how easy it can be to think bad things could never actually happen to you, especially if you're from a small town like me. I would hear terrible stories that took place on college campuses, but deep down, I thought I was invincible and safe from all of that. After all, these are supposed to be the four best years of your life, right?
I'm here to tell you, you need to take this stuff seriously. I didn't take it seriously when I first when to college, and I found myself in some sketchy positions some times.
So this isn't your mom giving you advice. This advice from a girl who has been in college for 3 years already and knows some pretty scary situations you can be in and how to prevent them:
1. Don't blow off your feelings.
You guys know that gut feeling you get when something just seems a little off? LEARN TO START LISTENING TO THAT. We don't get those feelings for no reason. It is literally our natural instinct telling us something is wrong. 90% of the true-crime podcasts I listen to involve people who felt like something was wrong but decided to ignore it because they thought they were just being paranoid. You need to do something when you have that gut feeling. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
2. Do not be afraid to be rude.
I'm not here to tell you to slam the door in people's faces, never say thank you, and just be a mean person. BUT, I am giving you permission to be selfish and do what is best for your safety. Let me give you some examples:
If you're walking home from the bar, a party, or the library, and you think someone is following you:
DO: call and ask if someone will come to pick you up or walk you home
DON'T: be afraid that you're being paranoid and don't want the person to think you're jumping to conclusions
If you're on an elevator and someone is looking at you strangely:
DO: hop off at the next stop and wait a minute or two to get back on
DON'T: be scared the person thinks you're rude
If some guy won't leave you alone at the bar and is giving you weird vibes:
DO: grab a guy friend to hang with until the guy leaves you alone
DON'T: keep entertaining him to be nice
Don't be afraid to be selfish. Look out for yourself. A great book to read more about this is The Gift of Fear. I HIGHLY recommend reading it before you head to college or move somewhere new.
3. Don't think you're invincible.
Bad things can happen to anyone anywhere. You need to be aware that these things are REAL and you need to know what to do to keep them from happening to you.
4. Know and use your resources.
College campuses are aware of these crimes, and they provide resources to keep their students safe. Here are a few resources that I've used before and highly recommend:
Your friends (to come pick you up, walk home with you, fake an important phone call, etc.)
University resources (Illinois has an awesome system called safe-rides. Even if you're just walking home from the library late at night, you can get a free ride or have someone come walk with you)
Self-defense accessories (ex: pepper spray, sharp keys)
I know these are things no one wants to think about when heading to college, but they're something you NEED to think about. I wish we lived in a safe world and didn't have to worry about bad things happening, but we don't. Some of these situations will happen to you, and you need to know what to actually do.
I hope y'all make the best out this crazy school year, and as my mom always tells me, be careful!