True Confessions of a UH Hilo Student

An introduction To News Writer Lexi Smiley, In Her Own Words

News writer: Heidi Featherstone

Lexi Smiley

“I thought moving to an island where I knew no one would give me a new independence that I never had before, but I was wrong.” - Lexi Smiley

“You go to school in Hawai‘i? Wow you must be the luckiest girl in the world,” a typical response from people who know that I go to school on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Don’t get me wrong, when I chose this school, I thought it was going to be nothing but perfect. Little did I know that when I came here, it was going to be far from what I expected.

Life is what you make it, and I learned that putting myself first was going to become a big part of life. My new life motto since moving to this island was that I had three people to worry about: me, myself, and I.

In and of itself, coming from a small town is hard. Everyone knows everything about you and there’s no way of hiding anything from anyone. People tend to know things about you that you didn’t even know about yourself.

I thought moving to an island where I knew no one would give me a new independence that I never had before, but I was wrong.

Hilo is the definition of a small town. During my freshman year, you could say I struggled - I struggled a lot. All I wanted to do was fit in; I wanted to start over fresh and I wanted to be the happiest I had ever been. I had grown up my whole life having a best friend, and when I came out here, I didn’t have that. I had acquaintances, but I was looking for that special person that I could always count on to be there for me no matter what. I was searching for my person.

My first year in Hilo was really hard. I became a person I told myself I would never become; I found myself in the middle of the crowd instead of being the leader I had been my whole life. I felt incredibly depressed, and I wanted nothing more than to go home. I experienced island fever and felt more alone than I had ever felt my whole life.

Fortunately, I was raised to never quit once I started something. After sitting around and feeling sorry for myself, I decided that if I was going to stay here for three more years, I needed a way to find peace with the island. I stopped looking for that person, and became my own person. I started getting up early and going to the beach by myself. I started working out. I started being the best friend that I could be to everyone around me. I started becoming a better me, and I started to fall in love with this island.

If you open up yourself to this place, it will open up to you. It has so much more to offer than you think, and it has a way of helping you to find the person you want to be. For my first article, I decided to bring this knowledge to light and share it with others. I know a lot of people that first go to school here struggle with the same thing that I did.

Finding yourself in college is hard, but finding yourself in college on an island when you feel all alone, is almost unbearable. My advice for those who feel out of place is to do what I did: worry about yourself, and put yourself first. Go to the beach and just soak up the sun and listen to the waves. Drive down the road and look at the palm trees, and when it starts to rain - like it always does - go dance in it. Not many people get the opportunity to live in Hawai‘i, so live it up while you can. Learn to love yourself, and the rest will follow.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.