Jazz Jennings‘ college countdown is on.
This fall, the 18-year-old transgender I Am Jazz star will say goodbye to Florida and hello to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she will begin her freshman year at Harvard University.
As she prepares to embark on the journey, the TLC star and LGBTQ+ activist spoke with Thrive Global about beginning her studies at the prestigious university — and how she plans to manage the inevitable stresses that college brings through intentional self-care.
“I’m nervous. I feel like college is going to be a great place for me to step out of my shell, be independent, and build new routines and habits and ways of living,” Jennings said in the interview.
But although Jennings is excited about the new possibilities that college will open up to her, she’s worried that the anxiety and depression she battles could intensify.
“It’s also a place where I can feel that anxiety and depression to an even greater degree than I do now, because there’s so much going on all the time,” she admitted. “You want to be involved in everything, but school’s stressful in and of itself. I’ll be studying for tests and exams and trying to be the best I can be. In high school, I always got straight As, because I put that pressure on myself.”
Looking ahead to her next chapter, the teen said she wants “to focus on taking care of myself, and building good habits — that’s really my focus.”
As to how she manages when she feels overwhelmed, Jennings said she listens “to my inner voice, saying what I need to do for myself to take care of myself.”
“Being able to look after yourself through self-care practices is so important, whether that’s listening to a good song, meditating, going outside for a walk, petting your pets — little things like that really help me manage my stress,” she explained.
Added Jennings, who plans to major in social sciences: “When I’m in a situation, and I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I really just have to take a deep breath and just get into that place of alignment again where I’m back to where I need to be.”
In May, Jennings revealed her college pick.
“When I found out I was accepted to Harvard, I was so shocked,” she said in a video announcement. “Not because I didn’t think I could do it, but because it’s such a selective school with such a small acceptance rate. I was like ‘Who gets into Harvard?’ But I got in!”
Jennings told PEOPLE in March that the elite university was one of her top choices, along with Princeton and Pomona College in California. Now that Jennings is officially off to Harvard in the fall, she can’t wait for what’s next.
“I feel so grateful to have this opportunity to attend an institution that’s so incredible and well-renowned. I just feel that I’m going to be me, do me and have a great time,” she said, adding that she’s most looking forward to “meeting new people, making connections, building friendships that will last a lifetime and I’m really looking forward to that experience.”