My undergraduate years have come to an end. I am sad and still in disbelief that I have finished 4 years of college already. I have learned many things during my time in undergrad, both in and out of the classroom. So instead of boring you all with the academic things I have learned over 4 years I have decided to share some of the life lessons I have learned.
It is okay to not know what you are doing with your life
It is unfair to place that kind of stress on yourself upon entering college. How can someone expect you to have everything figured out the minute you walk onto your college campus, if for the past 18 or so years of your life you have been told what to do and have been treated like a kid? You do not need to map out your life just because you are now a freshmen in college. Which leads me to my second lesson
It is okay have a plan for your life, and then change that plan
So if you are like me, and you like to make plans and set goals and check off boxes from to-do lists, then you may have a plan for your life well before entering college. I had been telling people my grand plan for my life since my freshmen year of high school and was positive(or I thought I was) that this plan was all I ever wanted in life. That is until I changed my mind. It took me until the spring semester of my junior year (yes, my junior year) to realize the path I had chosen for myself did not light a fire inside of me. I was so worried to tell people that what I once wanted I no longer did because I thought changing my mind (about my own life mind you) would look like I was quitting and that this change would mess everything up. None of these thoughts were true, and in the end who cares what everyone else thinks. The only person’s opinion on this that matters is your own. You have every right leave something if it isn’t what truly makes you happy. Which leads to my third lesson
It is okay to say no
Plain and simple, if you don’t want to do something you can say so. You don’t owe anyone anything and if you want to stay home and binge watch Netflix instead of going out on the weekends, then do it. Don’t let people make you feel like you have to do something that you don’t want to do, and if there are people like that in your life you have every right to remove them from your life. Saying no can mean saying no to anything from friendships to parties to dinner plans. This isn’t a justification to never have fun or to always be studying. Saying no is finding the balance between enjoying being young and starting to grow up. As strange as that sounds, saying no is you learning what is important to you and prioritizing the important things.
It is okay to do things alone
I said above that it is okay to say no, so that means there will be times people say no to you. That is okay. If you ask someone to go get dinner with you or go to the beach or go shopping or whatever, and their response is no, that doesn’t mean you should not do what you wanted to do. Go get dinner by yourself or go shopping or go to the beach. You will be surprised that you are actually awesome company and these moments alone are perfect opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and learn a little more about yourself. I love alone time, it allows me to unplug and just think about different things, and recharges me for when I am around my friends.
Do something to give back
You have something that makes you special and makes you unique. Whatever that something is, share that quality with someone who might not have that in their life. Some of my favorite memories from college are the days in which I spent time volunteering. The past 3 years I volunteered with an after school program that was run through my college for elementary through high school aged students. There were some challenging days, as is expected when working with middle school students in particular, but the kids I met through this program are all so amazing. They made me want to pull my hair out and hug them and joke around with them all at the same time. I will definitely miss them now that I have graduated, but I wouldn’t trade the memories and moments with them for anything.
There is a difference between hearing and listening
This is something I learned as I began to figure out who my true friends were and who I was as a person. Listening involves begin actively engaged in conversation with someone. The best example I can give of this is when you are driving with the radio on. You are 100% hearing whatever song is playing on the radio, but listening involves hearing the song and processing the lyrics and the instrumental accompaniment. I learned that if you want to be a better friend you need to listen to and not just hear what people are saying to you. Listening lets you ‘hear between the lines’. You never know how much this could mean to someone.
Let people know what they mean to you
I know for me personally it can sometimes feel like you are not appreciated or that you are an after thought. So it is nice to hear that you mean something to someone. You really never know what someone is going through and just reminding them that you care about them and that they make your life better by being in it can change their day or even their life. Life is too short anyway to keep your feelings locked inside. Share what is on your mind and in your heart any and every chance you get. You never know when the next opportunity to tell someone what they mean to you will be. Live in the moment, say I love you when you hang up the phone and when you say goodbye(only if you mean it though. Don’t dilute the word love by saying it to everyone). This is something I can do more of, because I know there are people that I should be reminding and telling how much they mean to me.
Dwelling on the negative casts a shadow on the positive
First hand experience here when I say this. There was a good month/month and a half of my sophomore year where I was just a Negative Nelly. This little period made me realize while I was busy complaining and looking at the negatives I was missing out on the positives in my life. I couldn’t see the silver lining in anything and I wasn’t taking in good times. I finally got tired of being negative( I was annoying myself). I made the choice to stop complaining and start being grateful for things. This lead me to journaling and to becoming more mindful of when I complained. This change was one of the best changes I made. I am so much happier and really don’t complain all that often, if at all. Someone actually told me the other day that I don’t complain and that made me really happy because it was proof that I was accomplishing what I said I wanted to accomplish. This is kind of like the Law of Attraction. What you think is what you manifest and if you don’t want negative things to happen in your life, then stop thinking negative thoughts. Simple as that, lol, but actually of all the changes you need to make in your life, start with cutting out negativity. It is amazing how much better you will feel when you don’t have negative energy surrounding you.
Anyway, my list could probably go on forever, there is no shortage of things I learned these past 4 years. My favorite thing (outside of my major) that I learned these past years was who I am as a person. Not to sound full of myself or anything like that, but I am one of my favorite people I met at college. I really learned a lot about myself and what I want from life and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I am proud of how far I have come since my freshmen year and I am ready to embrace whatever comes next for me.