Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What I Learned From College

A nice little throwback to my dorm room my sophomore year of college. And yes, even in my apartment now, I still have my Taylor Swift 1989 polaroids in a heart shape above my pillows.
What I learned in college is...what I learned in college is...what I learned in college is...

I've been sitting on this post for a few weeks now, though I think I've been thinking about this topic for a while. It's no secret that college teaches you far more than formulas, iambic pentameter, the basics of marketing...you get the point. Just as school hasn't always circled around academics and education, we are never just students. We're teenagers, friends,  girlfriends, employees, sisters, daughters. Life doesn't stop when you're in school. It doesn't stop when you're a teenager in high school and it certainly doesn't stop when you're making your first steps on your own as an adult in college. Because of this, there are plenty lessons of learned (sometimes, more) in life throughout your collegiate years. Things to do, things not to do, what you should and should not say, how to deal with stress...all of these things test us and it's up to us to see if we can learn from them or not.

I learned that maintaining friendships is hard. I went away to school, shipping off three and a half hours and approximately 200 miles from home. Keeping in touch with friends when you're not seeing them every day like high school is hard enough, let alone being states away. I came into college with a group of friends back home. That group has, not surprisingly, dissolved for many reasons. I don't play the blame game and I never have, but I will admit that there were things I could have done better. One of my weaknesses is responding in timely manners, remembering to text people, keeping in mind that I haven't talked to someone in weeks. But sometimes, that's what college does. It keeps you busy and distracted for weeks at a time and when you finally come to again, you realize all of the things and people that you missed. Some friendships can handle the distance, some friendships cannot.

I learned that textbooks, most of the time, are a waste. But I'm certainly not the first or last person to say this. Professors will, no doubt, disagree, but if I had a dollar for all of the textbooks I purchased and never touched during college, I would have enough money to buy a cake or something. Be wary when purchasing textbooks. If it's for an online class, perhaps try to find a really cheap used copy. And I'm not saying to try to find them online for free, but I'm also not not saying to do that.

I learned that it's better to be early than late. I'm from a family who is perpetually late to everything, but punctuality, I've found, is key. Show up early to your classes (not half an hour, like ten minutes) and be present. Don't be late to work unless traffic actually is that bad, not that you left your apartment fifteen minutes late because you couldn't pick between your turtleneck colors.

I learned that you must treat yourself with the utmost kindness. Do not compare yourself to others, whether it's in looks, intelligence, number of friends, number of internships, etc. Everyone is on different paths in life and everyone has different circumstances. Do not tell yourself unkind things because you think it will spark a change. Do not beat yourself up for small things. And do not stress yourself out to the point of exhaustion. None of this is worth it in the long run.

I learned that sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to participate. This goes for participating in class discussion, getting over your fear of raising your hand in class and giving your own opinion or take on the answer. This also goes for leaving your dorm room freshmen year and talking to people on your floor instead of becoming a hermit and latching onto your roommates for socialization. The worst thing I did to myself in college was hide in my room because I was terrified to interact with all of these new people. Why would I choose to go away for school and not stay at home if there wasn't a small piece of me that wanted to meet new, extraordinary people? I didn't want to see the same faces that I had seen every day for the past four years. I wanted to see new faces and I was depriving myself from it. It wasn't until I started to participate my junior year that I realized everything I had been missing out on, all of the laughter and fun nights out and a tight-knit friend group. And it makes me wonder how much more I would've enjoyed my first two years of college if I hadn't been too terrified to just step out of my comfort zone and participate.

I didn't know who I was before I came to college. I didn't know who I was before I turned nineteen. Hell, there's a good chance that I might not even know who I am right now. But what I know is that whoever I was before I moved away was not the person I am today and I hope I never see them again.  Because–and get ready for the big cliche finale–in college I learned who I was, or at least who I wanted to be. I learned to compliment people every day, to reach out with kindness, to be positive and to be not only my own personal cheerleader, but a cheerleader to those around me. I learned that there's nothing wrong with wearing hunter green furry jackets to campus, that nobody will bat an eyelash at your bold lipstick or think you're weird (they might just compliment it). All of these small lessons have combined to transform me into a better version of myself.

Welcoming Francesca 2.0...


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