Well, here it is readers. As I prepare for my next big education move, I am making one last reflection on undergrad! Thank you to Paul from the Captain’s Speech for his post on this topic last week, you are a wonderful opening act 🙂
Let me start out by saying, college was no fairytale. I cried so much. I lost so much. Nothing went the way I planned. But in a way, I think a few years from now, I will look back saying…”that went better than I planned” 🙂
I’d like to think (and I pray every day) that grad school is a second chance. A second chance to do things the way I wanted them to happen. So here are the things I learned and the mistakes I hope I won’t make in grad school.
1.) Be open to meeting lots of different people, but don’t be so open you share almost everything about yourself with people you just met- I am an open book. Well I used to be. So freshman year, in a lot of my classes and in my residence hall- I would just share my deepest darkest secrets randomly without thinking. I thought, “Hey. So yea I just met this person but they seem so nice they’re my new bff, what’s the worst that could happen?”. ALL OF THEM BECAME MY ENEMIES. AND NOW THEY HAVE MY DEEPEST DARKEST SECRETS!!!
So yea. Ever since the end of freshmen year, I don’t open myself up to people immediately anymore. Even with people I know, if they ask me personal questions, all they get is “Yes. Good. No. Maybe. Fine.”
And I realized. The people that are trustworthy, they will stick around, they will ask more and you will eventually open yourself up and they will value your trust.
2.) But don’t be so “closed” you miss out on a fun event or chance to meet new people! Just because you don’t want to open yourself up too much doesn’t mean you can’t go to social gatherings! Utilize all those events your RA puts on. All those “Meet the Dean/your Advisor” event yours specific college puts on. A dance. A cultural event. Anything. Take a chance! You’ll never know who you’ll met! I always imagine what would have happened if I told my friend I wouldn’t perform at her clubs event. 200 people showed up at that event. I met my then boyfriend and lots of my friends that are still my friends today!
3.) This too shall pass- Some of the worst things in my life happened while I was in college. But here is something one of my favorite Professor’s I TA’d for taught me, nothing lasts forever. And as my dad said in Hardships, most things are changeable.
4.) You are exactly where you are meant to be- I am a huge believer in fate. Often times in college, through my various heartbreaks in relationships, sickness, and failed classes- I had a hard time believing it. But in the end, I realized that everything that happened, was meant to happen. And even if I tried to change it, it wouldn’t have changed. Because you can’t control fate.
5.) I need somebody, and there is nothing wrong with that- Whether it is a significant other or a good friend, we all need someone. As much as I liked to say “I don’t need him!” every time Heart broke me, I did. Because let’s be honest, this world is too cruel to live in by yourself. Or at least it is for me. So establish who that “someone” is in your life. The one that will want to know if you got home safe. The one that will bring you soup/medicine when you’re sick. The one that you can call if something bad happens. The ones you can call if something good happens. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be a significant other! For me, after Heart, it was always Mr. Photography dude and Z.
6.)Be prepared to agree to disagree and respect different opinions- I think I saw this the most in my relationships as well as my Presidential role. College is going to be your first glimpse of the real world. Where real people will have opinions they didn’t even teach you in high school. Yes, I’m serious. When player said that thing he said, I told “Z” through tears, “I guess I’ll just have to agree to disagree”. And that’s true! Everyone deserves to have their own opinion and for it to be respected. Even if that means saying, “Okay that’s your opinion. That was lovely, thank you and goodbye”.
7.) Find something to do when you’re stressed- There will be pressure. Pressure from your peers. Your parents. Your professors. Your colleagues. It’s important to find a hobby and stick to it. For my friends it was video games, running, dancing, reading. For me it was writing. Find what helps you clear your head and do it.
8.) You don’t have to go to parties if you don’t want to-One time, when I was a freshman, I told one of my older classmate’s, “See…the thing is… I’m not really into parties”. And she responded by saying, “Which is fine!” I think I went to maybe one party when I decided, “This isn’t for me”. Thankfully, I had lots of friends that felt the same way. So we would do other things like going to a club, bar, movies, shopping, eating. I never felt like I was missing out. I loved being with people I love, rather than with random people who I’m not all that fond of.
9.) Fight for yourself, you are your best ally! I tell this to my students all the time. Absolutely no one can feel what you are going through, so if you are going through something and not getting the help you need, talk to lots of different people and get it. My freshman year roommate was verbally abusive and I swear was getting physically abusive, I felt like she was going to hit me one day. I understood she had Borderline Personality Disorder, and I am an advocate for all mental illnesses, but I needed a room change. Immediately. You cannot simply live with someone who would try to hurt you. Especially as I was dealing with my own billion problems during that time. But, no matter how much I told my RA, all she wanted to do was “mediate”. And then her boss recommended the same thing. So I went to the head of the head of the head of the head of the housing department, who easily offered me a “room change request form”. What the fuck. That is all I had to do all along!!!! By the time I did that it was already May and I only had a month to go and I was just done. But to think, all I had to do was go up the ladder and could have gotten one year of my dignity back, meh. So yes. Fight for yourself. Even if you need to talk to the person on the highest step of that ladder, it is worth it.
10.) Nothing is worth your emotional and physical well-being- Ah so this is the most important one and I am trying to write this without crying. Whether it is you deciding to go to sleep after 5 hours of studying for that Bio test. Whether it is you deciding to stop crying after that guy broke your heart for the billionth time. Know that no, that Bio grade is not worth your wasted sleep. There are so many statistics on what a test does to the depression and anxiety levels of students. It needs to go down. Yes, study as much as you can. But when you’re eyes begin to close, let them close. And no, that guy is not worth the dehydration you are causing yourself from all those tears. No one is.
What do you wish someone told you before starting college? Comment below! Any tips for grad school? Comment that as well!