It’s been a wild four years. I can without hesitation say I’m not the same person I was when I started college, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. A lot of the things I’ve learned aren’t mind-blowing, but they’re important regardless.
1. If transitions were easy, they wouldn’t be called transitions.
Everyone knows college is different from high school. That’s no secret. Everyone also knows it’s a transition. What I feel like is lesser known is the emphasis on transition. Your first semester (or even first year) of college will most likely not be easy and that is okay! If you’re struggling adjusting to classes, making new friends, being away from home, etc., know that your friends likely are as well regardless of how many “happy” Instagrams they post. You’re not alone.
2. Your classes will require effort. Putting in effort does not mean you’re dumb.
This may sound strange, but this was truly something I had to come to terms with in my first year of college. If I’m being honest, in high school I was used to doing well without really trying. I know, everyone hates those people. I realized that I didn’t know how to study. It took a lot of trial and error for me to figure out which study techniques work best for me. For example, flashcards are not my friends. I also had to accept the fact that working hard does not mean I’m not smart enough. I had a false belief that I was only “smart” if I was able to do something with ease from the start. How naive I was.
3. You’ll become friends with people who make you wonder how you could have gone 18+ years without them in your life.
It’s funny because one of my biggest concerns going into college was about making friends. I mean I knew I’d make friends, but I couldn’t imagine I’d ever make friends as good as those from home. I wish I could go back and tell myself I had absolutely nothing to worry about. I’m at a loss for words trying to find a way to describe the group of people I am lucky enough to call best friends.
I found people who even after seeing me at my worst, still love me unconditionally. That’s when you know it’s real. In reality, they’re the reason BU was one of the hardest places to say goodbye to. But, I’m not concerned because with friends like these, goodbye is always just see you soon. I may have gone 18 years without them, but they’ll be with me for the rest of my years to come.
4. Sometimes chapters of your life end, and that’s okay.
In the nature of transitioning, chapters of your life pre-college may end. Whether that be friendships that fade, relationships that end, or hobbies that become a memory. If everything stayed the same we’d never grow. Be okay with an ending because it’s only an opportunity for another beginning.
5. Loving yourself is something no one will ever be able to take away from you.
Ah self-love. I always assumed I loved myself. It sounds a bit weird to think you might not, doesn’t it? Turns out I did and I didn’t. I used to be a quintessential people pleaser. A bad side effect of my need to please others: I let other peoples perspectives of me influence my perspective of myself. This was all fine and dandy if someone thought I was lovely. But, if someone didn’t like me, I was suddenly convinced there was something wrong with me. Until I learned the hard way that as long as I like me, that’s all that matters. It’s the best lesson I’ve ever learned. Be unapologetically yourself.
6. Spending time with yourself is great.
It started with learning to eat in the dining hall by myself freshman year. As the years went on, it progressed to learning to enjoy my own company. Running errands by myself was always a breeze, but I don’t think it was until I went abroad that I became comfortable doing activities on my own. Before then, I didn’t understand the appeal in going to a museum or park or movie by yourself. When I studied abroad, there were times when my schedule didn’t align with those of my friends. There was absolutely no way I was going to sit in my room waiting for someone to be free when I had such limited time to explore London. So, I hung out with myself. And you know what? It was great.
7. People are more willing to help than you’d imagine.
I rarely considered contacting someone I didn’t know (or even someone I did) for help because I was afraid of being interpreted as weird. Then, I reached a point in my job search where I was completely over conventional means of applying. I decided I was going to make the most of what I had available to me. Oh, your cousin’s roommate’s mom knows someone at X company? Great, I’ll send her an email. I was so pleasantly surprised by the amount of people willing to help me when I had the courage to ask.
This applies to all aspects of your life. You’re having a rough day? Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to keep you company. You need recommendations for an upcoming trip? Don’t feel awkward asking your friend’s roommate. I’ve also reached out to people when I needed advice on coping with anxiety. People are almost always willing to help. And if they aren’t? Ask someone else.
8. No one has their shit together, I promise.
Everyone seems like they have their shit together, but it’s all a facade. No one really knows what they’re doing, so don’t worry when you inevitably come to the conclusion you don’t have your shit together either.
If you’re still in college — enjoy it! It’ll be over in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you’ll be reflecting on what you’ve learned in the past 4 years too.