I am about to graduate college so I thought I could share a few of the life lessons I learned during these four years at my university. Hopefully, these little snippets of advice can make going through college a little easier for someone else than it was for me.
1. It's all about the treats.
If you’re going into a meeting everyone is dreading, or if you have to be somewhere at the crack of dawn: bring treats. Donuts, coffee, candy, anything. People are way more willing to put on a happy face and do work when they’re given free treats. Also, you’ll probably make a new friend. Money can’t buy you friends....but free donuts certainly can.
2. Never. Complain.
I know this is so hard to do, but resist the urge to complain at every little inconvenience. People will notice if you have a positive attitude and hang in there when things get tough. You might not know it, but you are ALWAYS being watched-by your peers, your teachers, and even strangers. One day when you need a job or a recommendation, they’ll be more likely to remember you or willing to give a good report if you stood out from a sea of negative nellies.
3. Dress to present your best self.
I’m not saying every morning you need to look like you just walked out of a magazine, but if you have an important event you need to go to, always present your best self. Putting in the extra effort will make you feel better and more confident for whatever you have to do. College is about figuring our who you are, and the best way to do that is by putting your best foot forward.
4. Wake up Early.
5. Pay attention in class.
There are tons of classes I took that I absolutely loathed because they had nothing to do with my major, and I paid little to no attention. But every class is a chance to learn. You can improve your listening skills or practice putting your phone away for an hour. Don’t waste the money you’ve spent.
6. Learn how to manage your stress.
Again, something I DID NOT do, but it is so important. They say college is supposed to be the best 4+ years of your life, but a lot of the time it’s not. So your job is to figure out what stresses you out and gain tools to overcome it. There is no shame in going to therapy, reaching out for help, etc. It doesn’t make you weak, it shows that you have the courage to change. Whatever works to de-stress you, whether it be yoga, spending time with God, running, therapy, DO IT! You’ll be way happier and you won’t spend hours crying to your mom over the phone.
7. Be single!
When you get to your junior/senior year of college, everyone is going to start getting engaged. No, there is nothing wrong with you-they just have a different story than yours. Being single in college is honestly a huge blessing. In your 20’s, you are allowed to be selfish, and that includes being picky about who you date. Don’t lower your standards just to say you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, because an unhealthy relationship will just stress you out even more. Focus more on finding good friends, keeping in touch with your family, and working on your craft. When the time is right, the right person will fit in perfectly with the life you’re creating. If they stress you out or make you feel bad about yourself: it’s not right.
8. Treat yo self.
If you’ve had a long day or you find yourself at wit’s end, go out of your way to treat yourself. Get that coffee with an extra shot of hazelnut or play hooky from one of your classes. It’s important to find little things that make you happy so you don’t go insane. I mean, don’t go crazy and spend all of your money or miss so much class you’re failing, but if you work hard, it’s ok to take a second to yourself every once in a while.
9. It's okay to stay in.
It is so important to take care of yourself. If you have a huge paper or a big presentation due the next day, or if you’re just so exhausted you think you’re about to get sick, it’s okay not to go out with friends. If they’re really your friends, they will understand that you can’t go to every little event. There will be more parties and more random Waffle House adventures. Learning how to figure out when you can and can’t do things is important...and you can’t do it all!
10. Stay away from drama and people who talk negative about you.
It is honestly just not worth it. Some days you just have to be the duck and let the water roll off your back. There will always be people who spread gossip, and there will always be people who don’t like you. Your job is to figure out whose opinions matter. Because if not, you will become a slave to fear. You can’t let fear of what other people say stop you from living up to your potential. People who truly love you will be with you through thick and thin. Be sure to keep them close, because they are few and far between.
11. Always say thank you.
Even if you don’t agree with what a professor says or even if you’re having a bad day- a thank you goes a LONG way. If someone goes out of their way to do something for you or if a professor takes time to meet with you, overwhelm them with thanks. It also never hurts to send a quick thank you note. People will be more willing to help you in the future if you were gracious, willing to listen, and kind when they helped you the first time. Never expect that you “deserve” anything. Humbling yourself by apologizing is also important too, even if it wasn’t your fault.
12. Never. Give. Up.
College is HARD. But I always say, if it's easy it isn't worth it. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get something right the first time or if you have to change your major 4 times. The world is not going to end and you have time! I also always say, it's not what you're doing, it's who you're doing it with. So whatever major you choose, make sure you're surrounded by people who encourage you and lift you up. Practice, learn, grow, explore, create, fail, make mistakes, and keep going! If you think you know it all, you don't. So ask questions, keep searching for answers, and stay joyful. You're going to make it.