“19 years old and you’re onto something.”
That is what one of my best friends at college told me right before my 19th birthday. Her words resonated and urged me to reflect on my experiences up until that point. Nineteen is incredibly young and to say that I know everything at 19 years old would be a naive statement to make. I still have ample trials and tribulations to go through and endless lesson-bearing experiences to endure, but I would like to think that in my past 19 years I have learned some incredibly valuable lessons that I will carry forever. Here are 8 simple, yet helpful life lessons that I wish I had known before coming to college.
- Save your damn money
Let’s face it, I am still trying to wrap my head around this concept. I am definitely one of those people who feels as if money burns holes in their pockets. But as my financial endeavors become more and more my own responsibility and less my parents, I am beginning to learn how important it is to have money to fall back on in cases of emergencies.
2. You will drift apart from people you’ve grown up with
This is the saddest and hardest concept to swallow. But it is human nature and a part of life. Drift does not take away from the strong friendship that you once had. Drifting apart from people who you no longer see on a daily basis is natural. I’m not saying never put in any effort to talk to these people ever again, but when you do talk to them again, it may not be the same, and eventually you will realize that is okay.
3. Sports practices that you once used to dread would now be a dream to go back to
In high school, I played sports every single season. I truly loved all the sports I played and all of my teammates, but practices were always such a drag. Now, I would give anything to go back and exercise with some of my best friends, to compete, and above all else to have a regular exercise schedule.
4. The meaning of being “in shape” in high school is a lot different than the college meaning of being “in shape”
This was a big one for me. High school sports allowed me to eat literally whatever I wanted without a second thought (RIP to daily Big Macs). I was also in tremendous shape. Coming to the realization that maintaining the body I had in high school was something that just was not going to happen was tough. Some nights you have to skip the gym and go to the library and some nights only have time to eat a quick Mac and Cheese dinner. Although staying in shape is not impossible to do in college, I think it is important to cut yourself some slack. You are doing the best you can.
5. Grades are important, but they don’t define your worth
You are at college for a reason. To learn, to expand your mind, and to submit assignments to be graded. I can’t even begin to explain how many times I’ve gotten a bad grade back and felt like the most useless, downright unintelligent person ever. I realize now that this reaction is normal to experience and a good thing--it means you care. What isn’t okay is feeling as though you are less of a person. I’ve had to remind myself this on many occasions. One bad grade does not make you a bad person.
6. Take classes and go to presentations that will expand your knowledge of the world
Before college, I never knew just how many things go on in the world that fall under our radar. I never knew what intersectionality was, what “double standards” truly meant, and other important lessons on things such as privilege and oppression. I feel so lucky to attend a university that has so many opportunities to learn about these problems, and teaches me how to identify them in my everyday life. A presentation on feminism? Go to it. Conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement? Attend it. College is a time to have fun, but also to open your mind and educate yourself on issues that matter.
7. Find those friends that will be by your side through anything
Your teenage years will be a rollercoaster of emotions. Heartbreak is inevitable, college is stressful, and sometimes you will feel less than good enough. This is where, not good, but GREAT friends come into play. They will be the ones there for you in your worst moments with ice cream and the words to make you realize that life will still go on.
8. Seize every single opportunityLiterally. Join every club you’re even remotely interested in. Go out on a weekday. Sit on a roof if the opportunity presents itself. Be involved in your classes. Talk to the person sitting next to you on the bus. Do. It. All. These are the years to make all the mistakes you possibly can, because after this it is the real world. And then everyone expects you to have it all together.