I remember the day that I left for college like it was yesterday. I was so nervous about being away from my family and learning how to live without seeing them every day. I was scared to start classes that actually required me to study for them. I was eager to become more independent.
Most importantly, I was ready to start chasing my dream of being the best teacher I could be. My four years at college taught me so many things, but these are the five most important lessons that I've learned.
1. I learned what it was like to be alone and that it's OK to be alone.
It's OK to be alone because during the times of being alone, I found myself. I got to take time for myself and reflect on some choices that I made in the past. I actually had time to truly learn who I wanted to be in this world.
I knew going into college what I wanted to do in this world: teach kids, but I did not know who I wanted to be. Growing up, I kind of always felt like I had to be what everyone around me wanted me to be, but in college, I was free to start over and be whoever I wanted to be.
I learned that one of my goals in life is to always be a positive light in people's life. I asked my boyfriend how he would describe me to someone, and he said, "a loving soul that shines a ray of positivity to anyone who you meet." This is how I want to be described in this world.
2. I learned that you can never change a person, no matter how hard you try.
This is a pretty hard pill to swallow. Personally, I am the type of person who doesn't like conflict and wants everyone to be happy. Some people aren't like this, and that's OK. I always see the good in someone, which can be a blessing and a curse. This characteristic gets taken advantage of most of the time. Some people see it as an opportunity to use my kindness to their own advantage. I've learned over the last four years that any type of relationship goes two ways.
With that being said, I learned that if I am putting all of my effort and love into someone but do not receive the same love and effort back, then it is not a healthy relationship. It might be hard to let that relationship go at the time, but all I have ever done was learn from those relationships.
3. I learned that every person is in my life for a reason.
Throughout my college career, I met a lot of people. Some of them stayed in my life and some of them did not. I learned that that is OK. Every person is in my life for a reason. Each friend brings different types of joy to my life. God has placed them each in my life for a purpose. I may not know that complete purpose yet, but God does, and that's all that matters.
Throughout the years of failed friendships, I have learned that it is not about the quantity of friends but the quality that each friend brings to my life. I am forever thankful for each friendship that I made in college and excited to see where we all go in life after college.
4. I learned that my family is the most important thing in the world.
I never knew how much I took my family for granted until I moved four hours away from them. When I lived at home, I saw my parents, and sometimes grandparents, every day. I have always been a family-oriented person who genuinely enjoyed being around my family.
It wasn't until I left for college that I realized my family isn't going to be around every day. I struggled at the beginning of my college experience because most of the time a phone call home was not enough. I drove the four hours home a lot and cherished every moment that I got to spend with my family. You may not get to choose your family, but you do get to choose to love them and cherish the moments that you have with them.
5. I learned that I was born to stand out rather than fit in.
Yes, I quoted Dr. Seuss, but it's a great life lesson. At the beginning of my college experience, I was bummed because I did not get into a sorority because I did not try to "fit in" with the type of girls they were looking for.
During my freshman year, most of my friends were in sororities. Some of my friends acted themselves around me and then different around their friends in their sorority. It's OK. I'm not saying anything bad about them, but I realized that people changed who they were based on the people that they were around. I did not like that. I always tried to stay true to myself no matter who I was around... even if I didn't quite "fit in."
I may not have had many friends, but I had people around me that loved me for who I was. This is one of the most important lessons that I learned because I knew who I was, and I never wanted to change for anybody.