Recently, my friends and I thought back over the past four years and wondered if we could go back in time and do it all over again, would we?
No, was my instinctive response. And while my friends talked about how they would go back and change things, I realized that I really wouldn't. Maybe do a few things earlier, but no.
This is not to say that my collegiate life has been flawless and perfect, but rather, imperfectly flawed, as I like to think of it. A lot has happened in my four years... a lot. I went through things that I never wanted to go through, I saw my friends get hurt, I lost friends, gained some, and experienced a roller coaster of things during my time here at Miami University.
But all of those things — the really utterly terrible, the bad, not-so-bad, and good — brought me to who I am today. And I feel pretty powerful. I can talk about the trauma that I've experienced and fight for things to change so that others never have to go through what I went and still am going through. I can talk about how you can feel like the least powerful person on the planet because you saw something that triggered you and made you think, even if only for a split second, that your life was terrible and not worth living. I can talk about how scared some things make me because I am terrified of small silver cars, people who look like my rapist, and I'm even afraid of studying history sometimes, which really, really sucks.
Now, college wasn't all bad! I found the love of my life in the most unsuspecting place when I needed him the most. I found friends who have been through hell with me and still support me and push me to be the best I can be.
If you're just getting into college, or you've spent some time there already, my biggest advice is to do everything with passion. If you can't go to that spring break trip, or studying abroad just wasn't in the cards for you, don't look back and focus on those losses. Focus on the things that you did with passion, and focus on the things that made you when they very truly could have broken you.
You're in college for a reason, so don't take anything for granted. Ask questions, attend that free event, go get that free food your apartment complex hosts, but most importantly don't let yourself hold you back. If you don't have the money to do it, then focus on the stuff you can do. I couldn't afford a study abroad or spring break, but I spent my time baking, cooking and painting — all of which I never really knew I could do.
It's a lot easier to say this looking back on my years, but recognize what can be made the best of your experience, and do it. Don't be afraid.