What I Learned During My Five Years Of College

What I Learned During My Five Years Of College

I finally graduate college on Friday, and I learned many life lessons during my time.

What I Learned During My Five Years Of College
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As I wrap up my five years as a Bear and prepare for graduate school in the fall, I learned so many life lessons throughout:

  • 1. Stepping out of your comfort zone is how you will grow. If you did not step out of your comfort zone at least once in college, then the time you spent there was questionable. Prior to college, I never saw myself on a mission trip. I never saw myself involved in a ministry outside the Catholic church I grew up in. I became more involved with my ministry as a junior, instead of just popping in once and a while like I did my first two years. I finally attended my first mission trip in 2018. I attended a second time in 2019 with my ministry. I never saw myself in leadership at all. I held several leadership roles throughout my five years.
  • 2.The people you start with might not be who you finish with. I met so many people my first couple weeks and first semester. I was heavily involved in one organization (that will remain unnamed) for four years. Over time, it became toxic, and several "friends" ghosted me or turned on me. After battling myself internally for over a year, I decided it simply was not worth sacrificing my mental health for the status of being a member of that group, anymore. So, I left. I became more involved with my ministry during my third year. During my last year and a half, I was an ambassador for the Bear POWER program for students with disabilities to receive an education. I have made significantly closer friendships in less time through those two outlets, along with my closest friends in my cohort, than anything else I was a part of in college.
  • 3.There is nothing wrong with asking for help. My mental health took a turn for the worst as I got older. I received counseling on campus for three years. While it did not get rid of the circumstances I was in, it helped me process my emotions in a much healthier way. I used to hate asking questions in class, because I felt like I would cause others to become annoyed with me or because people would think I am stupid. After switching majors, I became a lot more comfortable with asking questions and participating in class.
  • 4.Never act out of peer pressure. I was never the stereotypical "party girl" in high school, or when coming to college. Some people at different points in college before I turned 21 made me feel weird about it. While I learned to not be as intimidated by drinking after I turned 21, I still hardly ever went out to bars. I like going to bars occasionally, no doubt about it. It just is not something I want to partake in each week.
  • 5.Do not convince yourself that your whole life is figured out when you start college, or at any point throughout. When I came to college, I acted all special and felt as if my whole life was figured out. I wanted to be a nurse. After nursing school not working out, I was back at square one. I remembered my personal experiences in speech therapy as a child, and decided to switch my major to that. I was certain that I would get into graduate school at Missouri State. That did not happen. Life threw a huge curve-ball, and I will attend a master's program out of state.
  • 6.Never let your whole life revolve around work or school, and never be afraid to say "No." Due to the pressure I felt to get high grades to get into nursing school, and later graduate school, I let school define me. I spent countless hours in the library, and with different organizations, because I felt those involvements would help me make more friends. I do not regret being in them at all, since I have made some of my closest friends in some of them and have stepped out of my comfort zones in way I would not have otherwise. With all that in mind, I wish I would have realized that it is okay to say "no." Fortunately, I have a summer off before graduate school that I can hopefully use to spend with some friends that will be in Springfield this summer.
  • 7.No one can make you feel inferior unless you let them. Due to relentless bullying before college and toxic friendships I had at different points, I let the opinions of others define me. I was not perfect, either. After such time had passed, I learned to forgive myself for my imperfect moments, and to not let the past define who I am entirely. Professors have expressed doubts in me completing graduate school and working as a clinician. I made the mistake of believing them. I contemplated switching majors again. Finally, I decided to not let their poor attitudes dictate what I do.
  • 8.There comes a time when you need to stop over-extending yourself to people who under-extend themselves to you. I believe in the idea of giving and expecting nothing back to an extent. But when you bend over backwards for people to do absolutely nothing, it is draining. When I was in those toxic friendships and groups, it drained me mentally, emotionally, and even physically.
  • 9.Never feel bad for walking away from something toxic. The history I had with different friends, partners, and groups I was in kept me from leaving. The validation I sought from them made me stay. Finally, after realizing how toxic those situations were, I realized it was time to walk away. Toxic is toxic.
  • 10."I am still standing" regardless of the trials I face. I have hit both my highest and lowest points many times over these last five years. The challenges I have faced do not define me. With that in mind; however, they have shaped me. I have learned valuable lessons from them all. Those trials gave me perseverance. As good old Elton John said "I'm still standing."
  • 11."You just need to remember who you are and be okay with it." Bernie in Rocketman could not have said it any better. Multiple people have told me things such as "I am too much to handle," since my personality gets big (no exaggeration) when I get out of my shell. I have been told by a man I was seeing previously that I am awkward. I felt self-conscious about it. Now, as Elton John would say, "I'm okay with strange." I love my quirks, and so does my current boyfriend. I was diagnosed as autistic, and I learned to love myself even more. I embraced my quirks and embraced my special interest in dogs more. I realized that autism is a gift, not a burden. As Temple Grandin would say, I am "different, not less." A line in a book I am reading now called Shattered by Suicide, Renewed by Resilience by Jason Holzer (10/10 recommend reading it by the way) has a line that stuck out to me: "Peoples' approval means nothing without your own approval of yourself." It made complete sense to me. I had to love myself first if I wanted others to do the same. I remembered who I was, and now, I am okay with it.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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