Eight Lessons My First Year of College Taught Me About Life
Politics and Activism

Eight Lessons My First Year of College Taught Me About Life

From laundry to mental health, there's a lot to learn


The first year of college can be scary –– it's your first year away from home, your first year of independence. It's a time to start figuring things out for yourself, without the help of your parents. You learn a lot, mostly from trial and error. There are hundreds of mistakes to be made, but eventually, you learn from those mistakes. So here are eight lessons my first year of college taught me about life.

1. Procrastination is never relaxing.

No matter how many times you say you're only going to watch one episode of The Office, just to relax after class, you know it's a lie. One episode means seven, and all that "relaxation" is just you avoiding the two hundred page book you have to read for class tomorrow. And however relaxing Netflix is in the moment, it's just going to be that much more stressful when you realize it's 10PM and you haven't done any work yet.

2. Laundry is non-negotiable.

However tempting it might seem to skip laundry this week, it'll just bum you out later when you have to scrounge for a clean pair of socks. Set a specific day as "laundry day" and stick to it.

3. Don't feel bad if you fall behind on chores.

As important as it is to keep to your laundry schedule and keep your dorm clean, it's also okay if you're too busy to keep up with things. It's not the end of the world if you had to spend the night writing a fifteen-page essay instead of vacuuming. It's okay if your desk is so cluttered that you can't actually study at it anymore. And it's okay if you have to hand wash your underwear because you really didn't have time to do laundry. Things get overwhelming sometimes and it's not the end of the world when they do. You'll catch up when things are less hectic.

4. Friends are about the present, not the past.

Your friends back home are people you've known for years, and your friends at college are people you've just met. It might seem weird at first, but you'll realize that it doesn't matter. You don't have to know everything about someone to know that you love them, or that they're there to support you. You'll make some of your best memories with amazing people you barely know, but the collective experiences you're all having will make you feel like you've known them forever.

5. You get out what you put in.

Whether it's classes, friendships, work, or your social life, you get out what you put in. If you work hard to do well, odds are you will. Study and turn in work on time; hang out with the people you want in your life; if you want a job, apply for a bunch. You can't get what you want just by wanting it.

6. Don't be afraid to fail.

You're going to fail, probably often. You'll give the wrong answer in class or get rejected or make a fool of yourself. There are all sorts of things that can and probably will go wrong, especially while you're getting a feel for college life, but that's no reason to stop trying. It'll feel like everyone is judging you or laughing at you, and that no one has ever been as embarrassed as you are. But everyone is going through the same stuff, and the people who don't put themselves out there might never feel embarrassed, but they'll also never get to experience any of the good stuff that comes from putting in effort. You should never be embarrassed for caring about something.

7. "Sick days" are important.

I don't mean real sick days. Being sick sucks. I mean days where you skip class to go on an adventure with your roommates, or spend the day in bed for the sake of mental health. One of the most important things in college is to look out for your sanity. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the independence and the crazy workload and the social life, so when things get too crazy, remember to take time for yourself. "Sick days" matter.

8. Appreciate all the good things.

However stressful life gets, take the time to appreciate all of the amazing things that you might take for granted. Odds are, there's more good than bad. Acknowledge the great people you know, the incredible memories your making, the opportunities you're being presented with –– don't let the darkness outweigh the light. Take the time to thank the universe for sending all of these wonderful things your way.

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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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