"You'll learn more about yourself in college than anything else," my sister told me. I thought I would go into college and leave my first year the exact same person I always was.
I thought that college would be the one thing that would work in my favor, and for once I would have a boatload of friends who love and understand me and that I would be in an environment that accepts me.
I thought that these four years would be the best years ever, and I would spend the rest of my life trying to live up to the memories I made in school.
My sister's statement was entirely correct, I did learn more about myself in college than anywhere else.
On top of being away from home and living off of my own means, I was thrown into a city I knew very little about that was quite different from the cities I was used to growing up. There are a few things that I wish I knew before stepping into my first year of college.
Everybody you meet isn't going to be your friend.
It doesn't matter the context of the situation, not everybody is going to be your friend. Whether you knew them before college, or try hard to be friends with someone that won't budge, you will make your friends at some point and should never try to force your relationships.
Partying is a tad overrated.Giphy
Do I love to go out and have some fun at a party? Of course. However, I don't think partying is SO fun that I should come in between academics. I don't think partying is as addictive as other students make it out to be, and partying shouldn't be seen as a competition of how much more drunk you can get than you were the week before.
There is absolutely no such thing as "thriving" in college.
I don't know who made this shit up but they should be slapped. College will ruin you mentally and physically. You will be eating Chick-Fil-A sandwiches everyday and Pizza will become a primary food group, it's unbelievably unhealthy. You will not thrive, you will be begging for a home cooked meal. Your academics will push you to the end of your endurance and burn you out faster than you think.
Don't let anybody walk all over you.Giphy
One of my teachers in my senior year of high school wrote in my yearbook "you will be successful because you don't let the world get to you-you fight back and that is grand." I have always been a fighter, if there is something I don't like or I am being mistreated, I will address it.
This will not end in college, no matter how many people try to belittle you or demean you. You have a voice and you have power that should be exerted no matter what people say, whether they like it or not.
"Diversity University" doesn't exactly include me.
My school is very big on diversity and inclusion and acceptance, but what the fine lines underneath that will state that it is for select marginalized groups, and the LGBT is not included.
I've experienced more hate on my college campus than I have in my hometown, which was quite a bit hateful. As of right now, you don't exactly have a seat at the table, and you'll have to keep your head high like you always need to when the hateful mouths of people start running after you.
Going home for the weekends is your saving grace.Giphy
It's always good to get out of the city for a weekend and relax at home, thankfully, I found that spending the weekends back in my hometown is what will relax me and let me unwind from the week. I found that staying at school on the weekends still caused a sort of stressful environment around me, and that if I get to escape from that, I can have a few days to myself to do whatever it is I want to.
College will make it harder for you to maintain your hobbies.
Throughout my entire life, my hobbies were something that defined who I was. Whether it be art, performing, or anything else, I defined myself by what I created.
Sadly, college limited my ability to express myself through my hobbies. It was hard to find a creative outlet during college, painting and crafting weren't exactly so easy to do when I'm confined to a small dorm room. I won't be able to put my records on and relax and think about my future, I'll be too preoccupied with all of my work.
Try new things.Giphy
This year, I tried as many new things as I possibly could. I tried to adventure out into the city more, see new things.
I tried to take more pictures, capture the moment in my camera and in my mind.
I tried to live in the moment more and remind myself that there won't be another picture perfect moment as the one I am living in right now.
I tried to walk around and find new places that stimulated me and made me see the beauty in new environments.
I tried to expose myself to as many new things as possible.
Not everyone will understand you, that doesn't mean they don't love you.
I'm always told it is hard for other people to understand my struggles. Whether it be oppression, mental illness, trauma, or generally difficult topics to talk about.
I can't expect other people to accommodate my every need. Other people won't understand how it feels to be hated for who you are, or the repercussions of that. That doesn't mean they don't love me, it means they just can't expect to understand how I feel.
The real world is a scary one.Giphy
This last lesson has been one that I found the hardest to learn. Things aren't easy in the real world, it is a tough one out there.
My school has an alert system to inform its students about crimes that occur close to campus to tell us which areas to avoid and to keep safe. The alert system rings more than it should, with the immense amount of violence surrounding the campus, I'm constantly reminded that the world outside is not one filled with love and acceptance that people want to make it seem.
The world will hurt you for sure, it has hurt me a few times this year, and I'm trying to find my peace in realizing that bad things do happen, to good people, and to people at random.
It's hard to imagine how to find that place when you're only in your first year of school, especially when you're pushed to the boundaries of your physical and mental endurance. It forces you to take a step back and think that things aren't so black and white, and it makes you question the path you have set out for yourself.
Remind yourself that you are on the right path, and good things will come to you.
Finally, this step has been one that I struggled the most with practicing. After so many horrible things happening consecutively in my life, I began to believe that good things will never come my way.
I began to believe that some diabolical force was out to get me and tear up everything that comes into my path. I never believed that some things happened for a reason to teach me lessons I needed to learn that I was incapable of learning on my own.
I needed to be force fed, I needed to go through hell before I was able to learn my self-worth and measure how deserving of goodness I was.
College taught me as many life lessons in just a single year than any year of school has. I'm thankful for my experiences this year although they battered and bruised me, the fight was a good one and helped me realize more about myself that I deemed possible.