Halfway done with college. The cliches are running through my mind. You know the ones, about time flying and it going by fast and how scary adulthood and all those. College has been a lot of unexpected stuff, and in the most unexpected ways. Even though I’ve got a ways to go and a lot more to learn, there is already some wisdom I’ve received or earned on my own. I’m here to share it with you.
1. Stop and smell the roses
I have a bad habit of thinking to what comes next, and not enjoying the current moment. When I’m in a moment where everything feels right, I forget to savor it and lose the feeling. It is true how fast things go by so please savor these times. Savor the moment when you make an obscure reference and one person gets it. Hold on to the night your favorite musician came to town and you and your best friend scored tickets. Don’t forget the feeling of your parents telling you how proud they are of what you’ve done. These things are important and make these years all the more worthwhile.
2. Explore all over the place
Don’t spend all four years locked in the library or chained to campus. There is cool stuff in every corner, you just gotta look for it. Google nature preserves nearby and take a hike, or use Yelp and find a funky restaurant to try. Getting the best out of your experience means using up every inch of space, time, and energy you are provided. When will you have the opportunity to run around and goof off like this again? Unless you’re really, really lucky, you probably won’t. So explore!
3. Homesickness is real
I don’t get homesick in the traditional sense. I never cried because I wanted to see my parents or because I longed for the simplicity of high school. Instead, I found myself missing the most random things. I missed music playing in the passing periods and knowing every person I passed in the halls. I missed the smell of my mom’s baking, the random magazine articles my grandfather would clip for me, even Friday night Papa John’s. I hated attempting to explain why “Jewel Osco” was the place to be and fireworks displays at the racetrack were a must. The things I treasured were still there, but they would never hold the same meaning to me now as they did back then. Because home changes, and adjusting to that can suck. But soon you’ll find a new home and find a new must-see fireworks display.
4. Reach farther than you think you can
Do. Not. Settle. If something sucks, do everything you can to change it! Again, soon you’ll have to be an adult and answer to the man. Right now, you can find clubs that intrigue you and engage with people that are fun to be around. Do what you can to find your people or find yourself or maybe even both. Just don’t be miserable and work tirelessly to make sure you stay happy and positive and life doesn’t suck.
5. Life goes on without you
A real heartbreaking moment for me was the first time I went out to dinner with my family after being away at school for a while. Instead of telling the hostess our typical “five people,” my dad mistakenly said “four.” It was weird to realize that my family existed without me being home. I began to notice more and more how I was a stranger in my own home. New snacks filled the cabinets, my parents drove my brothers to their events while I sat on the couch, and they started new traditions. I felt like I was vacationing in someone else’s life, not spending time with my own family. However, I soon found my family adjusted to fitting in my life. My brothers visited Butler and attended basketball games, my parents planned to visit me abroad. I realized to value the time spend with my family, and let go of my “old” life and grew accustomed to the new home life without me and my new life away from home.