1. Change is inevitable.
College is obviously a big adjustment. New place, new people, new classes. You have to learn skills you might not have had before. But being away from home doesn’t mean time continues for you, but stops for everyone else.
You go away for five months and your house has been decorated differently, someone new is introduced into your life, and you don’t connect with your high school friends as well as you used to. You aren’t prepared for any of it.
Remember that change only means you’re growing as time passes. You’re outgrowing the trends, the drama, and the old you. You’re getting ready for the next steps in your life. But that also means other people will grow as time passes. You can’t keep things the way you want it. But you don’t have to necessarily like the change, you just have to accept it.
Whether you hang onto the past or not, don’t hinder the inevitable change from occurring.
2. Get rid of the poison in your life.
Maybe a friend, a significant other, a family member or your entire family. Perhaps it's a job or extracurricular, a course or your major, or even the old you. If it’s hurting you mentally, physically, and/or emotionally, get rid of it! You don’t owe it to anyone to continue an activity or to keep them in your life.
But you can’t listen to anyone else. You have to learn on your own, gain some independence to make the decisions. It’s the only way you’ll make progress. If you give in to someone else's choices, it doesn’t matter if you agree or not. Since you didn’t come to the conclusion on your own, you’ll eventually fall back into habit. You’ll come full circle instead of flourishing.
It’s important to consider other people’s feelings. However, you are just as important, if not possibly more important than them. If it’s not working, move on. Everyone else will do the same. Sometimes we need to prioritize and put ourselves first.
Don’t suck out the poison from a snake bite only to kill yourself in the end.
3. Do things that make you happy.
Once you get rid of the deadweight, it’s time to find activities that will make you the happiest self.
If you’re struggling with figuring out what to do, write a bucket list of all the things you want to do before you turn twenty-one, before you die, or before the year ends. It gets the process started to your self-growth. But it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t fulfill it. It doesn’t need to be done all at once. Maybe one thing every day or every week, as long as you keep up with it. It can remind you to continue the improvement in your life and mental health.
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of whatever you take on. It could be joining a new sport you always wanted to try, writing out everything that comes into your mind, watching a show or movie that gives you comfort, or just taking time to be by yourself to think and process something.
Find what's right for you and only you, not what someone else would do.
4. Never keep secrets, and never lie to yourself.
While you shouldn’t keep secrets and lie to the people in your life, sometimes it’s necessary and unavoidable. But when you do it to yourself, that's another thing entirely. It’s worse.
Maybe you keep secrets, and as a result, you lie to yourself because it’s a defense mechanism against the unknown. The unknown you have yet to recognize or yet to accept. Ignorance might be a bliss, but after awhile it starts to deteriorate your mind. The line between truth and lying blurs, and you can’t tell the difference.
You then fight to find the answers. But when you recognize whatever you tried so hard to deny, everything becomes clearer. You’re able to take measures to be proactive, not reactive.
If it’s a trauma from your past, overcome it. If it’s a struggle for your present, embrace it. If it’s a question about your future, welcome it.
You are the only person you should be completely honest with.
5. Don’t let people tell you who you are.
People will create false assumptions about you. They will assume they know you. They will assume you’re a goodie-two-shoes. They will assume you’re a drinker. They will assume you’re a “fucking nerd.” They’ll assume you’re a drop-out. They’ll assume you’re a trouble-maker. They'll assume that they know you. They’re wrong.
You assume that you’re set in stone, that what you are now is who you’ll be in ten, fifteen, twenty years. You’re wrong. You don’t even know yourself.
So don’t apologize or pretend to be something you’re not. You have to allow yourself to explore every different possibilities of who you can be. If you don’t like the way you are, do something about it. But only you have the power to modify your identity.
You are the only thing that matters. You are perfectly imperfect. You will find like-minded people who will like you for you.
Don’t lose hope and never lose track of your true self.