The first year of college is rough—you're on your own for the first time, school just got stupidly hard, and you have no idea what you're doing. Once sophomore year hits though, you're pretty much an expert—you've probably settled into your major, joined a few clubs you're passionate about, and finally figured out how to handle this whole "life" thing. While reflecting on the past year and a half of our lives, my friends and I compiled a list of the core things we wish we had known before now.
1. Befriend people who intimidate you
My first two semesters of college, I spent a lot of time being jealous of my peers who seemed to have it all together and were doing "better" than me. Once I actually became friends with some of these people, I realized that they're also just people and have struggles just like I do. I also found that by surrounding myself with equally (or more) motivated people, I was able to accomplish so much more.
2. Learn to say no every once in a while
The opportunities on a college campus are just about endless, so it's easy to get caught up with so many things to do that you don't have time for what you actually want to do. Learning how to say no (and not feeling guilty about it) has helped me focus my energy and time on what matters most to me.
4. Stop telling yourself you can't be good at things
About halfway through the semester, I started running for the simple reason that I've always told myself it was something I couldn't do. After training for and finishing a 5K, I've proven myself wrong and gained a confidence that has transferred over into all aspects of my life.
5. You need all different types of people in your life
It's important to have a balance of friends and family in your circle. You need some who you can laugh with, some who you can cry with, and some who nudge you out of your comfort zone.
6. Romantic relationships do not, and should not, define you as a person
Over the years, I've been very insecure about my (non-existent) dating life. I've felt that I'm "less than" for having an S.O. This semester, I learned that having a strong support system is much more valuable than a strong romantic relationship. The right person will come along eventually.
7. Stepping out of your comfort zone usually works out well
I have a lot of fear when it comes to meeting and talking to new people. I don't like to do things alone. This semester, I finally stepped out of my comfort zone in this regard by trying things by myself without a friend with me, and honestly, I had a blast.
8. Enjoy your alone time
Roommates can become instant best friends. However, their presence automatically means you lose a large chunk of your alone time. When you get a free moment to yourself, take advantage of it. Your mental health will thank you.
9. Take part in events, no matter how cheesy they may seem
Yes, colleges can be corny with some of their more wholesome activities. These events will only be available to you for a short portion of your life. I've found that sometimes you can make better memories at things like that than you can at a bar.
10. Try things, even if you don't think you're good enough to keep up
So maybe you were the star in high school. Maybe you weren't. Either way, you shouldn't stop yourself from trying out for sports or activities in college because you think you "aren't good enough." No matter how big your college is, there's no way you'll know whether or not you can do something until you actually try to do it. More times than not, something will work out in your favor.
11. Take advantage of the ridiculous amount of opportunities available to you.
Your college years are going to be full of opportunities—both academic and social. You have every chance and every tool to succeed, it just comes down to actually taking the leap and making those opportunities work out for you.
Even though all of these things would have been nice to know in the past, I think that not knowing them made us into stronger human beings overall as we've learned and grown from our mistakes. So don't be afraid to fall into these traps yourself–sometimes, the best way to learn is to fall a few times before you can get up and stay up.